Museums, Monuments, and Memorials

While I must agree that taxpayer dollars are not always used in the most beneficial ways, the one thing I would never oppose coming out of the check I get at the end of every week of my unpaid internship (jokes) is the funding to light up the National Mall every night. The Mall is everything that represents why the US of A lets freedom ring on a daily basis. If the weather were to not to be growing colder with every passing day, I would spend every night watching the sun go down behind Pentagon City and the Lincoln Memorial. The Reflecting Pool that covers the area between the World War II Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial takes in the light of the setting sun and displays a mirror image of the sky at dusk. This may be a shock to some of the residents of IV, but the DC sunsets definitely rival your polluted Instagram feeds of cotton candy colored skies. And while on the subject of IV, I’m starting to deeply miss Hana Kitchen and Kaptain’s Mac… and my friends, I guess I miss you guys too. Hi Everyone!

rachael sunset washington monument

A review on the museums, monuments, and memorials I have spent time at thus far:

The Newseum: Located on Pennsylvania Avenue right across from the National Archives. If you have the time, and are willing to pay upwards of $10-15 then definitely go check it out. I was lucky enough to go in for free with my class, Media and Politics (which is one of the most interesting classes I’ve ever taken and I highly suggest it if you are studying at UCDC), but if you are not in the class ask for a student discount and it will take the $20 ticket down by half. The Pulitzer Prize winning hall of photographs was both moving and amazing. Everything in that hall is iconic, and you would be surprised at how many photos you automatically recognize. There is a small theater with a short film on the press coverage of 9/11 (be prepared to cry) with a beautiful dedication to those we lost that day. There are also halls of old newspapers ranging from anything having to do with Buffalo Bill and the Wild West to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Also displayed are portions of the Berlin Wall and an exhibit of the dogs of the First Families throughout the years (my roommate and I were quite upset Barney Bush was not featured since he is one of the most legendary). Located on the sixth floor is also a patio that gives a good Insta opportunity of the Capitol building.Rachael and friend at newseum

*Also speaking of student discounts, my newly learned advice from this week is to ask for a student discount whenever and wherever you go. DC loves its students and there is never harm in asking*

The Natural History Museum (Smithsonian): Located on the National Mall, this museum is one of the most interesting of the Smithsonians. While I did not spend crazy amounts of time in the animal exhibits, because who wants to see stuffed animals when you can go to the National Zoo (also a Smithsonian) that is right on the other side of town, I did spend a lot of time in the gemstone and ancient artifacts exhibits. The Hope Diamond resides in this museum and it is beyond worth it to check it out. There are also exhibits of ancient Egyptian mummies and relics as well as a walk through butterfly exhibit.

National Mall Monuments: Walk the Mall! It takes about 2.5-3 hours so wear comfortable shoes. The best way I found to do it was to take the Metro to the Smithsonian stop and walk through the middle of the Mall itself, hang right to check out the Vietnam Memorial, go back towards Lincoln, head through the Korean War Memorial, and walk around the Tidal Basin passing through the MLK, FDR, and Jefferson Monuments, ending back on the other side walking past the Bureau of Printing and Engraving and the Washington Monument and heading back towards the White House which is only a few blocks away from the Washington Center.

Washington Monument – Go to the top. While I have yet to be to the top of this towering obelisk this trip because my office is scheduled for the National Interior Monuments tour later in November, I have been up to the top before and it is one of the best sites of DC.

World War II Memorial – One of the most well thought out memorials on the Mall. The design has both Atlantic and Pacific towers on either side as well as pillars for each of the 50 states including territories and districts. There are scriptures on the walls surrounding a fountain in the middle and on one side of the wall there are hundreds of gold stars that represent hundreds of thousands of soldiers who fought in WWII. There are engravings of all the battles surrounding the smaller fountains on each side as well as massive statues in each of the Atlantic and Pacific towers. Take the time to read the scriptures on the walls, and take a tissue *commence feels*.

Lincoln Memorial – I would also take the time to read the engravings on the walls inside the Lincoln Memorial. They consist of some of his most famous speeches including the Gettysburg Address. After you stand in awe at the statue of the man, the myth, the Lincoln himself and get your snap chats out to everyone in your contact list that is sick of your snaps of iconic places around DC, take a seat on the steps of the monument and people watch. While I was there I saw a pre-law fraternity give their pledge oaths and many a type of people from all over the world come through the pillars of the memorial of America’s favorite top hat wearing, slavery abolishing president.

War Memorials – Both the Korean and Vietnam War Memorials are also worth checking out. I advise seeing both of these during the day though if possible. By the time I got around to them on my night time stroll, they were dark and hard to read the inscriptions.

MLK Jr. and FDR Memorial – These both lie on the edge of the Tidal Basin. I was surprised at how amazing the MLK Jr. Memorial was because I feel like it is one of the least talked about, but it was one of the most impressive in my opinion. They managed to carve him out of stone with some of his most famous quotes of hope and aspirations for civil rights into the walls surrounding him. The FDR Memorial is further on your way to the Jefferson Memorial and is worth stopping by. It is a longer maze sort of structure and the builders even gave shout outs to his dog Fala and wife Eleanor, both part of the A team during the Roosevelt Administration.

AND FINALLY the Jefferson Memorial – Positioned on the furthest side of the Tidal Basin possible, bordering Virginia, the Jefferson Memorial is a structure like that to the National Archives. It is a dedication to one of our country’s Founding Fathers and is an architectural feat. Quick warning, if you go there at night you are bound to see red foxes on the side of the basin as well as cruising around the Jefferson Memorial. While they are cute enough to pet, I’m sure they have rabies or something so let them do their thing and be on your way.

Till next time,



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