The 26 Best Washington, D.C. Monuments and Memorials

Washington, D.C. is a city of monuments and memorials. Although the most famous monuments and memorials are on the National Mall, you will find statues and plaques on many street corners around the city. Since Washington, D.C.'s monuments are spread out, it is hard to visit all of them on foot. At busy times, traffic and parking make it difficult to visit the monuments by car. The best way to see the major monuments is to take a sightseeing tour. Many of the memorials are open late at night and their illumination makes nighttime a prime time to visit.

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Lincoln Memorial

Wide shot of the Lincoln Memorial

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

Washington, DC 20037, USA

The memorial is one of the most visited attractions in the nation’s capital. It was dedicated in 1922 to honor President Abraham Lincoln. Here, 38 Grecian columns surround a statue of Lincoln seated on a 10-foot high marble base. This impressive statue is surrounded by engraved readings of the Gettysburg address, his Second Inaugural address, and murals by French painter Jules Guerin. The reflecting pool is lined by walking paths and shady trees and frames the structure providing outstanding views.

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Washington Monument

Washington monument during the day

TripSavvy / Taylor McIntyre

2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024, USA

The memorial to George Washington, the first president of the United States, has recently been refurbished to its original splendor. The Washington Monument is the tallest of all of Washington, D.C.'s attractions at 555 feet high. At one point, it was the tallest in the world until the Eiffel Tower was built. From the top of the monument, visitors can see for over 30 miles on a clear day.

You can take the elevator to the top and see a wonderful view of the city. The monument is one of the most popular attractions in the nation's capital. Free tickets are required and should be reserved in advance. The monument is open every day of the year (except for July 4 and December 25) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Exterior of the Holocaust Museum in DC

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Phone +1 202-488-0400

The museum, located near the National Mall, serves as a memorial to the millions of people who were murdered during the Holocaust. The museum is free to enter and timed passes are distributed on a first–come-first–served basis. The museum has two permanent exhibitions, a Hall of Remembrance, and numerous rotating exhibitions, which sometimes focus on genocides in other parts of the world or art projects related to the Holocaust. The museum has many stories to share, so make sure you have a few hours to spend here.

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Jefferson Memorial

Exterior of the Jefferson Memorial

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

16 E Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, USA
Phone +1 202-426-6841

The dome-shaped rotunda honors the nation's third president with a 19-foot bronze statue of Jefferson surrounded by passages from the Declaration of Independence. The memorial is located on the Tidal Basin, surrounded by a grove of trees making it especially beautiful during Cherry Blossom season in the spring.

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D.C. War Memorial

The District of Columbia War Memorial

Jeffrey D. Walters / Getty Images

Washington, DC 20245, USA
Phone +1 202-245-4715

This circular, open-air memorial commemorates the 26,000 citizens of Washington, D.C. who served in World War I. The structure is made of Vermont marble and is large enough to accommodate the entire U.S. Marine Band. The structure was intended to be a bandstand and construction was completed in 1931 and it was recently restored in 2010 with a new paint job plus a light system and more functional landscape. It's one of the smallest memorials in the National Mall and is located north of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial across Independence Avenue.

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Eisenhower Memorial

a sculpture of a boy outside the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial at the base of Capitol Hill

Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial NPS

540 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Phone +1 267-530-2407

Plans are underway to build a national memorial to honor President Dwight D. Eisenhower on a four-acre site near the National Mall. The memorial will feature a grove of oak trees, huge limestone columns, and a semicircular space made monolithic stone blocks and carvings and inscriptions that depict images of Eisenhower’s life. The memorial is located at the base of Capitol Hill and centers on a memorial area, from which you can explore the branches of Eisenhower's legacy through bronze sculptures, stone reliefs, and famous quotes. The memorial was designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, who is most famous for designing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

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Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

Waterfall at Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) Memorial, Washington DC, USA.

OlegAlbinsky / Getty Images

1850 West Basin Dr SW, Washington, DC 20242, USA

The unique site is divided into four outdoor galleries, one for each of FDR's terms in office from 1933 to 1945. It is set on a beautiful spot along the Tidal Basin on over 7.5 acres. It was the first monument in Washington, D.C. that was designed to be wheelchair accessible. Several sculptures depict the 32nd President, but the artificial waterfall is one of the best parts of the monument and symbolizes the president's love of swimming and also his support of water power projects. Dog-lovers should keep an eye out for Fala, a bronze sculpture of FDR's beloved Scottish terrier. Onsite, you'll find a bookstore and public restrooms.

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Korean War Veterans Memorial

Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

Peter Gridley / Getty Images

900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA

The U.S. honors those who were killed, captured, wounded, or remain missing in action during the Korean War (1950 -1953) with 19 figures that represent every ethnic background. The statues are supported by a granite wall with 2,400 faces of land, sea, and air support troops. A Pool of Remembrance lists the names of the lost Allied Forces.

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Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial located in Washington, DC

gregobagel / Getty Images

1964 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20003, USA
Phone +1 202-426-6841

The memorial, set on the corner of the Tidal Basin in the heart of Washington D.C., honors Dr. King’s national and international contributions and vision for all to enjoy a life of freedom, opportunity, and justice. The centerpiece is the “Stone of Hope”, a 30-foot statue of Dr. King, with a wall that is inscribed with excerpts of his sermons and public addresses.

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Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial in DC

SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

5 Henry Bacon Dr NW, Washington, DC 20245, USA

A V-shaped granite wall is inscribed with the names of over 58,000 Americans missing or killed in the Vietnam War. The names are etched slabs of black granite on two long walls, which sink into the ground. Designed by Maya Lin, the shape of the memorial symbolizes a healing wound. Across the lawn is a life-size bronze sculpture of three young servicemen looking at the memorial from afar and there is a women's memorial that depicts three nurses in uniform tending to a wounded soldier.

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World War II Memorial

WWII Memorial at Twilight

Kevin Voelker Photography / Getty Images

1750 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Phone +1 202-426-6841

The memorial combines granite, bronze, and water elements with beautiful landscaping to create a peaceful place to remember those who served during World War II. The National Park Service offers daily tours of the memorial every hour on the hour. There are two large arches in the memorial which represent the war from both the Pacific and Atlantic fronts. The Freedom Wall is adorned with 4,000 gold stars which represent the over 400,000 Americans who died during the war. There are designated sections of the memorial which commemorate important dates of major events like Pearl Harbor and D-Day.

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Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

Arlington, VA, USA
Phone +1 877-907-8585

America's largest burial ground is the site of the graves of more than 400,000 American servicemen, plus notable historic figures such as President John F. Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and world champion boxer Joe Louis. There are dozens of monuments and memorials onsite including the Coast Guard Memorial, the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, the Spanish-American War Memorial, and the USS Maine Memorial. Major attractions include the Tomb of the Unknowns and the former home of Robert E. Lee.

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George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Facade of George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Glowimages / Getty Images

Park Rd, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA

Located in the heart of Old Town Alexandria, this memorial to George Washington highlights the contributions of Freemasons to the United States. The building also serves as a research center, a library, community center, performing arts center and concert hall, a banquet hall, and a meeting site for local and visiting Masonic lodges. Guided tours are available.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

a simple white marble sarcophagus (coffin) constructed with bright white marble, Neoclassical pilasters, wreaths, and Grecian figures decorate the marble panels. One panel is inscribed: HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.
Tom Brakefield/Getty Images
1 Wilson Ave, Fort Myer, VA 22211, USA
Phone +1 877-907-8585

In the center of Arlington National Cemetery, which is technically located in Arlington, Virginia, this monument is dedicated to service members whose remains could not be identified. In 1921, an unidentified soldier who served in World War I was interred in a marble tomb. Other unknown soldiers from later wars were added in the decades to come. The soldiers who guard the tomb follow a strict and symbolic routine of 21 steps and 21 seconds, which symbolizes the 21-gun salute, the highest military honor. Visitors may have the option to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony, but there is a limit of one group per day and it must be arranged in advance.

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Iwo Jima Memorial

Marine Corps War Memorial, or Iwo Jima memorial, honours US Marines who died for their country

Ed-Ni-Photo / Getty Images

Arlington, VA 22209, USA
Phone +1 703-289-2500

This memorial, also known as the United States Marine Corps War Memorial, is dedicated to the marines who gave their lives during one of the most historic battles of World War II, the battle of Iwo Jima. The statue depicts a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press as he watched the flag-raising by five Marines and a Navy hospital corpsman at the end of the 1945 battle.

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Pentagon Memorial

Pentagon memorial in Washington DC

Vacclav/Getty Images

1 N Rotary Rd, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
Phone +1 703-996-9853

The memorial, located on the grounds of the Pentagon, honors the 184 lives lost in the headquarters for the Department of Defense and on American Airlines Flight 77 during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The Memorial includes a park and gateway spanning approximately two acres. The age and location of each victim are inscribed on individual steel benches inlaid with granite, which are lit by a pool of water underneath. Crape Myrtle trees have been planted around the memorial and will eventually grow to 30-feet high to provide shade. On the western edge of the memorial the Age Wall representing the range of ages of the victims from 3 to 71 years old.

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United States Air Force Memorial

Air Force Memorial Honor Guard

Thorney Lieberman / Getty Images

1 Air Force Memorial Dr, Arlington, VA 22204, USA
Phone +1 703-979-0674

One of the newest memorials in the Washington, DC area, completed in September 2006, honors the millions of men and women who have served in the United States Air Force. Three spires represent a bomb burst maneuver as well as three core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence. A gift shop and restrooms are located in the Administrative Office at the north end of the memorial.

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Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Women in Military Service for American Memorial

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

Memorial Ave, Schley Dr, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
Phone +1 703-892-2606

The gateway to Arlington National Cemetery houses a Visitors Center with indoor exhibits that showcase the roles women have played in America's military history. There are film presentations, a 196-seat theater, and a Hall of Honor which provides recognition to women who died in service, were prisoners of war, or were recipients of awards for service and bravery.

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African American Civil War Memorial and Museum

Musicians play "We Shall Overcome" after a wreath laying at the African-American Civil War Memorial

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

1925 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001-4125, USA
Phone +1 202-667-2667

A Wall of Honor lists the names of 209,145 United States Colored Troops (USCT) who served in the Civil War. The museum explores the African American struggle for freedom in the United States with a collection of artifacts and documents. In the center of the city's U-Stree neighborhood, the memorial's sculpture depicts uniformed African American soldiers and a family. The museum is located in the Grimke building, which was named after Archibald Grimke who was born a slave in South Carolina and eventually became the second African American to graduate from Harvard Law School.

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Albert Einstein Memorial

Albert Einstein Memorial

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

2101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20418, USA

The memorial to Albert Einstein was built in 1979 in honor of the centennial of his birth. The 12-foot bronze figure is depicted seated on a granite bench holding a paper with mathematical equations summarizing three of Einstein’s most important scientific contributions. The memorial is located just north of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and is easy to get up close to.

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American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial

American Veterans Disabled For Life Memorial

Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

150 Washington Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Phone +1 202-426-6841

Located near the U.S. Botanic Garden, the memorial serves to educate, inform and remind all Americans of the human cost of war, and the sacrifices disabled veterans, their families, and caregivers, have made on behalf of American freedom. The design of the memorial centers around the pool's star-shaped fountain and glass panels which tell the stories of disabled soldiers. Within the pool, a ceremonial flame burns in the middle of the water as a tribute to the eternal strength and sacrifice. Throughout the memorial, there is also a tree grove and bronze sculptures with cutouts depicting the silhouettes of soldiers.

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George Mason Memorial

George Mason Monument

Radius Images/Getty Images

900 Ohio Dr SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA
Phone +1 202-426-6841

This is a monument to the author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, which inspired Thomas Jefferson while drafting the Declaration of Independence. Mason persuaded the American forefathers to include individual rights as a part of the Bill of Rights. The memorial was originally a public garden but in 2002, it was dedicated as a memorial. At the memorial, the sculpture of Mason is larger-than-life and sits under a long trellis. Behind the sculpture, are inscribed with quotes from Mason.

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Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove

Lyndon Johnson marker in the Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove on the former Columbia Island
George Washington Mem Pkwy, Washington, DC 20037, USA
Phone +1 703-235-1530

The grove of trees and 15 acres of gardens are a memorial to President Johnson and a part of the Lady Bird Johnson Park, which honors the former first lady's role in beautifying the country's landscape. The Memorial Grove is an ideal setting for picnics and has beautiful views of the Potomac River and the Washington, D.C. skyline. The memorial centers around a granite megalith which was quarried in Texas near the President's ranch.

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National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

Law enforcement memorial

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

450 F St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
Phone +1 202-737-3400

This monument honors the service and sacrifice of federal, state, and local law enforcers. A marble wall is inscribed with the names of more than 17,000 officers who have been killed in the line of duty since the first known death in 1792. A Memorial Fund is campaigning to build the National Law Enforcement Museum underground, beneath the monument.

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Theodore Roosevelt Island

Theodore Roosevelt Island. Trees surrounding a small foot bridge and small canal

TripSavvy / Victoria Chamberlain

Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, DC, USA

A 91-acre wilderness preserve serves as a memorial to the nation's 26th president, honoring his contributions to the conservation of public lands for forests, national parks, wildlife and bird refuges, and monuments. The island has 2.5 miles of foot trails where you can observe a variety of flora and fauna. A 17-foot bronze statue of Roosevelt stands in the center of the island.

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United States Navy Memorial

United States Navy Memorial

Fanchon Fryer / EyeEm/Getty Images

The memorial commemorates U. S. Naval history and honors all who have served in the sea services. The adjacent Naval Heritage Center displays interactive exhibits and hosts special events to recognize the past, present, and future of the U.S. Navy. The memorial depicts a map of the world known as the "Granite Sea" and the Lone Sailor statue, which represents all service members who have ever served at sea.

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The 26 Best Washington, D.C. Monuments and Memorials