The sights of Washington DC are much publicized in American TV shows. But experiencing them firsthand is rather special. Walking around the National Mall, with a slight nip in the air is out-of-a-movie. Well, at least that is what I felt until I reached New York. The simplest things, fresh air, pitch blue sky and buildings all around.
National Mall is the stretch that runs from Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Hill grounds. The stretch can almost entirely be covered on foot. The best thing about Washington DC? All the government attractions are free of cost, including the Smithsonian's! Budget trip, right there. I start early in the morning around 9, stopped by for lunch, lazed around the Tidal basin and I wrapped up by 4! There are plenty of signages for you to follow the trail. But I started by anchoring the Washington monument, easily plottable thanks to the height. Best things to eat in Washington DC, check here.
Downloadable link for the National Mall poster here.
Washington Monument commemorates the first President George Washington. Standing tall, the monument is the world's tallest stone structure. It has also been recently been undergoing restoration. The compound is free of cost to visit, you can check out tickets for the ride up and availability here.
Next stop walking down on the National Mall, Jefferson Memorial. Located at the brink of the Tidal Basin, you are in for a great view. Even though it is still under restoration, you get a wonderful view of the Washington monument and a distant Martin Luther King Memorial.
The glistening view of the Tidal Basin is breathtaking to walk along. The best time to see Tidal basin is said to be the cherry blossom season. The pink blooms and the clear water is quite a picturesque portrait. Me, I sat down by the Tidal Basin, looked at the sunlight dancing on the water. And ate my muffin, felt right out of an old school novel.
The George Mason memorial lies on the way to Roosevelt Memorial, on the Tidal Basin. The Forgotten Founder, is a short detour but quite an interesting read. Stop by for an insight into the Mason, and the beautiful fountain before it.
Japanese Cherry Blossom
Of course, the best time to visit is the Cherry blossom season. But there is a plaque commemorating the first cherry blossom presented by Japan to America. The Cherry Blossom Festival happens during spring, check out dates for 2020 here.
FDR's memorial does not just memorialize him, but also his wife and his faithful dog. From FDR's famous quotes to scenes set in metal from the Great Depression. Roosevelt memorial is the most interesting, as it gives you such an amazing sense of the period of his presidency.
Martin Luther King Memorial
From the Great Depression to the great fight for rights. Carved in a stone block, the Stone of Hope has had its share of controversies. But King stands tall and his famous words greet you as you walk.
Korean War Memorial
The walk from Martin Luther King Jr's Memorial to the War memorials is a slightly long one. I was lucky enough to find veterans visiting the place. One of the most powerful messages - "Freedom isn't Free" stays with you as you walk towards the other memorials.
Vietnam War Memorial
One of the most interestingly designed - the black wall faced a lot of backlash from veterans. Due to the lack of ornamentation, but today is visited by thousands as a shrine. Not so far off is the Vietnam Women's Memorial dedicated to all the women who served the war as nurses.
Resembling a Greek temple, a HUGE Abraham Lincoln sits with his speeches carved in stone on either side of him. Among the most crowded memorials, the stairs act as a great viewpoint for the WW2 memorial and the Washington monument.
World War II Memorial
In line with the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument. The WW2 Memorial consists of 56 stone pillars, a reflecting pool and the Freedom Wall. The wall is studded with over 4000 golden stars to mark all those who sacrificed their lives in the war.
Albert Einstein Memorial
A larger than life statue of Albert Einstein is located in the heart of the National Mall. The statue is located inside the grounds of National Academy of Sciences.
White House Visitor Centre
A little before the main street to White House, the White House Visitor Centre is much more extensive. With videos playing on the loop, scaled-down models and artefacts from previous Presidents. You will find Lincoln's Telegraph Key, Queen Elizabeth's table setting from when she dined with President Ford. They also have a pretty cool gift shop for you to buy souvenirs from!
Probably the least recommended of this list. White House has been on pop fiction, with docu-series, documentaries, and innumerable movies. But what you get to see, of course, is not even 1% of it. What you will find interesting here although, would be the different kind of protestors, and supporters that stay there, day in and day out. I was personally pretty disappointed by this sight and really didn't realise that not a lot of people had written about how far you stand to view the White House. Google Maps is pretty unreliable and actually instructs you to walk on restricted roads, so best to ask security officers deployed there for help.
This was one of the most exciting places to visit. Not just because Designated Survivor was one of my favourite things to watch. But also because I was here as many led protests for Climate change. Capitol Hill is shut on weekends, so be sure to plan your visit during the week. Check out this list for more to do on Capitol Hill.