National Parks In Washington D.C. In this article, More Than Just Parks introduces you to every important national park site in our nation’s capitol.
I’ve been to so many of these amazing places since retiring from teaching in 2018. Did I mention that I taught history? I spent a lifetime teaching about the history behind these momentous sites. Then I got to see them firsthand. And now I’m sharing the stories of these incredible places with you. It doesn’t get any better than that!
To be clear, this list includes national park sites (as in sites managed by the National Park Service) as opposed to national parks. To learn more about the difference between the various National Park Service designations check out our article that explains everything!
Now let’s go ahead with 36 reasons why you’ll want to make Washington D.C. your next vacation destination.
Why Trust Us About National Parks In Our Nation’s Capitol?
You should probably know that we don’t just make this stuff up out of thin air. My sons have spent their entire adult lives exploring and filming America’s national parks and public lands.
As for me, I’m a retired lifelong educator and a proud dad of these two wonderful guys who are hopelessly obsessed with the national parks. I taught history for over a quarter of a century. Now I enjoy researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks. I’m always on the hunt for topics where nature and history intersect so please feel free to share any ideas that you might have with me.
We’ve worked with the National Park Service, the Department of Interior, and the U.S. Forest Service for years creating films on important places and issues. Our work has been featured in leading publications all over the world and even some people outside of our immediate family call us experts on the national parks.
Meet The Parks Brothers
We’re Jim Pattiz and Will Pattiz, collectively known as the Pattiz Brothers (and sometimes the Parks Brothers) and we absolutely LOVE the national parks.
Our goal here at More Than Just Parks is to share the beauty of America’s national parks and public lands through stunning short films in an effort to get Americans and the world to see the true value in land conservation.
We hope you’ll follow our journey through the parks and help us to keep them the incredible places that they are. If you’re interested in joining the adventure then sign up below!
Washington DC National Parks
1. African American Civil War Museum
Dedicated in July of 1998, the mission of the African American Civil War Memorial & Museum is to correct a great wrong in history which pretty much ignored the heroic role of 209,145 US Colored Troops in ending slavery and keeping America united under one flag.
The Museum uses a rich collection of artifacts, documents, primary sources, and technology to create a meaningful learning experience for families, students, Civil War enthusiasts, and historians about the period from the American Civil War to Civil Rights and beyond.
It’s worth noting that over 200,000 African-American soldiers and sailors served in the U.S. Army and Navy during the Civil War. Their service helped to end the war and free over four million slaves. The African American Civil War Memorial honors their service and sacrifice.
The African American Civil War Memorial is a self-guided experience.
2. Anacostia Park
Also known as the “Anacostia Flats”, this was the site of the encampment of the Bonus Army in the summer of 1932. These veterans wanted early payment of a scheduled service bonus to help see them through the Great Depression.
Things To Do At Anacostia Park
At Anacostia Park, there are numerous things to do which include the following:
- Roller Skating at the Anacostia Skating Park Rink.
- Take the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail where you can explore 3.5 miles of paved trail in Anacostia Park.
- You can go boating. There’s a boat ramp located at the north end of Anacostia Drive SE. Vehicle and trailer parking is adjacent to the boat ramp.
- Picnicking & Grilling at the park’s picnic tables and grills.
- You can watch wildlife as anywhere along the Anacostia River Trail, you might spot some interesting wildlife.
- Visit the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.
3. Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
Home to the National Woman’s Party for more than 90 years, the Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument celebrates the struggle for women’s rights.
From this house in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol and Supreme Court, Alice Paul and the NWP developed innovative strategies and tactics to advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment and equality for women. President Barack Obama designated the national monument on April 12, 2016. (Source: NPS)
Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument is free and open to the public on Wednesday through Sunday from 9:00 AM until 5:00 PM.
4. Capitol Hill Parks
Washington D.C. includes several park areas east of the U.S. Capitol which visitors can enjoy.
Included in this group are Folger, Lincoln, Stanton, and Marion Parks, the Eastern Market and Potomac Avenue Metro stations, and several smaller land parcels such as Seward Square, Twining Square, the Maryland Avenue Triangles, the Pennsylvania Avenue Medians, and 59 inner-city triangles and squares.
5. Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail
Captain John Smith was an English explorer who played an pivotal role in America’s founding. Smith served on the governing council of Jamestown, Virginia He led two voyages on the Chesapeake Bay.
Smith’s contact with native tribes and his Chesapeake Bay voyages, documented in maps and journals, helped early English colonists learn about the region that became their new home.
Things To Do On The John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail
The John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail commemorates Captain Smith’s exploration of the Bay in 1607 through 1609, and is the nation’s first all-water national historic trail. It stretches over 3,000 miles and traverses most of the Chesapeake’s great rivers.
The trail is administered by the National Park Service. It connects with 16 National Wildlife Refuges, 12 National-Parks, and three other National Trails.
Trails I would recommend exploring include the following:
- The Billy Goat Trail-It’s a popular trail near Potomac, Maryland. This is a protected area designed to preserve the remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canals with the original structures still intact. The trail offers spectacular views of the Potomac River.
- Scott’s Run River Trail-It’s a wonderful area for nature trips, walking, and running. It features a beautiful waterfall. This is a beautifully wooded trail with a mix of inclines, flat areas, and areas with loose rocks.
- The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail-It’s a popular trail that leads up to an overlook of the Great Falls. You will have wonderful views of the water and rock formations.
6. Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
Carter G. Woodson earned his Ph.D. in History from Harvard University, making him the second black American (following W.E.B. Du Bois) to graduate with a Ph.D. from Harvard University. He’s known to have started the lasting celebration and remembrance of Black History during the month of February.
Growing up, Woodson realized that the public knew very little about the role of African Americans in American history, and schools were not including African American history in their curriculum. He worked tirelessly throughout his life to remedy this problem, becoming nationally recognized as “the Father of Black History.”
At the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, visitors can take a Ranger-led interpretive tour of this historic home and explore the place which served as the headquarters for the Association for the Study of African American Life.
7. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Before the railroads took passengers and freight across the nation, before the interstate network of highways made America easily accessible by car or truck, the canal was a lifeline for communities. In the 19th century, along the Potomac River, coal, lumber, and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market.
Today the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park is 184.5 miles of adventure. Originally, the C&O Canal was a lifeline for communities and businesses along the Potomac River as coal, lumber, grain and other agricultural products floated down the canal to market.
Visitors hike or bike the C&O Canal each year to enjoy the natural, cultural and recreational opportunities available.
8. Chesapeake Bay Watershed
The Chesapeake Bay Watershed spans more than 64,000 square miles, encompassing parts of six states—Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia—and the entire District of Columbia. More than 18 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
The Chesapeake Bay is home to numerous fauna that either migrate to the Bay at some point during the year or live there year-round. There are over 300 species of fish and numerous shellfish and crab species. It’s a great place to explore.
Beaches along the tidal rivers and the Chesapeake Bay are often safe for swimming, fishing and boating.
9. Civil War Defenses Of Washington
During our nation’s bloodiest conflict, one of President Lincoln’s greatest worries was that Confederate forces would take Washington, D.C. For the South, our nation’s capitol was the elusive prize that might have brought the southern states their independence.
To prevent this from happening, the Civil War Defenses of Washington D.C., 68 forts and 93 batteries armed with over 800 cannons encircled Washington, DC. Along forested hills surrounding the nation’s capital, visitors can see the remnants of a complex system of Civil War fortifications.
Nineteen of these original sites are now managed by the National Park Service. Among these are included:
- 122nd New York Infantry at Battleground National Cemetery
- 150th Ohio National Guard Infantry Monument
- 98th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Monument
- Battery (Fort) Ricketts which was constructed as part of the Eastern Branch Line Defenses (Anacostia River).
- Battery Kemble which held two 100-pounder Parrott rifles, placed in such a way as to sweep Chain Bridge along the Potomac River and the Virginia shoreline.
- Battleground National Cemetery established shortly after the Battle of Fort Stevens, in the summer of 1864. This battle marked the defeat of General Jubal A. Early’s Confederate campaign to launch an offensive action against the nation’s capital.
And that’s only a part of the total number of sites which still remain to be explored.
10. Constitution Gardens
Officially established in 1965, National Mall and Memorial Parks actually protects some of the older parkland in the National Park System. Areas within this premier park provide visitors with ample opportunities to commemorate presidential legacies; honor the courage and sacrifice of war veterans; and celebrate the United States commitment to freedom and equality. (Source: NPS)
Constitution Gardens is a park area in Washington, D.C., United States, located within the boundaries of the National Mall. The 50-acre park is bounded on the west by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, on the east by 17th St NW, on the north by Constitution Avenue, and on the south by the Reflecting Pool.
11. Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial tells the story of one of the most remarkable leaders in American history.
Among presidential historians in 1994, Eisenhower placed 8th, the same position he held in a C-SPAN poll of presidential historians in 2009. Among Presidents who held office in the last 75 years, he ranked behind only Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.
Eisenhower’s achievements, however, were not limited to his time in office. As the Supreme Allied Commander during World War Two, he led the successful coalition which defeated Hitler’s Third Reich.
At the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial, you can learn about his amazing story from the Prairie to the Presidency.
Things To Do At The Eisenhower Memorial
The Memorial is located at the base of Capitol Hill at 540 Independence Avenue SW. The four-acre urban park features a variety of pieces that symbolize Eisenhower’s inspirational feats during his time as the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe during World War II and as the 34th U.S. president.
Visitors can take a self-guided tour where they will learn about Eisenhower’s life, career and impact on the world.
12. Ford’s Theater
As a former history teacher, I am familiar with the events of April 14, 1865. It was in Ford’s Theater on that fateful evening that America’s 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, was assassinated.
Visitors to the theater can learn the events of that night and go from the back of Ford’s Theatre to inside the president’s box, onto the stage, and out to the back alley of the theatre in the steps of John Wilkes Booth.
You can step back in time and follow along as the story unfolds of one of the most infamous and tragic crimes in American history.
You can also examine the Museum Collection at Ford’s Theater which contains over 3,000 items and was augmented by those artifacts related to the assassination used as state’s evidence in the trial of the conspirators.
13. Fort Dupont Park
Fort Dupont Park is a 376 acre wooded park which was once home to an earthen fort built to protect Washington, DC, during the Civil War.
Today, visitors can see the fort’s earthworks and escape to the great outdoors. Activities include picnics, nature walks, biking, gardening, environmental education, music, and ranger-led programs. (Source: NPS)
14. Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
This is one of my personal favorite national parks in Washington D.C. As historian William E. Leuchtenburg, professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill concluded, Franklin D. Roosevelt may have done more during the twelve years he served as president to change American society and politics than any of his predecessors in the White House, save Abraham Lincoln.
Roosevelt led the nation through the twin crises of the Great Depression and World War Two. In the process, he transformed the role of the federal government.
The programs unleashed by FDR’s New Deal sought to insure that the economic, social, and political benefits of American capitalism were distributed more equally among America’s large and diverse populace.
FDR also transformed the American presidency. Under his leadership, the President’s duties grew to encompass not only those of the chief executive—as implementer of policy—but also chief legislator—as drafter of policy. He greatly increased both the powers and the responsibilities of the office.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is located along the western shore of the Tidal Basin, taking visitors on a walk through time as FDR’s four terms in office are chronicled through quotes carved in stone and fascinating bronze artwork.
15. Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
Frederick Douglass was born into slavery in 1818. He escaped as a young man and became a leading voice in the abolitionist movement. His tireless struggle, brilliant words, and inclusive vision of humanity helped to rally public opinion in the North against slavery.
Today his legacy is preserved here at Cedar Hill, where he lived his last 17 years of his life.
On September 5, 1962, the Frederick Douglass estate became a unit of the National Park Service. Today visitors can tour his home including his library. There’s also an online collection which includes portraits and other books from Frederick Douglass’s library.
There’s also a wonderful bookstore which is operated by America’s National Parks and sells unique educational products and books related to Frederick Douglass.
16. George Washington Memorial Parkway
The George Washington Memorial Parkway was designed for recreational driving. It connects sites that commemorate important episodes in American history and preserves habitat for local wildlife.
The parkway and its associated trails provide a scenic place to play and rest in the busy Washington, DC metropolitan area. (Source: NPS)
17. Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
From the Nacotchtank Indians to Colonial settlers to contemporary African American communities, the area around Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens has been home to people for more than 4,000 years.
There is birding, wildlife viewing, photography, water gardens, leisure walks, relaxation, painting, art, picnics, yoga and more. You will find historic ponds, filled with 500 year old lotus and vibrant tropical lilies.
Kenilworth is home to a reported 248 species of birds year round. In spring and summer catch the song birds as they whip through the air. In the Winter seasons find ducks and the winter migrators from up north. (Source: NPS)
18. Korean War Veterans Memorial
As a former history teacher and longtime history buff, I was privileged to teach a course on the Cold War. The Korean War was the first military conflict of the Cold War. It began on June 25, 1950 with invasion of South Korea by 75,000 members of the North Korean People’s Army.
The North Korean forces crossed, the 38th parallel, which was created in 1945 to separate the Soviet-supported Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (today’s North Korea) and the U.S.-supported Republic of Korea to the South.
An estimated 2-4 million people died in the conflict. Most of them were civilians. The war ended in 1953 when the two sides reached an armistice agreement. No peace treaty was ever signed, although in December 2021, North and South Korea, the United States and China agreed to declare a formal end to the war.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial is an outdoor memorial. The first part of the memorial is a triangular field with stainless steel statues and a reflective wall engraved with images of uniformed servicemen to represent all who served. The second half is a circular pool with a ring of benches and linden trees provided as a quiet, contemplative space to honor the sacrifices made during the war. (Source: NPS)
19. LBJ Memorial Grove On The Potomac
While America’s 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, is often associated with the Great Society, landmark Civil Rights legislation and the Vietnam War, his administration also passed an unprecedented amount of legislation designed to protect the nation’s land, air, water, wilderness, and quality of life.
Author Adrian Benepe believes the U.S. president with the strongest environmental track record is President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In his article, How the White House Went Green, Benepe writes, “Lyndon Johnson signed more than 300 conservation measures into law. These measures established the legal foundations for how we protect the nation’s land, water and air.”
Outdoor activities at the LBJ Memorial Grove On The Potomac include: bicycling, canoeing, hiking, kayaking, picnicking, wildlife viewing or just enjoying a tranquil afternoon surrounded by natural beauty.
20. Lincoln Memorial
In 2021, C-SPAN asked a group of distinguished presidential historians to rank our nation’s presidents from worst to best. At the top of their list, with a total score of 897 points, was Abraham Lincoln. George Washington and Franklin Roosevelt came in second and third respectively.
Why is Abraham Lincoln considered the greatest president of all time? Simply put, he saved the Union. In the process of saving the nation, Lincoln managed to define the creation of a more perfect Union in terms of liberty and economic equality that rallied the citizenry behind him.
Visiting The Lincoln Memorial
No trip to Washington D.C. is complete without a visit to the Lincoln Memorial. The interior is divided into three chambers (north, south, and central). The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address.
It took nearly 60 years to erect the Lincoln Memorial. In 1867, Congress passed the first bill to incorporate a commission that would oversee a memorial to America’s 16th President. Nothing happened, however, until the turn of the century. Construction began in 1914 on Lincoln’s birthday, February 12th, and slowed during World War I. It was finally completed in 1922.
The original plans for the Lincoln Memorial were more similar to an Egyptian pyramid. While the pyramid would have complemented the Washington Monument, an Egyptian-style obelisk, the original idea lost out to Henry Bacon, who ultimately designed the neoclassical monument.
21. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
Dr. King advanced the cause of Civil Rights through nonviolence. His marches and protests helped to build pressure to bring about landmark civil rights and voting rights acts.
Nobel Peace Prize
On October 14, 1964, Dr. King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his pioneering work in combating racial discrimination and injustice. He was one of two influential Georgians to receive this honor.
Things To Do At The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
As you explore the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, you will have views of quotes from throughout King’s lifetime and of a striking sculpture of the civil rights leader.
There is a bookstore located near the memorial, offering visitors a wide variety of products to commemorate your visit and learn more.
22. Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site | National Parks In Washington D.C.
Mary McLeod Bethune was born in 1875, number 15 of 17 children of former slaves, during the genesis of Jim Crow and the anti-Black violence that would ultimately plague the South for the duration of her life.
Her passion was education. In 1904, she founded the Daytona Educational and Industrial School for Negro Girls. In 1923, Bethune successfully negotiated the merger of her school in Daytona with the Cookman Institute in Jacksonville, Florida. Together, they created the coeducational four year Bethune-Cookman College.
Her growing work with the college, national organizations, and her involvement in political advocacy led to an invitation from President Herbert Hoover to attend a White House conference in 1930. Bethune capitalized on the invitation and left the conference a leading advocate and voice for African Americans in the United States.
In 1936, President Franklin Roosevelt tasked her to join the National Youth Administration and by 1939 she became the Director of Negro Affairs. As Director, Bethune was the highest paid African American in government at the time.
A Townhouse That Is Now A National Historic Site
Mary McLeod Bethune achieved her greatest recognition at the Washington, DC townhouse that is now this National Historic Site. The Council House was the first headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) and was Bethune’s last home in Washington, DC.
The Bethune Council House NHS interprets the life and legacy of Mrs. Bethune and the NCNW. There visitors can learn about her incredible legacy and the impact which her life’s example continues to have on the struggle for racial equality today.
23. National Capital Parks-East
National Capital Parks-East is 13 park sites, parkways and statuary covering more than 8,000 acres of historic, cultural, and recreational parklands from Capitol Hill to the nearby Maryland suburbs.
24. National Mall & Memorial Parks | National Parks In Washington D.C.
Officially established in 1965, National Mall and Memorial Parks actually protects some of the older parkland in the National Park System. Areas within this premier park provide visitors with ample opportunities to commemorate presidential legacies; honor the courage and sacrifice of war veterans; and celebrate the United States commitment to freedom and equality.
The National Mall and Memorial Parks is home to many of our country’s most iconic memorials telling the story of people and events that shaped us as a nation.
25. Pennsylvania Avenue
Most towns in America boast a Main Street. Pennsylvania Avenue is America’s Main Street. It’s a unit of National Mall and Memorial Parks. This unique site preserves locations related to the creation of the Federal City, Presidential Inaugurations, and historically significant events.
As a lifelong history buff, I like nothing better than to stroll down this historic boulevard. On one end is the nation’s legislative branch. On the other end, it’s executive branch. And in between many of the important agencies which do the peoples business on a daily basis.
26. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | National Parks In Washington D.C.
The Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (PHT) has something for everyone. History, nature, recreation, wildlife, and conservation are all themes that find a home within the Trail network.
There are extensive biking and hiking opportunities throughout the PHT network. It’s a great way to get your exercise and to experience the beauty, history and culture of the PHT corridor.
As an American Heritage River and with 300 miles recognized as a National Recreation Trail, the Potomac River provides excellent boating opportunities extending back to the dugouts used by American Indians and the shallop used by Captain John Smith and crew to present-day fishing boats and recreational kayaks. (Source: NPS)
27. President’s Park (White House)
Believe it or not, the President of the United States lives in a National Park. Our first president, George Washington, selected the site for the White House in 1791. The following year, the cornerstone was laid and a design submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban was chosen. After eight years of construction, President John Adams and his wife Abigail moved into the still-unfinished residence.
In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt began a major renovation of the White House, including the relocation of the President’s offices from the Second Floor of the Residence to the newly constructed temporary Executive Office Building (now known as the West Wing).
Today you can take a tour of our nation’s most famous and recognizable building. The National Park Service advises that if you are interested in attending a public tour of the White House be sure to secure your reservation well in advance of your arrival to Washington, D.C.
28. Rock Creek Park | National Parks In Washington D.C.
This 1,754 acre city park was officially authorized in 1890, making it the third national park to be designated by the federal government. It offers visitors the opportunity to escape the bustle of the city and find a peaceful refuge, recreation, fresh air, majestic trees, wild animals, and thousands of years of human history. (Source: NPS)
There are three visitor centers in Rock Creek Park. Points of interest include: the Nature Center & Planetarium, Peirce Mill where you can learn about industrial history of the Rock Creek Valley and about one of the families who lived here in the 1700s and 1800s and the Old Stonehouse (located in Georgetown) which provides visitors with information on early life in the American Colonies.
One enthusiast of the park was President Theodore Roosevelt. In his Autobiography he remarked, “When our children were little, we were for several winters in Washington, and each Sunday afternoon the whole family spent in Rock Creek Park, which was then very real country indeed.” As an advocate of the “Strenuous Life,” he was always a man in motion who involved the entire family.
29. Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
The 560-mile Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail takes you to battlefields and landmarks of the War of 1812. Points of particular interest include:
- Flag Raising at Fort McHenry
- Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum
- Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
- Fort Washington
- Concord Point Lighthouse
- North Point Beachhead War of 1812 Historic Sign
30. Theodore Roosevelt Island | National Parks In Washington D.C.
As University of Virginia Professor of Politics Sidney Milkis noted, “Theodore Roosevelt is widely regarded as the first modern President of the United States. The stature and influence that the office has today began to develop with TR.”
As a former history teacher, I must confess that Theodore Roosevelt was one of my favorites. He was a progressive leader who was not afraid to stand up to the powerful interests of his day when he believed it was in the best interests of the American people.
If you love the national parks, and I assume that you do or why else would you be reading this article, then you are likely aware of his impact on conservation. Some would argue that he was and remains the greatest conservation president of all time.
Nine Interesting Facts About Theodore Roosevelt
- As a child, Theodore Roosevelt witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession.
Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific writer who wrote about 35 books including his autobiography.
- He Was America’s First Cowboy President-Given his time as a rancher in North Dakota, he was the “real deal” when it came to embodying the west despite his eastern origins.
- Roosevelt was the “Father of the Modern American Navy.” He wrote the definitive naval history of the War of 1812, served as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and built the U.S. Navy into one of the largest in the world.
- He was the first president to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation efforts in the Russo-Japanese War.
- In response to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, Roosevelt pressured Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act in 1906.
- He was the inspiration for the Teddy Bear. His decision to spare a bear on a 1902 hunting trip inspired a candy store owner in New York to make a black bear doll which he named the “Teddy Bear.”
- He helped to save the game of football. It had become too violent so TR met with coaches and officials to help bring about the rule changes which saved the sport.
- Roosevelt was the first president to go after big corporations and created a Bureau of Corporations to protect the public from price-fixing.
- And let’s not forget conservation. Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of public land, which included the creation of the U.S. Forest Service and the unveiling of five new national parks.
Things To Do At Roosevelt Island
In the 1930s, landscape architects transformed Mason’s Island from neglected, overgrown farmland into Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to America’s 26th president. They conceived a “real forest” designed to mimic the natural forest that once covered the island.
Today you can hike miles of trails through wooded uplands and swampy bottomlands honor the legacy of a great outdoorsman and conservationist. And if Theodore Roosevelt were here then I suspect he would say, “Bully.”
31. Thomas Jefferson Memorial
Thomas Jefferson will always be celebrated for articulating the American national creed, the fundamental and universal principles of self-government that he set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
At key points in his life Jefferson had drawn up lists of his achievements, and on the verge of death he designed his own gravestone and epitaph: “Author of the Declaration of Independence [and] of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom & Father of the University of Virginia.”
Construction on the Jefferson Memorial commenced on November 17, 1938. One year later, on November 15, 1939, a ceremony was held in which President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the memorial.
Within the circular colonnade, a 19 foot tall statue of Thomas Jefferson stands holding the Declaration of Independence and peering out to the Tidal Basin.
32. Vietnam Veterans Memorial | National Parks In Washington D.C.
The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians.
For any American, visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., can be one of the most powerful and emotional ways to honor the more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives in service to our country. For Vietnam-era veterans, a visit can provide closure and reinforce the importance of their sacrifice.
Since the Wall officially opened in November 1982, people have left tributes there in honor of veterans such as dog tags, medals and other special remembrances. Some people leave more — the cremated remains of veterans. As the age of the remaining population of Vietnam veterans increases, so has the leaving of remains.
33. Washington Monument
It is the substantial consensus among historians that Washington’s tenure in office set the nation on a path that has endured now for over 200 years, longer than any other republic in history. He established precedents that would last for generations and did more to flesh out the skeleton of the presidential office than anyone could have expected or predicted.
As one scholar has said, he “invented tradition as he went along.” His actions, more than those of any other Founding Father, became a part of the “unwritten Constitution. Like Dwight Eisenhower, however, George Washington had a monument impact on history before being elected President as the man who led the colonies in their successful bid for independence.
The Washington Monument, designed by Robert Mills and eventually completed by Thomas Casey and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, honors and memorializes George Washington at the center of the nation’s capital.
The structure was completed in two phases of construction, one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876-1884). Built in the shape of an Egyptian obelisk, evoking the timelessness of ancient civilizations, the Washington Monument embodies the awe, respect, and gratitude the nation felt for its most essential Founding Father. When completed, the Washington Monument was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet, 5-1/8 inches. (Source: NPS)
Today visitors can take the elevator to the 500 foot observation deck and get a spectacular view of the nation’s capitol.
34. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail | National Parks In Washington D.C.
George Washington’s ultimate success against the British was made possible through an alliance with France. On July 11, 1780, 55-year-old General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau arrived with an army of 450 officers and 5,300 men in Narragansett Bay off Newport, Rhode Island.
This marked the beginning of a most successful military cooperation that culminated 15 months later in the victory at Yorktown and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his troops.
From New Hampshire to Virginia, the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail connects major metropolitan areas, state and national parks, historic and scenic trails, and countless other historic sites.
The rout is a 680-mile series of roads used in 1781 by the Continental Army under the command of George Washington and the forces under the command of Admiral Rochambeau during their 14-week march from Newport, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia.
35. World War One Memorial
Ironically labelled “The War To End All Wars,” the First World War destroyed empires, created numerous new nation-states, encouraged independence movements in Europe’s colonies, forced the United States to become a world power and led directly to Soviet communism and the rise of Hitler.
America’s President, Woodrow Wilson, proclaimed a policy of neutrality for most of this devastating conflict. Nevertheless, it would be the entry of the United States into the First World War which would prove to be was turning point of the war. Why? Because it made the eventual defeat of Germany possible. It had been foreseen in 1916 that if the United States went to war, the Allies’ military effort against Germany would be upheld by U.S. supplies and by enormous extensions of credit.
Located on historic Pennsylvania Ave adjacent to the Treasury Department, the World War I Memorial is open 24 hours a day. This impressive memorial features statues, water features and quotations honor the those who served in the Great War.
36. World War Two Memorial | National Parks In Washington D.C.
I taught World History for over a quarter of a century. I used to tell my students that World War II was the most significant and influential event of the twentieth century. The devastation is almost incalculable: total military and civilian deaths are estimated at 70 to 85 million, about 3% of the global population during that time. World War II also saw the dawn of the nuclear age.
The Story Behind The World War Two Memorial
Designed by Austrian-American architect Friedrich St. Florian, the World War Two Memorial was built on top of the existing Rainbow Pool at the western end of the Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial. This area had long been considered appropriate for a memorial since at least the 1901 McMillan Commission Plan for the city.
Three terraces lead down to the memorial from 17th Street NW. The terraces are flanked by white granite walls, along which are bas-relief bronze sculptures depicting typical scenes from the war. The central portion of the memorial is in the shape of a north-south running oval surrounding a pool. The pool has a large fountain on its north and its south ends, and the edge of the pool is defined by 100 small jets of water which constantly trouble the waters.
Fifty-six 17-foot-high pillars ring the outer plaza, one for each state that existed in 1945 as well as the several territories (Hawaii, Alaska, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, etc.). Bronze wreaths hang from each pillar. Two granite arches or pavilions anchor the north and south ends of the oval.
Atlantic Theater & Pacific Theater
The one on the north is dedicated to the Atlantic Theater, and the one on the south to the Pacific Theater. Inside each pavilion in the corners are massive bronze eagles, ribbons in the mouths. In their claws they clutch a huge, horizontal wreath. The monotony of the plaza is broken up by darker squares of grey granite.
A rectangular pool on the west end is interrupted by the Freedom Wall. This wall curves outward from the memorial. Its east side is lined by 4,048 gold stars. Each star represents 100 Americans who died in the war. The Freedom Wall is lit from below at night, and the pool glows gold with the reflection they cast.
Ground was broken in September 2001, and the memorial opened on April 29, 2004. (Source: World War Two Memorial, Atlantic Side & Washington Monument, Tim Evanson, Cleveland Heights)
Map Of National Parks In Washington D.C.
List Of National Park Sites In Washington D.C.
- African American Civil War Museum
- Anacostia Park
- Belmont Paul Women’s Equality National Monument
- Capitol Hill Parks
- Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historical Trail
- Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site
- Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
- Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Civil War Defenses Of Washington
- Constitution Gardens
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
- Ford’s Theater
- Fort Dupont Park
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
- Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
- George Washington Memorial Parkway
- Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- LBJ Memorial Grove On The Potomac
- Lincoln Memorial
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
- Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site
- National Capital Parks-East
- National Mall & Memorial Parks
- Pennsylvania Avenue
- Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail
- President’s Park (White House)
- Rock Creek Park
- Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail
- Theodore Roosevelt Island
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Washington Monument
- Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail
- World War I Memorial
- World War II Memorial