A Walking Night Tour Of Washington D.C’s Historical Monuments    

Learn more about the ups and downs of US history while critically examining these majestic and historical monuments.

Do you want to escape from the hot and humid D.C. summers, but still visit all of the historical monuments? Then a night tour is your best bet. Under the moonnlight is the perfect setting to visit famous sites without crowds. Note: This walking tour will most likely last two hours long.

Start at the FDR Memorial

1850 West Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242

FDR Memorial
FDR Memorial. Photo by: Vivian Bauer

This is one of my favorite monuments especially during the stunning cherry blossom season in March and April. First, park near the memorial and as you walk through it, enjoy all the little details. There are quotes and sculptures of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt at every corner. There are also subtle details that highlight their work towards helping the American people during the Great Depression with the momentous Great New Deal. This monument is also located on the tranquil tidal basin where you can see a gorgeous view of the Washington Monument.

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20003

MLK Jr. Memorial
MLK Jr. Memorial. Photo by: Vivian Bauer

Next, follow along the tidal basin to get to the MLK Jr. Memorial. This is one of the newest memorials in D.C and honors the late civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr. Sculpted by Lei Yixin, the stone represent his infamous speech: Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope. Behind the 30 feet sculpture are dozens of inspirational and inspirational quotes uttered by MLK Jr. himself. One of my personal favorites is, “True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”

World War II Memorial

1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024

World War II Memorial
World War II Memorial. Photo by: Vivian Bauer

After, visit the extravagant and dramatic World War II Memorial which has a courtyard that surrounds a beautiful fountain with the names of each state and territory that fought in the war. It is always fun to try and find your favorite state and snap a photo as well as dip your toes in the fountain. This memorial also has a gorgeous view of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument which glimmer throughout the night.

Lincoln Memorial

2 Lincoln Memorial Cir NW, Washington, DC 20002

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial. from Pixabay

Abraham Lincoln’s grand memorial is one of the most iconic sites in Washington D.C.. It stands as the site for numerous civil rights protests, as well as significant political events. Above the stairs, Lincoln’s statue is intentionally created five times bigger than any human, so that his accomplishments and honor can live forever within the history of the United States. One big myth is that Lincoln freed enslaved people. Yes, the Emancipation Proclamation was a major step towards justice, however, this was done as an advantageous wartime move during the Civil War so that the Union could weaken the South, not exactly due to moral reasons. Also, many enslaved people weren’t aware that they were free until even a few years later. Therefore when you visit this magnificent monument, remember to do your research so that you can fully understand Lincoln’s legacy as an American president.

Vietnam War Memorial

5 Henry Bacon Dr NW, Washington, DC 20245

Vietnam Memorial
Vietnam Memorial. Photo by: Vivian Bauer

I don’t usually love war memorials, especially ones that are more celebratory and ignore the innocent lives that were lost. This memorial sculpted by Maya Lin, however, does a beautiful job of truly honoring the American lives sacrificed during the war. Lin also recently designed the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Another heartbreaking, yet lovely feature of the Vietnam Memorial is that loved ones can look up the names of those who died and find their exact location on the wall. It is also important to note that upon reaching towards the middle of the memorial, your surroundings suddenly become dead quiet. To the point in which you cannot see anything except the dark and somber wall. This is purposeful on Lin’s part, it is a call on us to reflect upon our role in the Vietnam War and to truly sit with the tragedy.

End at the Korean War Memorial

900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024

Korean War Memorial
Korean War Memorial. from Pixabay

This last memorial on our tour is another somber site that allows you to step into the shoes of American soldiers. It is also quite spooky at night because sometimes I mix up the figures in the memorial for real human beings. I think that seeing this landmark at night makes the experience even more whole by forcing us to reflect upon the trauma and sacrifices that soldiers experience during war. I hope that through this walking tour you learn more about American history and our involvement with tragic wars across the globe. It is crucial to constantly educate ourselves and never forget about the past so that we do not repeat our mistakes.

Vivian Bauer

Editor

Vivian is passionate about everything related to music, art, and language. When traveling, she loves to walk for miles, try all kinds of food, and visit every museum. She has lived in Singapore, Belgium, and Brazil while hoping to one day travel to Mongolia and East Timor.

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