Washington DC’s National Mall: Top 15 Things to Do

Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution

It could be said that the Mall—the heart of almost every visitor’s trip to Washington—has influenced life in the U.S. more than any other expanse of lawn. People come here from around the globe to tour the illustrious Smithsonian Institution museums, honor our leaders and veterans, celebrate special events, or rally to make the world a better place. Tip: Remember that all the museums, monuments, and memorials on the Mall are free to the public.

Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution

Eat, drink, watch, listen, and learn at an outdoor cultural festival.

randomduck / flickr

Ride the old-fashioned carousel in front of the Smithsonian Castle.

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Eric Long/NASM courtesy Smithsonian Institution

See the original Spirit of St. Louis, and learn how things fly at the National Air and Space Museum.

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Jason Hawkes / Destination DC

Read the Gettysburg Address at the Lincoln Memorial

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Focus on Nature / iStockPhoto

Gross out your friends at the Natural History Museum’s Insect Zoo.

Learn More: National Museum of Natural History review

catface3 / flickr

View the Washinton Monument—ideally with fireworks on the Fourth of July.

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Photo courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Gawk at Dorothy’s ruby slippers and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat at the American History Museum.

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Destination DC

Twirl around the ice skating rink in the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden.

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View astonishing wooden masks at the Museum of African Art.

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Alex Rinaldi / flickr

Exercise your First Amendment rights by joining a rally or protest.

Renée Comet, Restaurant Associates and Smithsonian Institution

Taste Native American dishes at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Mitsitam Cafè.

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Pose with sculptures by Auguste Rodin and Henry Moore at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.

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Courtesy Destination DC

View the Jefferson Memorial from a paddle boat in the Tidal Basin—especially if the cherry blossoms are blooming.

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Alan Gilbert, courtesy of USHMM Photo Archives

Follow the lives (and deaths) of the people in Nazi Germany at the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

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courtesy of the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, Inc. / Johnny Bivera

Visit the National Mall’s newest addition: the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Learn More: Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Review