The Layout of Washington, D.C. Monuments (+ Walking Guide)

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Washington D.C. is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. It’s home to many incredible monuments and memorials, most of which are conveniently located relatively close by, near the Tidal Basin, and not far from the National Mall. 

The major D.C. monuments and memorials are:  

  • Washington Monument
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial 
  • World War II Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
  • George Mason Memorial
  • D.C. War Memorial 

Below, I’ll give you my walking guide and recommendations on how to see the monuments in the best and easiest way possible!

Map of the Layout of Washington, D.C. Monuments

Below is a map of Washington, D.C. monuments and memorials to help you plan your visit. It includes a walking map that you can save and use.

Below you can access a downloadable map of the layout of the monuments in D.C.

What Order Should I See the Monuments in Washington, D.C.?

Washington, D.C. monuments and memorials can be easily visited by walking. Most of the major memorials are located near the Tidal Basin, which is a large body of water that connects to the Potomac River. 

Below is a quick walking guide to help you navigate each monument and memorial. 

📍 Start at the Washington Monument. You can’t miss it! The tall obelisk is the most prominent feature on the D.C. skyline. It’s visible from neighboring Arlington, VA, and it’s one of the most iconic places in Washington. 

📍 From the Washington Monument, I recommend heading west, crossing 17th Street, and walking about 8 minutes to the World War II Memorial

📍 Then, continue west along the beautiful reflecting pond. At the other end, you’ll reach the iconic Lincoln Memorial, which is about a 10-minute walk from the World War II Memorial. 

📍 Right next to the Lincoln Memorial, just a 2-minute walk north, you’ll find the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

📍 Then, head south to the opposite side of the Lincoln Memorial to reach the Korean Veterans War Memorial, which is about a 4-minute walk from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. 

📍 From there, you can visit the D.C. War Memorial, which is a 6-minute walk away. 

📍 Then, head south to the Tidal Basin for about a 3-minute walk, where you’ll reach the majestic Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. 

📍 Then, continue south, going counterclockwise along the Tidal Basin to reach the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, which is a 4-minute walk away.  

📍 Continue going counterclockwise around the Tidal Basin for about 10 minutes until you reach the often overlooked George Mason Memorial.

📍 Then, continue going counterclockwise for another 5 minutes around the Tidal Basin until you reach the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

📍 Then, continue north along the Tidal Basin until you reach your starting point at the Washington Monument again. It is about a 19-minute walk to get there, but you’ll be walking along the lovely Tidal Basin. 

Here is even more information about each of the major Washington, D.C. monuments and memorials.

Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is one of the most prominent structures in D.C. It is a towering obelisk that honors George Washington, the first President of the United States. The monument is made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss and it is the world’s tallest predominantly stone structure. 

The Washington Monument at sunset

The monument is beautiful to look at from the National Mall, but you can also go up to the observation deck for incredible views of Washington’s best landmarks, including the White House, Capitol, National Mall, and many of the nearby monuments and memorials. 

You can go up to the observation deck by reserving a free, timed ticket. You can get your ticket online (with a $1 fee). 

You can also pick up a same-day ticket at the Washington Monument Lodge (which is located along 15th Street between Madison Drive and Jefferson Drive. It opens at 8:45 a.m. and tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Note that tickets sell out quickly in advance. For the best chance of reserving a ticket, try to get online right when they become available.

You can order tickets online up to a month in advance. Tickets become available each day (30 days out) at 10 a.m. each morning (e.g. – on May 7 at 10 a.m., tickets will become available for visits on June 6).

There are also a limited number of additional tickets that are made available at 10 a.m. each day for the next day’s visits (e.g. – on May 7 at 10 a.m., tickets will become available for visits on May 8). 

World War II Memorial

The World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. is a majestic tribute to the 16 million U.S. armed forces members who served during World War II and the more than 400,000 who died. 

World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. at night

It features 56 granite pillars representing U.S. states and territories, and a pair of arches symbolizing victory in the Atlantic and Pacific.

It’s a beautiful memorial with a large fountain in the middle. 

Lincoln Memorial

The Lincoln Memorial is one of the most famous monuments in Washington. It commemorates Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President. 

Lincoln Memorial

The centerpiece is a towering statue of Lincoln seated in a chair. He is looking out onto the Reflecting Pool below and surrounded by inscriptions of two of his most famous speeches: the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. 

When visiting, be sure to walk around to the back of the monument as well. There are beautiful views from all directions around the monument. 

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial honors the U.S. service members who fought in the Vietnam War. 

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

The central part of the memorial is the Wall. It is a large black granite V-shaped wall inscribed with the names of over 58,000 servicemen and women who died or went missing during the war. 

The memorial is simple yet powerful. The long list of names seems to continue without end. It serves as a poignant reminder of the tragic impact and cost of war.

Korean War Veterans Memorial

This memorial commemorates the sacrifices of the 5.8 million Americans who served during the Korean War. 

It features 19 stainless steel statues representing a squad on patrol. There is also a Wall of Remembrance and the Pool of Remembrance, which reflect the human cost of war.

This is another visually stunning memorial, with the statues seeming to move through the forest in the heat of battle. At the same time, though, there is an almost eerie, ghost-like quality to their movements.  

D.C. War Memorial

The D.C. War Memorial commemorates the citizens of Washington D.C. who served in World War I. It’s a domed, peristyle Doric temple that provides a serene space for reflection amidst the bustling National Mall, honoring the sacrifice of local heroes.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial honors the civil rights leader’s fight for equality and justice. A 30-foot statue of King, named the “Stone of Hope,” emerges from a “Mountain of Despair,” symbolizing his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. 

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

This memorial is one of the most visually striking, with a towering, majestic white statue of Dr. King as the centerpiece. Nearby, you’ll find walls inscribed with the immortal words from many of his sermons and speeches.

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

This outdoor memorial to Franklin D. Roosevelt, the 32nd President, features bronze sculptures of the president, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and the president’s dog Fala. 

The memorial is divided into four open-air rooms representing his four terms in office. 

Other prominent features of the memorial include famous quotes from FDR, waterfalls, and representations of significant historical scenes from his presidency, including the Great Depression and World War II.

George Mason Memorial

This small memorial is often overlooked, particularly since it is close to the much more prominent Jefferson Memorial.

The memorial honors founding father, George Mason, who was the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. The document actually served as a model for the Declaration of Independence that was drafted by fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson.

The monument features Mason seated on a bench, surrounded by books, and with a book in his lap. He is flanked by two short walls that feature excerpts from his many important writings.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the U.S. and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, this monument is situated by the Tidal Basin and features beautiful water views. 

The prominent rotunda structure features a statue of Jefferson surrounded by passages from his writings, emphasizing his contributions to the founding of the nation. 

The memorial is constructed with bold neoclassical columns that create striking patterns of light and shadow. 

FAQs About the Washington, D.C. Monuments

What order should I see monuments in D.C.?

I recommend seeing the monuments in the following order:
* Washington Monument
* World War II Memorial
* Lincoln Memorial
* Vietnam Veterans Memorial
* Korean War Memorial
* DC Memorial
* Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
* Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial
* George Mason Memorial
* Thomas Jefferson Memorial

How far apart are monuments in Washington, D.C.?

Most of the major monuments are 5 to 20 minutes apart on foot.

Are all the monuments in D.C. walkable?  

All of the major monuments in D.C. are walkable. This includes the Washington Monument, the World War II Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and more. You can walk to all of them in about a one-hour time frame, even with stops along the way. 

What is the best way to see the monuments in Washington, D.C.? 

The best way to see the monuments in D.C. is by walking, as the monuments are all pretty close together. You can also rent a bike and see the monuments by bike, or you can join a tour to learn more about the history and features of the monuments. 

Below are some tours that I recommend:
👉 Click here to book a guided tour to see the monuments at night
👉 Click here to book a guided monuments bike tour

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.

There are many great hotels to stay near the D.C. monuments and memorials. Below are some of my top recommendations. 

Holiday Inn Washington Capitol

The Holiday Inn Washington Capitol is just blocks from the National Mall. It also has an outdoor pool and it is pet-friendly!

🛏️ Click here to book your stay at the Holiday Inn Washington Capitol! 🛏️

Hilton Washington DC National Mall 

The Hilton Washington DC is another great choice. It is located near both the National Mall and The Wharf, which features excellent shopping and restaurants along the Potomac River. The four-star hotel also has an outdoor pool, bar, and restaurant. 

🛏️Click here to book your stay at the Hilton Washington DC National Mall! 🛏️

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