Plan Like a Park Ranger: Top 10 Tips for Visiting the National Mall

Summer is here and the National Mall is expecting an especially busy season in 2021. A little trip planning can ensure that your only surprises are happy ones. To help everyone have a great experience, National Mall rangers share their top 10 insider tips to #PlanLikeAParkRanger.

So here now from the home office in East Potomac Park, the Top 10 Tips for Visiting the National Mall...

10. Stay Cool

Washington Monument at night
Be prepared for heat and humidity if you visit in the summer. Hydrate regularly during the day and schedule your visit to take advantage of indoor, air-conditioned attractions during the heat of the afternoon. The memorials are all open 24 hours a day, so plan to visit those areas in the cooler early morning or late afternoon/evening hours.

9. Ask a Ranger!

A park ranger chats with a visitor
Have a question? Ask a ranger! We’re on duty across the National Mall each day from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and we’re always here to help. We can answer questions, share stories about the memorials, and let you know what activities are available. And we can tell you where to get your Passport book stamped!

8. Explore Beyond the National Mall

Great Falls Park
Did you know there are more than 30 other national parks in the DC area? There are parks where you can recreate (Prince William Forest Park, Catoctin Mountain Park), explore history (Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Antietam National Battlefield), learn about great Americans (Frederick Douglass National Historic Site, Clara Barton National Historic Site) and even take in the arts (Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts).

7. Use Public Transportation

Transit bus in front of Lincoln Memorial
Washington, D.C.'s busy metropolitan traffic can be a nightmare, while parking is at a premium. Public transportation is the best option for reaching National Mall and Memorial Park sites easily and conveniently. Metro, D.C.’s subway system, stops on the National Mall, and the D.C. Circulator National Mall Route has 15 stops at our major destinations within walking distance of nearly 30 monuments, memorials, museums and Metro stops.

6. Sniff All the Candles at Bath and Body Works

Burning jar candle
(sorry – that’s something to do at the Pentagon City Mall)

5. Reserve Your Spot

Crowd lined up in front of Ford's Theatre
There are still COVID-19 mitigation measures in place, particularly at indoor sites. Ford’s Theatre currently has reduced capacity, as will the Washington Monument when it reopens (date not yet scheduled). Advance tickets are a must, so make sure you plan ahead and make reservations early.

4. Get the App!

Screen shot of NPS app
The National Park Service App is the brand new official app for all 420+ national parks. And with more than a dozen parks managed as part of the National Mall, there’s plenty of opportunity to use it here. Find interactive maps, tours of park places, on-the-ground accessibility information, and more. You can even access it offline if you plan ahead!

3. Wheel Around the Mall (But be Respectful)

Park ranger on a scooter
Scooters, bikes and e-bikes are the perfect way to get around the National Mall! But please remember that riding bicycles/scooters is not permitted within the individual memorials. Show your fellow visitors and the people honored by the memorials the proper respect and walk your bicycles and scooters through these sites or use the designated parking areas provided before entering.

2. Check Out the New Memorials

Statues at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
We’ve added two new memorials since you last time you probably visited! The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial is the nation's tribute to the architect of victory in World War II and its 34th president. The World War I Memorial is America’s long overdue tribute to the service, valor, courage and sacrifice of the 4.7 million American sons and daughters who served in the Great War.

1. Don't Keep Off the Grass!

Green grass on the Mall with the Washington Monument in the background
The Mall, the expanse of grass that stretches from 3rd Street to 14th Street between the Smithsonian museums, has never looked greener! Take some time to enjoy it on your visit - spread a blanket and enjoy an evening picnic! Toss a Frisbee with your friends! Or just kick off your shoes for a barefoot stroll through America’s Front Yard! (some areas of the Mall may be closed from time to time to allow the turf to recover; please respect those closures)

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Last updated: May 28, 2021