Fall on the Mall

Fall on the Mall

Although I had visited D.C. often before coming to TWC, I hadn’t been here when it really looks like fall. I’d heard multiple people from New England like me, say that fall isn’t the same anywhere else because there are no colorful leaves. They said all the trees just turn brown and shed. I was pleasantly surprised to find this assertion mostly false and think the milder weather makes up for the foliage.


The National Archives viewed from the Hirshhorn Museum.

Even so, the evening my roommates and I decided to take a couple of their relatives on a stroll it was pretty brisk. We only had a few hours to do a crash course on the landmarks and memorials so we had to maximize time. Here’s my monument/landmark crash course that I’ve developed so you can see the most when time is against you.

First, I recommend getting off the Metro at McPherson Square and starting at The White House. Particularly if you or your guests haven’t been there yet; it is possibly the most important building in Washington and you’ll want to make sure you can say you were there before you die. I like the view from the North side because you’re closer to it, but the postcard picture, if you want to have it as a souvenir, needs to be taken from outside the fence of the South Lawn. You can also take care of seeing the Washington Monument while you’re over there.


The Washington Monument across the Tidal Basin at dusk.

With those two major items off your list, you start moving towards the memorials and the Reflecting Pool. Make your way over to the World War Two memorial, walk through and around it. You’ll see the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial from there. Walk towards them along the northern path that runs parallel to the Reflecting Pool and make a detour to walk along the Vietnam Wall.


The Vietnam Wall with fall foliage in the background.

From there, it’s another five minutes to the Lincoln Memorial where you can walk up the steps and, if you’re like us, take a break from the cold. The memorial also has bathrooms in case you need to make a pit stop. Moving on down towards the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, you can pass through the Korean War Memorial without getting too far off track.

Across Independence Avenue, is the MLK Memorial. It’s on the edge of the tidal basin, an inlet in the Potomac River around which sit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. If you’re visiting in the spring, this is where the famous cherry trees blossom, peaking sometime in April depending on the weather. You can also rent out a paddle boat and explore the tidal basin by water (if you’re around between mid-March and Columbus Day).


The Jefferson Memorial from across the Tidal Basin at dusk.


Colorful leaves floating in the Tidal Basin.

The FDR Memorial is a little less scenic in the fall/winter but it’s still one of my favorites. The dramatic water features, nighttime lighting and artwork all come together nicely. It’s a great lead-up to the Jefferson Memorial where you can sit, relax and rub your feet before walking up 12 St. and getting back on the Metro at Smithsonian Station.

Enjoy your trip!


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