A Relaxing Mini-Tour of Washington, D.C. Memorials
Relaxing is not a word that’s often associated with seeing the sights in Washington, D.C., yet it is possible. There are many beautiful museums and memorials to visit in Washington, D.C., an overwhelming amount, really. And the vast majority are free — see them all! And then you’ll be tired and maybe a little museum-ed out after a couple of days. Try our mini-tour of these memorials for a more laid back, relaxed approach.
Tour 3 Washington, D.C. Memorials Along the Tidal Basin
Where to Park Near the Washington, D.C. Memorials
First, show up at twilight. The crowds are smaller, the temperature has dropped, and the memorials are even more special lit up at night. If you have a car, you can often find parking along West Basin Drive SW, and this is an excellent location to start your tour. The closest metro stop (Smithsonian station) is about one mile from here. Honestly, I’d probably Uber to the memorials to stay with my relaxing theme.
Starting Your Walking Tour
The Martin Luther King, Jr., the Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Thomas Jefferson Memorials all line the Tidal Basin, are open 24 hours, and are located only about 3/4 mile from one end to the other, although you’ll have to double back to get to your car. The memorials are not enclosed, so it’s also a great opportunity to get outside after being inside museums all day.
I like to start at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, which is located a short walk north of the parking area. From here, it’s a relaxed stroll to the FDR Memorial. Remember, we’re sticking with our “relaxed” theme. Then, it’s a longer but very pretty walk to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.
Older children tend to appreciate the quotes that line the walls of each of these memorials, while younger children are particularly interested in the statues in the FDR Memorial, including those of people standing in a bread line, as well as FDR with his dog, Fala. And there’s plenty of space to just walk along the Tidal Basin under the cherry trees enjoying the view.
Activities for Kids at the Tidal Basin Memorials
The National Park Service does a terrific job of providing educational activities for kids. Their Junior Park Ranger program gets the kids involved by providing booklets that lead kids through each site with questions and searches. These booklets are available from the park rangers or the visitor’s centers. However, if you’ll be there in the evening when the visitor’s centers may be closed, download and print a copy of the National Mall Junior Ranger Activity Booklet before you go.
Unfortunately, the online booklet is not up-to-date with information on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, so you may want to pick up a hard copy earlier in the day. Once the booklet is filled out, you can mail it into the Park Service to receive the National Mall Junior Ranger badge.
Pack a picnic, take a deep breath, and head to the Tidal Basin to enjoy a relaxing end to a busy day in Washington, D.C.
You may also enjoy:
- Visit the Renwick Gallery on the Way to the White House
- Tips for the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
- 7 Monuments & Memorials: A Self-Guided Walking Tour of Washington, D.C.
- Consider staying at any of the Hilton hotels in Washington, D.C.
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Andrea is a single mom in Arlington, Virginia with a 15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Her children took their first trips when they were just four…