DC is full of monuments honoring famous people and wars. I think they can be a great opportunity to teach us (and our kids) about our history. And the more I know ahead of time, the more I’m able to help my kids, or those with me, realize and recognize the significance of the monument.
Let me just say up front, that walking to all of the monuments on a hot summer day can be a little bit brutal. I’ve done it many times, and lived to tell the tale, but let me tell you how I’d much rather see them:
1. At night. In DC the warm temperatures don’t go away with the nightfall, but without the sun beating down on you, it’s a little more bearable. And the monuments are all lit up at night, making them so beautiful. And besides that, at least for my kids, there’s a sense of adventure for them being outside in the dark—instead of getting ready for bed! When we do evening visits, we’re usually always able to find parking along Constitution Ave, which is closer to the monuments.
2. On bikes. We love seeing the monuments on our bikes during the day. It makes the distances seem so much shorter, and we can see so much more in less time. Consider bringing your bikes or renting them to see the monuments.
We usually start at the World War II Memorial. From there we head toward the Lincoln Memorial, stopping at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the way. After the Lincoln Memorial, we visit the Korean War Memorial.
At that point, if we’re going to go on, we’ll cross Independence Avenue (you have to walk down it a bit to safely cross it). Usually we cross the street right near the Martin Luther King Memorial, which we’ll visit next. This monument is on the Tidal Basin, so after visiting it, we’ll continue around the Tidal Basin to the Roosevelt Memorial. Then we’ll head to the Jefferson Monument to complete the monuments in the Mall/Tidal Basin Area.
Before you start exploring the Monuments, either pick up a Junior Ranger Activity Booklet from a park ranger or print one out (See link below). We love Junior Ranger programs, and have done them all over the country. I can’t say enough good things about them, as they get kids involved and interested in things they’re seeing.