Hear about National Parks in Washington D.C. and the vicinity as the Amateur Traveler talks to Erik Smith about monuments, memorials, mansions, battlefields, gardens, and more.
Erik is closing in on seeing all the National Park sites in the lower 48 states.
Erik says, “the best place to start in Washington D.C. is the National Mall which is run by the National Park Service. While there isn’t anything that says national park on the mall obviously there are a bunch of monuments and memorials on this quintessential piece of American geography.”
On the Mall, the national park sites include such well-known places as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and the war memorials of the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and WWII. Part of the main Mall area is also Constitution Gardens.
The Washington Monument was briefly the word’s tallest building and is still the world’s tallest monument. If you look closely, you will see it has stones with two different colors. The line in between marks when they ran out of money building it in 1854. Construction did not continue until 22 years later.
Erik recommends visiting the National Mall at night when it is lit up.
Just off the Mall are the newer memorials to FDR and MLK Jr which are around the same reflecting pool as the Jefferson Memorial. Across the Potomac River is Arlington National Cemetary. On the grounds of the cemetery is the Arlington House which is run by the park service. The house used to belong to Robert E. Lee, who married a descendant of Martha Washington.
In the D.C. area, the park service also runs some green spaces like George Washington Memorial Parkway, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Rock Creek Park, Anacostia Park, and Great Falls. Rock Creek Park has a working grist mill but is also full of biking and hiking trails. Fort Washington Park is part of the Civil War defenses of Washington D.C. One of Erik’s favorite green spaces is Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens.
There are a few sites in the D.C. area dedicated to African American history. This includes the historic homes of Frederick Douglas, Mary McLeod Bethune, and Carter G. Woodson. Douglas was one of the best-known abolitionists. McLeod Bethune was the founder of the National Council of Negro Women. Woodson is best known for founding Black History month.
Ford’s Theatre in D.C. is where Lincoln was shot. The Peterson house where he died across the street is also part of the park site.
The other performing arts site that is a national park in the area is Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in nearby northern Virginia. Northern Virginia also has a number of national battlefield parks from Manassas to Petersburg. George Washington Birthplace National Monument is also in the area (it is not Mount Vernon).
Within a day’s drive from D.C., you will find some other national parks that we give a nod to as well.
There is much to see in Washington D.C. If you are a fan of history or willing to become one, then D.C. needs to be on your bucket list. While you are there, check out some of these great national parks.
US National Parks
National parks to Explore in DC
NPS – DC
The White House
National World War II Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
The Three Soldiers
Vietnam Women’s Memorial
National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Arlington National Cemetery
George Washington Memorial Parkway
Theodore Roosevelt Island
Rock Creek Park
Fort Washington Park
Prince William Forest Park
Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens
20 African-American history destinations in Washington, D.C.
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts
Manassas National Battlefield Park
Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park
Richmond National Battlefield Park
Petersburg National Battlefield
George Washington Birthplace National Monument
Colonial National Historical Park
Shenandoah National Park
National Park Passport Stamps
Clara Barton National Historic Site
Glen Echo Park
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I love listening to this podcast that Cris put together so well to bring on guests about places to travel and share their experiences in each destination! I love the questions that Chris asks his guests on the show and I find this podcast really relaxing to listen to when driving to work or cleaning and cooking home! I am so grateful for Chris and his preparations for each episode of the show he shared with us here to travel around the world!
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