National Mall TIPS & HACKS

National Mall TIPS & HACKS


If you’re planning to visit the National Mall, stick around for six of my best travel hacks. HELLO! welcome to Trip Hacks DC. My name is Rob. I’m a tour guide here in the nation’s capital. If you’re coming to Washington DC and you’re looking for the best tips, tricks, and hacks for exploring the city, make sure to subscribe to this channel and hit the bell notification icon so that you don’t miss anything. And if you’re interested in having me personally show you around when you come head on over to my website TripHacksDC.com afterwards to see the tours that I offer. In this video I’m going to give you some tips and hacks that will hopefully help you out when you visit the National Mall. If you haven’t seen It yet, make sure to click over to my monuments and memorials video, afterwards, for some basic information about exploring the area. If you live in DC or been to the National Mall before, leave a comment on this video and let me know about your favorite National Mall hacks, otherwise, let’s get started… 1. Use the Circulator to cool down and recharge. I’ve talked about the Circulator in a few of my previous videos. It’s a great mode of transportation that will take you around to the museums, the monuments, and the memorials. On a summer day it’s also a chance to get out of the hot sun and into some air conditioning. When the National Mall route launched in 2015 Circulator received some new buses for their fleet, and they included USB ports to charge your devices. Look for the USB ports under the seats. On the vehicles that have them there are about 20 ports per bus. Unfortunately the older buses do not have these it’s really hard for the casual bus rider to tell from the outside which is a new bus and which isn’t. 2. Use the back doors at the museums. I mentioned this one in my Smithsonian tips video but it’s worth talking about again because it’s a good one. Most museums on the National Mall have two sets of doors. One that face the grassy park known as the National Mall and another that face either Constitution or Independence Avenues depending on which side it’s on. Museum security is really annoying, sometimes I feel like it’s even worse than airport security. Every Smithsonian museum that you go into will have a metal detector or a person who goes and searches through your bags. Charter buses only unload on the National Mall side of the museum, so when you’re behind a big group who’s just arrived it’s often quicker and easier to swing around to the other side of the museum. It’s not guaranteed that it’s going to be faster, but during peak eighth-grade tour season in the spring, this can save you a lot of headaches. 3. See a Hollywood movie. The Smithsonian has a lot of amazing assets but one that is often underrated is the Imax theater at the Air and Space Museum. The Air and Space Museum has a program right now called Sci-Fi Sundays, where they pick a Sci-Fi movie and play it on the big Imax every Sunday afternoon. But what really gets people excited is that when there’s a big Hollywood movie made for Imax it often shows at the Air and Space Museum. A few movies that I have personally seen on the Imax include Interstellar, Arrival, and Star Wars: A Force Awakens. So if you’re going to be in DC the next time a big star Wars movie gets released, make sure you have plans to see it at the Ar and Space Museum. 4. Use metro stations other than Smithsonian. Last year Metro made some changes to its station names including adding the words “National Mall” on to the Smithsonian station. I think this was a terrible decision and a big disservice to tourists because there are actually a lot of Metro stations closer to attractions on the National Mall than Smithsonian. In fact Smithsonian isn’t even the closest to all of the Smithsonians! For example the closest Metro station to the Lincoln Memorial Is Foggy Bottom. The closest station to the White House is McPherson Square. The closest station to the Archives is, well, Archives. The closest station to the Air and Space Museum is L’Enfant Plaza. The closest station to the American Indian Museum is Federal Center Southwest. And the closest station of the Capitol is Capitol South. In my how to ride Metro video I talk about Citymapper, which is an awesome app that will tell you exactly which Metro station you need to use depending on where you’re going. I highly recommend that you download it and use it so that you don’t have to know all of this information by memory 5. Walk to Arlington National Cemetery. Another big disservice that Metro provides the tourists is a map that is completely out of scale. In the case of Arlington National Cemetery It makes it look like it’s off in no man’s land and close to nothing. The reality is that it’s actually a fairly short walk from the Lincoln Memorial. Last week I was helping someone on the National Mall from the steps of Lincoln. She was trying to get to the Smithsonian station so that she could ride the blue line to Arlington National Cemetery. And the thing is… I totally get how a tourist could look at a metro map and think that that is the way to go. But the walk from the steps of Lincoln to the Smithsonian station is 1.2 miles, the walk from the steps of Lincoln to the gate of Arlington cemetery is only 1.0 miles. In fact when you swing around to the back of the Lincoln Memorial, which you should do because it’s a great view, you will clearly see the cemetery, Arlington Memorial Bridge, and Robert E Lee’s house up on the Hill. So if you want to go to Arlington and you’re already on the Mall don’t waste your time with the Metro, just walk. 6. See the monuments at night. I’ve talked about this in several of my previous videos but it’s worth mentioning again because it is one of the best trip hacks. The National Mall is busiest every day between about noon and 3:00 p.m. which is really unfortunate because that is the worst time of day to see the monuments and memorials, especially on the hottest days of summer. All locals know that the best trip hack is to see the monuments and memorials at night. Not only is it cooler and less crowded, but the monuments take out a whole different feel once it’s dark. For example people say that the soldiers at the Korean War Memorial Become like ghosts once the sun goes down. And you can’t come to Washington DC and not see the World War II Memorial after dark lit up in all of its glory. And that’s it! Thank you for watching this video, if you found it helpful you can subscribe to this channel by clicking on the Trip Hacks DC logo which is popping up right now at the bottom of the screen. And if you’re coming to Washington DC and interested in taking a private tour with me you can click on the Capitol Dome which is on the left side of my head right now that will take you over to my website TripHacksDC.com where you can see the tours that I offer. Enjoy your trip!

23 thoughts on “National Mall TIPS & HACKS

  1. Rob, Rob, Rob, YOU are a DC treasure and your hacks are spot on! We used all your hacks and I feel like I should send you a check for your help. We did the monuments at night, road the Metro like locals (did not eat on the Mall) and fit in almost all the museums. Thank you for your amazing videos and hacks. Two grandmas and two teenagers survived Aug. summer vacation in DC!!! When will you be doing other cities?

  2. Thank you Rob for the very helpful information. I watched many videos before my successful trip to DC this summer. I wanted to tell you the Eating on the Mall video need some updating but I think you already pulled the video for editing. The seafood market 15 mins to the south is currently under construction, and although I really enjoyed the food, the surroundings wasn't pleasant at all. Otherwise thanks for the great tips and hacks. Happy DCing~

  3. Totally agree about walking to Arlington Cemetery via the Memorial Bridge. I do it all the time. It also gives a breathtaking view of the city and waterfront. Really pretty.

  4. one of the tour operators used to have a shuttle service to Arlington…no longer available ?
    also I take it The Tourmobile is long gone? and the shuttle service to JFK arts center from Union Station?…

  5. Solid tips man…..thanks and I'll definitely subscribe and continue watching your videos! I'll be there this week with my wife and son (our first time) so definitely your info helped. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *