Washington DC Monuments at night
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Monuments At Night – Washington DC (DC Monuments At Night Tour Is The Best!)

Are you planning a Washington DC trip and thinking about visiting the DC monuments at night?

Awesome! It is a great option. Not only will you beat the heat of the summer but the crowds will be so much lower!

If you have been following along on my blog you will know that I am based in Utah. One exciting thing you may not know is that I lived just outside of Washington DC and was able to explore a lot of the east coast during our time there.  

I love Washington DC and all of the East Coast Historical Sites.  I wish I could have lived there longer!

Let’s plan everything you need to know when visiting the DC monuments at night!

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Why Visit the DC Monuments at Night?

Okay, truth be told is that on a trip to DC last year, my husband visited the monuments at night because he was in meetings during the day. So, yes, one reason is that it’s the only time you have time. 

But hopefully, that’s not the situation, in which case, here are the five reasons to see the monuments at night.

1. DC Monuments are Open at Night

They’re open. There is not a lot open in the evening in DC. The museums close early. But the monuments are always accessible.

2. The Blazing Sun is Down

You don’t have to mess with the sun. Summer and DC when mixed together are ingredients for heat. For the most part, you are outside if you are visiting the monuments. By going at night, you can enjoy the monuments without battling the summer heat.

3. Less Crowds

Another reason is there are fewer crowds. You won’t be completely alone in most places. You will still see tour buses late at night. Sometimes you won’t see the buses, but all of a sudden see a swarm of people with lanyards and know tour or convention buses are still making the rounds.

You will also likely come across families and friends on rental bikes or scooters getting around Washington DC.  But there won’t be many. And with few people out and about, you will have plenty of space to roam around.

And if you happen to be a runner, and my husband and I are, avoiding the heat and having space is a recipe for a great, scenic run.

4. Monuments are Lit Up

See the lights. The monuments are lit up at night, accentuating their majestic structures.

5. Peaceful

It’s peaceful. With fewer cars and fewer people, it is noticeably more quiet. It is a great way to quietly take in each monument and ponder on their messages.

Transportation to the Washington DC Monuments

Smithsonian Stop

Metro

Take the Orange, Silver, or Blue Line to the Smithsonian stop.  The Smithsonian stop is where you will want to exit to start your monument at night tour.

Car

There is a small free parking lot by the Washington Memorial that I used to park at all the time.  However, if spots are taken you can usually find a spot along the Mall.  These spots do cost money.  If you park at night, you should have better luck than finding a spot earlier in the day.

How Much Time Do I Need to See the Monuments at Night?

Washington DC Capital at night

The National Mall is about a 5 miles round trip.  You can try to hit as many monuments and memorials as you can but it can take hours, so you may want to pick and choose the ones that are most important to you.

Obviously, you are not going to be speed walking you will want to enjoy each monument and read the inscriptions and take pictures at each one.  I would give you about 3 hours to tour around some of the top monuments and memorials on foot.

If you decided to rent a bike or take a moonlight trolley ride, you will be able to cut your time in half.

Things to Know Before Exploring the Monuments at Night

Washington DC Park Services

The monuments are run by the National Park Service.

Do the Monuments in DC Close?

The monuments are open 24 hours a day.  There are park rangers available from 9:30 am – 11:30 pm daily.

Restroom Facilities

Restrooms are located at the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial.  There is another restroom as you are walking along the path.

Parking

The good thing about DC at night is the crowds are lower making the parking spaces more available.  Parking is strictly enforced.  So please pay attention to the signs.

Plan of Attack for Viewing the Monuments at Night!Monuments at Night - Washington DC Lincoln Memorial

Make your plan of attack for viewing the DC monuments at night.  You will want to have a plan on which monuments you want to see first and which ones are the most important to you. 

Washington Monument

Washington Monument at Night

The National Mall stretches from the United States Capitol to the east, to the Lincoln Memorial to the west. From the Smithsonian Station, it is about half of a mile to the Washington Memorial (to the west of the station).

Word War II Memorial

Word War II Memorial at night

From there, your next step will be likely the World War II Memorial, about a third of a mile to the west of the Washington Memorial. I really enjoy the World War II Memorial and spent quite some time there before moving on.

The World War II Memorial is made up of two semicircles, with two arches commemorating the two theaters of the war: the Pacific and the Atlantic. Pillars line the semicircles, each with a name of one of the fifty states.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial at Night

From the World War II Memorial, you will have about a half-mile to the Lincoln Memorial.

Word of Caution

A word of caution here. I would recommend walking along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool that runs between the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial. It can be quite easy to follow a path that veers to the north.

I have found going toward the Constitution Gardens to the north is intimidating. There appear to be fewer people at night, the lighting is very poor, and you may see the occasional bench sleeper. It is not the best path to see the Lincoln Memorial at night. 

You will have plenty of light and should have plenty of company if you stay by the reflecting pool.

The Lincoln Memorial is an awesome sight and a favorite of many. Don’t be surprised if it seems crowded, even late at night.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Korean War Memorial

From there, unless you saw it on your way, consider going to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

There do not seem to be many people at night, and the stillness of the evening help to reflect on the sacrifice of those who served.

If you call it good at that point, you probably haven’t been out too long, and can go back to your hotel or other abode and call it a night.

Continue Along the Path

But if you have time, stamina, and the desire to see it all, if you head south from the Lincoln Memorial, and walk along the west bank of the Tidal Basin, you can see quite a few more memorials.

Jefferson Memorial 

Jefferson Memorial at night
Image Courtesy of National Park Service

The last stop will be the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which is over a mile from the Lincoln Memorial. 

Smithsonian Station

The good news is that you can get to the Smithsonian Station from there by continuing counterclockwise along the Tidal Basin (it takes about another mile).

Other Monuments Along the Way

Roosevelt National Memorial at night
Image Courtesy of National Park Services

Korean War Veterans Memorial and Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

Walking another mile is a tall order for me unless I get an early start. But if I’m ambitious, I might go part way, hitting the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The other memorial along that route is the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. This is an expansive memorial, with quite a bit to see.

Martin Luther King Memorial at night
Image courtesy of Washington.org

Complete List of Memorials and Monuments

Here is a complete list of the major memorials and monuments on the National Mall in no particular order:

  • Jefferson Memorial
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
  • Korean War Veterans Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • World War II Memorial
  • Martin Luther King Memorial

Washington DC Monument at Night ToursMonuments at Night tour

If you prefer to be in a group, there are many night tours available.  Many offer a form of transportation other than your feet.  This is really nice because there is a lot of walking involved when touring the DC monuments.  

Bus Tour

Getting around Washington DC Hop On Hop Off bus tour

The Washington DC Monuments at Night Bus Tour is probably the best way to tour at night.  You have the safety of a larger group as well as a guide.  This is a 3-hour excursion.  Keep in mind the night bus tour is not offered every night. Check the schedule to see when it is available.  

On our most recent trip, we decided to take the daytime bus tour.  We talked with many people who had done the DC night monument tour and loved it.  They said it was even better than the day tour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t offered on the days we were in DC.  

The monuments by moonlight Trolley Tour is another option. 

Roadster Tour

Roadster Tour of Washington DC

The Night Time Roadster Tour is a great way to explore the Nation’s Capital at night.  This seven-passenger electric vehicle will provide a two-hour guided historical trip around the most fascinating DC attractions.  It is a great opportunity to use your nighttime photography skills.

Bike Tour

Bike tour of Washington DC

A Bike Tour of Washington DC at Night is another great way to see the monuments.  This tour is about three hours and allows you to jump on and off your bike to see the spectacular views all around you.

Segway Tour

Segway Tour of Washington DC

A Washington DC Segway Night Tour is a fun adventure to try. You get the same benefits as the bike tour but with just a little less physical exercise involved.

Take a Drive to Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima DC Monuments at Night

 

After you visit all of the monuments near the Mall, take a drive to Iwo Jima.  It is a short drive, and so worth it.  On our last trip, we never adjusted to East Coast time.  We ended up visiting Iwo Jima at midnight! 

I loved seeing this monument at night! There is plenty of parking all around! My brother was in the Marines, so this one has a special place in my heart. 

Visit the DC Monuments at NightLincoln Memorial at night

Hopefully, this gives you some helpful tips for visiting the DC monuments at night!  It is so fun to experience these great memorials in a different light. (no pun intended) The National Mall at night is incredible! 

Memorials and Monuments and the East Coast National Parks are a vital part of learning history. It helps us remember those that came before us and the lessons from the past. 

History is not always pretty but learning from these events will help us become better.  Without them, we may forget the learning moments of American history.

Facebook Community

If you have any questions join my Facebook Travel Community You can ask any questions you have about upcoming trips and everyone is happy to help you plan your trip.  I also try to give exclusive travel deals that companies send me.  It is a great group to join!

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79 Comments

  1. I live in the D.C. area and love visiting the monuments at night! It is always so fun to explore with way fewer people around. Also, Big Bus tours has an awesome night tour that is worth doing at least once.

  2. I love the monuments in DC at night. The last trip I took there was with my daughter on her 8th-grade school trip and we arrived (after being on buses all day) in the evening – we had a picnic dinner and then toured several of the monuments after dark. Such a great start to the trip.

  3. I would like to try the Night Time Roadster Tour. I like learning from tour guides about history.

  4. These pictures are cool! We have sort of mapped out a trip to D.C., but we wanted to wait until our youngest was just a tad older. I’ve been three times, but the rest of my family hasn’t. I was totally looking into a night tour of the monuments. I remember walking around the mall in July! Night would be better. I’ll keep your tips in mind for when we do go!

    1. Yes, I want to wait until my kids are a little older. Although, when we lived there I had a 2 and a 4 year old and we had lots of fun.

  5. The segway and nighttime roadster tours look awesome! I imagine it’s a whole different experience seeing those monuments up close. Thanks for sharing your tips; I’ve pinned it for when we next go to DC!

  6. Such great photos Lisa! I never thought about visiting DC Monuments at night … it is beautiful!

  7. When I was in college I visited my friend who lived in D.C. and we toured the monuments at night. It was such a fun experience.

  8. I love DC at night! I definitely think most people only go see the sights during the day, but I remember in high school we went to DC every year and it was an 8 hour drive. By the time we got there it was the evening and we would go by the Mall and the White House. We always went back the next day for our actual sightseeing, but they all look so great at night.

  9. The monuments looks amazing at night. We haven’t been to Washington DC yet but we have talked about going.

  10. These are stunning photos! I’ve only seen the White House at night…will use this as a guide the next time I visit.

  11. I think seeing the monuments at night would be even more magical than seeing them during the daytime. I’ve still never been to DC. Had a trip paid for and then COVID happened! Rats! Hopefully another time. I enjoyed your photos!

  12. Amazing post! I have traveled to so many places but never to Washington DC.. Its on my bucket list and the night time Monuments are now at the top! Thank you for sharing!

  13. Thanks for sharing this article. I didn’t realize that they were so lit up and you could experience them at night. What a fun way to see the memorials. I do want to get to DC someday to see all that history has to offer there. We have to learn from history the good, bad and ugly because it is where we came from.

  14. I’ve seen the monuments many times, but I don’t know if I’ve ever seen them at night. That is a great idea. I would love to try out the Segway too.

  15. See I never would have thought about visiting these monuments at night! Now I absolutely will! Very cool idea and Washington seems like such a great city for it.

  16. Great information, I’d love to go during the cherry blossom festival and the see the Smithsonian!

  17. There’s something very magical about seeing everything at night. Thanks for sharing your great pictures.

  18. I’ve been to DC many times as a child and teenager. I had the opportunity to be stationed there while in the Navy, but I didn’t want to deal with the traffic every day! LOL

    I can say, that I’ve only ever driven the beltway at night, not actually visited the monuments, but it is definitely beautiful!

  19. Wow! We have only been to DC for two short days, and were too tired by nightfall to stick around! Looks fabulous! Next time we go, will have to look into a night walk for sure! Also love the Segwey idea!! Lol

  20. nighttime always brings such intensity to any vista and these images are no different. beautiful. the segway tour looks so fun!

  21. I love this idea! I pinned it! We are always going to DC during the day, now I want to go at night. What a new experience! We always take the metro up from Vienna. Thank you for the inspiration and idea! I love your travels and blog!!!

  22. I will definitely be adding this to my list of places to visit when I go on my road trip! Thanks for the ideas!

  23. I remember visiting here one summer and we walked the entire length from the capital to the Lincoln memorial while visiting many of the monuments you mentioned. It was hot! Maybe some day I’ll go back and see it at night. Sounds beautiful!

  24. My son has done this tour with a company that takes student groups, but we did not go! It looks really interesting! I appreciate the tips!

  25. WOW!! This post brought back memories!! I use to live in Ohio and Delaware and would visit DC. Now I live in Alaska and haven’t been there in about 20 years. My last visit was when one of my students won a writing contest and she and I went to DC to accept her award (and met 50 other students). It was a great visit!

  26. I really enjoyed your perspective. I think the monuments take on a new feeling at night, and I certainly enjoy the view without all the crowds!

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