This is a casual walking tour of our nation's most famous monuments and memorials. The tour is mostly on well-marked, level terrain. Some monuments have stairs and some also have elevators for easy access. These sites are handicapped-friendly places. You should be in reasonable condition to walk approximately 3 miles over the 3 hours of the tour.
First of all, a desire to enjoy the beautiful and powerful monuments and memorials on the National Mall in Washington D.C. You're on vacation, so let's have fun! And of course, some basics:
Comfortable walking shoes. Really, there will be no fashion judges on the tour! And even if we see one, we'll pay no attention to them. Wear what you are comfortable with.
A backpack for water, spare batteries, etc.
2 to 3 bottles of water per person, especially on warm days.
Your fully charged camera. Don’t forget to bring spare batteries in case you need them.
A jacket or sweater if the forecast requires.
An umbrella or raincoat if there is a chance of showers.
Sunscreen. You can get burned even in cloudy weather. Our tour guide has personally helped put his dermatologist’s kids through college.
Your sunglasses—and probably a hat.
Any medicines you may be required to take during the 3 hour tour.
Any munchies you’ll want during the tour. We don’t stop for meals! Also note that the National Park Service does NOT permit food or beverages other than water inside of the Memorials. You'll need to snack between Memorials.
Washington D.C. can be wicked cold in the winter and a humid oven in the middle of summer. Many days are perfect. Just check the weather and dress accordingly. We recommend that you check www.nbcwashington.com for pretty good local D.C. weather forecasts. If it looks like the weather is going to be bad, we’ll cancel the tour and refund your money. However, if the forecast calls for scattered showers or snow flurries, we’re going on a walk! We won’t intentionally put our clients in any weather danger. Sudden downpours can occur without much warning, so we do recommend bringing a rain poncho or umbrella if there is a chance of rain in the forecast. If we need to cancel the scheduled tour, it is important that we have your email and cell phone number in order to contact you as soon as we know of a change in plans.
All tours start promptly at 9:00 AM or 2:00 PM from the bottom of the steps in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Please be considerate of others on the tour and be ready to go. The Washington D.C. traffic is terrible—some of the worst in the country. ‘The Mall’ is a big place. The Lincoln Memorial is 2 miles away from the Capitol. Lincoln is at the western end of ‘The Mall’. During the weekdays, parking is virtually non-existent, and your best bet is to take the Metro, a cab, or Uber—and again, give yourself plenty of time. The closest Metro stop is Foggy Bottom, served by the Orange, Blue, and Silver Lines. We can say that the Metro is generally clean, safe, and sometimes, it’s even on time! It is a 20-minute walk from Foggy Bottom Metro to the Lincoln Memorial—and it’s all downhill! Of course, it’s all uphill going back. If you’re staying at a hotel in D.C., you’re probably very close to a Metro train station. Give yourself a few extra minutes at the Metro to familiarize yourself with the color-coded routes, stops, etc. and you’ll get to use your master’s degree to purchase fare cards. If you are visiting the Metro for the first time during the morning rush hour and trying to buy a fare card—really, we’re nice people. Just in a hurry!
There are a number of restrooms on the tour and we’ll stop if you need to. Restrooms are in Lincoln, MLK, FDR, Jefferson, World War II, and near Vietnam.
Because the tours are in the morning or in the afternoon, there are no stops for meals. If you think you’ll get hungry during the tour, you can bring some snacks and you can eat as we walk. Of course, we ask that you dispose of your trash in the appropriate trash containers. We’re proud of our beautiful city!
We hope that you’ll find the tour interesting enough that you won’t be on Facebook or texting the entire tour; but even if you are, please be considerate of others.
Our tour guide’s goal is not just to recite a bunch of facts about the memorials that you could read in a guide book. He has been working with the National Park Service on the National Mall since 2001, and has had the opportunity to talk to literally hundreds of thousands of visitors. He has learned from the many great National Park Service rangers he has worked with over the years, from research, and nearly 10,000 hours of volunteer experience. We’ll try to keep the tour informative and interesting and we’ll spend 15-20 minutes at each of the big memorials. They are all fascinating—and a part of the American history. At the end of the tour, we hope that you’ve made new friends, and can return home with a renewed sense of awe about this amazing and beautiful city. Let’s have some fun!
Due to time constraints, it is simply not possible to spend extensive time at each site - reading all of the quotes, speeches, etc. We'll cover the highlights and give you time to take photographs - but we need to cover a lot of ground in 3 hours!
You paid for the tour and that’s good enough for us! But if you feel that our tour guide did a great job and you want to tip, that’s great as well. This is how he makes his living so our tour guide is happy if you’re happy and want to tip.
From time to time, memorials or monuments are closed for maintenance or repairs. We’ll do our best to have you visit as many of the major memorials as we can. As an example, they don’t run the fountains and waterfalls in the World War II Memorial during winter as the water often blows onto the plaza and freezes.
Generally, if there is maintenance at a Memorial, the National Park Service tries to work on one major project at a time and not have multiple memorials impacted.
The goal is to cover the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Martin Luther King Memorial, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, The World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, walk past Constitution Gardens, visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and finish back at Lincoln. There are some statues we'll talk about along the way such as those of John Ericsson, George Mason, and John Paul Jones (no, not the John Paul Jones who was the bass player for Led Zeppelin!).
On weekends in particular, there are often marathons, marches, protests, rallies, a national kite flying contest, an Easter Sunrise service on the steps of Lincoln, the National Breast Cancer Walk, The Women's March on Washington, Gay Pride, Right to Life March, the 4th of July fireworks, the Cherry Blossom Festival, the 300,000 motorcycle parade called Rolling Thunder on Memorial Day weekend, and etc. Some of these events can draw hundreds of thousands of people. We'll do our best to navigate around these events but sometimes we simply cannot get to a memorial due to a particular event.
This tour focuses on the major monuments and memorials. You could spend years in Washington D.C. and not see everything so please consider this tour as a foundation of your understanding of this great city. There are nearly 20 Smithsonian museums to explore in D.C. You can tour the Capitol, the Air and Space Museum with Lindberg's plane, the Natural History Museum with the Hope Diamond and the dinosaurs, the American History Museum with the collection of the First Ladies' dresses and Dorthy's slippers, the incredible National Art Museum, the Library of Congress (one of our favorites), the White House with advance tickets, the Newseum (amazing place), the International Spy Museum, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving (buy an uncut sheet of the U.S. currency), the Law Enforcement Memorial, rent a paddle boat and enjoy the Tidal Basin, visit Old Town Alexandria, the Botanical Gardens, the world famous Baltimore Aquarium just an hour away, the National Cathedral, the National Zoo, The Holocaust Museum, the new National Museum of African-American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian, the National Archives with the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address, the Supreme Court, the Old Post Office tower for a great view of the city, Arlington National Cemetery and the powerful 'Changing of the Guard', JFK's grave and the Robert E. Lee Mansion, the Marine Corp 'Iwo Jima' Memorial, the Air Force Memorial, the Navy Memorial, evening concerts at the Netherlands Carillion, evening concerts at the Marine Barracks at 8th and I, the Georgetown waterfront, the Kennedy Center, the Watergate Hotel, Ford's Theatre where Lincoln was assassinated, the National Building Museum and a million things more. We will also be happy to suggest some of Virginia's outstanding wineries and other day trips around DC. Just ask for my list when we're on the tour. Plan your trip, talk about the things you want to see, and then schedule your time. We've got major league sports such as baseball, basketball, football, and hockey. We're close to George Washington's home at Mount Vernon, within an hour drive of some of the major battlefields of the Civil War, and just 2 hours to Gettysburg. Annapolis is close—a fantastic town on the bay where you can tour the Naval Academy or sail a schooner ship. 'Monumental Tours' is just a part of the Washington experience—an important part—but just the beginning.
Generally, yes, there are. But we just don't have time to stop for shopping. You are welcome to return to any of the shops after the tour. Almost all of them are open 7 days a week.
I'm on a tight schedule. Is the tour really 3 hours?
Yes....rarely are we done in less than 3 - but our goal is to have you back at the Lincoln Memorial no later than 3 hours 15 minutes after we start. If you have to leave early, we understand. There are, however, no refunds or discounts for a visitor not being able to stay with us for the entire tour.
I've got an elderly person who will need a wheel chair. Can you accommodate them?
Yes...all of the Memorials we visit are handicapped accessible through ramps or elevators. We do not provide wheelchairs. The National Park Service has some available, but only for each Memorial, not for an entire multi-hour tour. If you'll need one, you should bring one.
Politics and religion?
The tour is for everyone who is interested in seeing the monuments and memorials. We'll leave politics to the Sunday morning talk shows. It's true that John Adams was for a strong Federal government and Thomas Jefferson wanted more power in the hands of the States. We may talk about that - but won't take sides.
Can you recommend other things to do in the DC area?
You bet! I have put together a list of great places to visit - in DC itself, day trips, wineries, Civil War and Revolutionary battlefields and more. Just ask for a copy when we are on the walk.
Starting point of the tour is the Lincoln Memorial
If you’re coming to visit Washington, D.C., why not do it the right way? With Monumental Walks, you get to walk with a local expert as you learn about the capital’s beautiful memorials and monuments. Read our tour FAQs where you can find the tour schedules and tour guidelines so you can get the most out of your visit. As we limit the group size, you can expect plenty of opportunities to ask questions, take photographs, and actually enjoy your visit. This is not your old-school big bus tours with little interaction with the guide. Go ahead and plan your trip today!
Now that you’ve read our tour FAQs, you’re ready to experience a guided tour like no other. You may also want to browse through our tour gallery and testimonials to discover some images of our tours and read what our previous clients have said about us. If you have further inquiries, please do call or email. We’ll try to get back to you with the information you need as soon as possible.
Allen McCabe, Executive Vice-President and Senior Tour Guide