Monuments and Memorials: A Guide to D.C.’s Best

Sickness Update: I feel like death. You guys. How the heck am I so sick in the Springtime?! This never happens. Things would be going A LOT better for me if I could actually breath and move my head without feeling like I’m going to fall over. And I’m so sad because it’s Tuesday. And on Tuesday’s my BFF comes over for dinner and Pretty Little Liars and I had to cancel so I could go to bed before 7 pm again. Ugh.

I hope your Tuesdays are going MUCH better than mine!

And since it’s Tuesday, that means it’s time for another Travel Tuesday post here on Savannah Said It! The last few weeks, I’ve been sharing my tips and tricks to navigate your way through some of D.C.’s most popular attractions. (Find the posts here, here, here, and here!)  Today, we’re continuing the trend!

A trip to D.C. is not complete without visiting it’s most popular monuments and memorials. But there are so many, it can feel almost impossible to see them all. So which ones will give you the biggest “wow” factor that you’re most certainly looking for? Easy. The ones with the most significance to you. Want to honor your favorite presidents? Or maybe your favorite war hero? The monuments and memorials surrounding the National Mall will let you do just that. It’s no secret that some of America’s most treasured symbols of history lie around “America’s Front Yard”. But which ones can’t you leave D.C. without seeing?

Here are my Top 5 Must See Monuments and Memorials while you’re in Washington D.C.

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I love this picture of me and my favorite president! We were there bright and early and the only ones around. It was pretty neat!

Lincoln Memorial. If you know me, you know that Honest Abe is one of my favorite presidents. (Him and JFK. They have always absolutely fascinated me.) So of course, the Lincoln Memorial is going to be my Number One! But… not just because of the larger than life Abe Lincoln. It’s my Number One because of the history that is deeply embedded there. Anchoring the west end of the National Mall, this architectural beauty seems to just belong there. Like it always has, and always will be meant be exactly where it is, no matter how drastically the skyline changes around it. (In fact, I personally believe L’Enfant would have been THRILLED the second this bad boy was built.) The memorial boasts a 19 foot Abe Lincoln, who permanently keeps a watch over the city. It is also the place that so many historical moments call “home.” None more famous however, than that moment on August 28th, 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have A Dream” speech on the steps in front of 250,000 people. This fact, gave me chills. As I stood on the steps, looking out over the reflecting pool and grassy lawn stretching all the way to The Capitol, I couldn’t help but imagine the power of his speech, and that moment in time. To call the Lincoln Memorial iconic is an understatement.

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The change is subtle in my photo, but it’s there! Can you find it? It’s much more noticeable in person. 

The Washington Monument. Quick. Close your eyes and picture the D.C. skyline. What do you see? The Washington Monument perhaps? Standing 555 feet tall, the Washington Monument is the tallest freestanding stone structure in the world. And now, for a Snapple Fact! (Y’all know I love me a good Snapple Fact!) Construction on the Washington Monument began in 1848. However, a lack of funds and the Civil War interrupted the work from 1854 to 1877. When you look at the monument today, you can clearly see the color of stones change. Kind of cool… right? You can go up in the monument… but unfortunately, not again until Spring of 2019. It’s under construction. However, you can still visit the outside and it’s still really beautiful!

Jefferson Memorial in Spring
This clearly is not my photo. (I’m so not that talented!) However, this is my favorite picture I’ve ever seen of the Jefferson Memorial, so I’m sharing it here! 

The Jefferson Memorial. Reflection and Inspiration. The first two words that come to mind when I think of the Jefferson Memorial. This is a favorite among tourists for a reason… this memorial is visually stunning. (Especially in the Spring when it is surrounded by blossoming cherry trees!) Inside, you’ll find a bronze statue of Jefferson himself, and excerpts from his letters and the Declaration of Independence all over the walls.

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The World War II Memorial is lovely. I literally can’t think of a better way to describe it.

The World War II Memorial. 16 million. The number of men and women that served our country during World War II. You don’t need me to tell you the significance of this memorial, commemorating and honoring the spirit of those who fought and the 400,000 men and women who lost their lives fighting for our freedoms. More than 4.4 million visitors stop by the World War II memorial every year, to pay tribute to the Heros of “The Greatest Generation.”  It is one of the most visited spots on The National mall. I love that this memorial is split into two parts, The Atlantic and Pacific. I also love that each state is represented with it’s own pillar. 

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Side note! Trev’s Grandpa fought in World War II. He even got to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier one year! Trev’s Grandma had printed out information about him for us, so while we were there, we took pictures by everything World War II related we could for her. And we made a cute little scrapbook for her to keep. How cute is Trev standing with his Grandpa’s picture in front of the Michigan pillar?!

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Here’s a not so great photo and a really spectacular memorial. 

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This memorial is BY FAR the most touching place on The National Mall. It’s somber. It’s heart breaking. And it’s so eye opening. 58,274. The number of names etched into the black granite honoring those who died or were listed as MIA in the Vietnam War. While the sheer amount of names is enough to leave you shaken, it’s the photographs, mementos and letters left by loved ones that will really tug at your heartstrings. And want to know something truly amazing?! All these things left by loved ones are collected by the National Parks Service collects, catalogues and preserves all these items. You can see them by clicking here

Okay Okay. I know I said Top 5… but I can’t not mention The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial! The newest of the memorials, this ground breaking was designed with quotes from his speeches in mind. His likeness rises from a “stone of hope” from the “mountain of despair”. And it is seriously stunning!

And those my friends, are just my personal favorites. Other monuments and memorials to check out? Constitution Gardens, FDR Memorial, Korean War Memorial, and the Mall itself.

Now that we’ve covered the basics. It’s time to talk about the best way to visit them.

Not knowing much about the layout of D.C. and how freakin’ big The National Mall actually is, we decided to see the monuments in one morning. Walking. (If you’re familiar with the area, I know you’re dying of laughter right now.) This was not smart. And I seriously wouldn’t recommend it AT ALL. Learn from my mistakes, and don’t try to see all the monuments between 7 and 10 am then visit 3 Smithsonian Museums that afternoon.

YOU WILL DIE Or at least be super exhausted and fall asleep in your stinky sweaty clothes only to wake up to your future husband shaking you saying it’s 9 pm and he’s hungry. Not like I’m speaking from personal experience or anything. 😉

I’d actually recommend taking a tour! Don’t worry… not all these options are the kind of tours that have a guide in the front with a flag that you have to follow.

Bike and Roll. This tour is the one I’ve got my eye on for next time I’m in D.C. While you can book actual tours with guides (check them out here) I like the Bike Rental option. Starting at $16 (for a minimum 2 hour rental, $8 for each additional hour) you can rent a bike to get you around D.C. I think this would be the perfect way to see all the monuments without killing yourself to walk to them all by foot in a short amount of time. Learn more about Bike and Roll, and make reservations here

Big Bus Tours is a D.C. favorite for a reason. Why? You’ll be able to see all the iconic landmarks at your own pace, because of it’s Hop On, Hop Off feature. For $35 (if you purchase beforehand) you can catch a bus at every single landmark, and spend as much time at each as you’d like. Is this the tour I would personally choose? Probably not. However, for those of you that have children or older folks along, that aren’t up for walking/biking between monuments and memorials, this is the perfect tour for you. Learn more about Big Bus Tours D.C. here. 

And of course… you can walk it. Now, I would have ZERO problem walking this if it was the only thing I planned and could do it at a leisurely pace. Just know, you will be walking anywhere from 2-4 miles (or more depending on which monuments you decide to see, and where they are located).

Oh man you guys. All this writing about D.C. is REALLY making me want to go back. Anyone up for a summer vacay?

I’m off to go take more medicine and crawl back in bed. Enjoy the sunshine for me!

Xx.
Savannah

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