Monuments at Night
Washington, DC’s monuments and memorials are overwhelmed during the day with tourists visiting the the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the Washington Monument, and the WWII fountain. Once the sun sets, the crowds thin out, the soft illuminating lights are turned on, and the National Mall is almost peaceful. With the National Park keeping these monuments and memorials open 24 hours and staffed by a ranger until 11:30pm, it is definitely worth spending an evening visiting some of the most famous landmarks in the nation’s capital. The fall is an especially good time to tour the monuments at night with the sun setting early.
While the U.S. Capitol building requires advance planning to visit, the Capitol grounds are open to the public 24 hours every day except for special events such as inauguration or 4th of July. The Capitol Dome’s lights are on from dusk until dawn though renovations are expected to start soon. During the holiday season, the Capitol Christmas Tree is decorated and lit at night.
The most popular memorial at night, the Lincoln Memorial is operated by the National Park Service and open 24 hours every day except Christmas or special events. From the steps, visitors can see the illuminated WWII Memorial fountain, Washington Monument, and Capitol dome. The Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool provides a stunning reflection of these lights at night.
Access to the White House grounds are limited to tours, but visitors can get an up close look from the gates along Pennsylvania Avenue across the north lawn. At night, the lights brighten both the White House and the fountain. The fountain is known to change colors for certain holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.
From the Washington Monument’s base, visitors can view the U.S. Capitol to the east and the Lincoln Memorial and WWII Fountain to the west.
The Jefferson Memorial is also operated by the National Park Service and follows the same guidelines as the the Lincoln Memorial. Located on the far side of the tidal basin, the Jefferson Memorial is far quieter at night, but provides similar reflections against the water in the basin.