How to Get to the National Mall

From our DC Tourism Guide, with budget advice, travel guides, and information about local Washington DC attractions.

No, not that kind of Mall. The National Mall is a five-square mile park with museums and memorials. As popular as it is, it’s not always the easiest to get to. The best way depends on how you are travelling around town. Find our recommendations for driving, Metro, bus, and of course, on foot.

Other Ways to Travel

Parking On the National Mall

There is limited parking on the National Mall. Spots are available on:

  • Madison Drive (in front of American History, Natural History, and National Gallery of Art)
  • Jefferson Drive (in front of Air & Space, Hirshorn, and Smithsonian Castle). These are free, un-timed parking spots so they go quickly!

On-Street Parking around the National Mall is restricted during morning and evening rush hours. It is also limited to 2 hours – total. So don’t expect that moving your car a few inches forward will thwart the meter maids.

Hains Point/East Potomac Park: There are 320 free spots on Hains Point, near the Jefferson Memorial. This is a great option if you don’t mind walking as it is more than a mile to the Smithsonians.

Parking Garages: The best option if you plan to drive into the city is to park in one of the many garages in the area. The fees are worth avoiding getting towed and ticketed!

Garages Near the Mall:

Colonial Parking Garages

  • 1201 Pennsylvania Ave NW
  • 1101 Pennsylvania Ave NW
  • 601 Pennsylvania Ave NW
  • 122 C St NW
  • 409 3rd St SW
  • 400-430 10th S SW

Parking Management, Inc.

  • 1220 E Street, NW
  • 500 12th Street, NW
  • 415 11th Street, NW
  • 875 D Street, NW

*TIP: You can also park at Union Station Parking Garage for easy access to Circulator routes in various directions around the city!*

Metro to the National Mall:

Public transportation is our recommended means of travel around the city. You don’t have to worry about parking, DC’s unique traffic laws, and you can look at the sites as you go!

The nearest Metro Stations to the various sites on the National Mall are:

  • Federal Center SW: Capitol Building, National Botanical Gardens
  • L’Enfant Plaza: Air & Space Museum, Hirshorn Museum
  • Archives: National Gallery of Art, Newseum, Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Smithsonian: Smithsonian Castle, Natural History Museum, American History Museum, Washington Monument
  • Federal Triangle: American History Museum, Washington Monument (and the start of our National Mall Tour)
  • McPhearson Square: White House, WWII Memorial
  • Foggy Bottom: Lincoln Memorial

Here’s our advice for which Metro card to buy

Buses on the National Mall:

There are not that many convenient WMATA buses that service the National
NMS-Circulator-RouteMall, so we recommend the newest Circulator Route.

The Circulator is $1 per person, no matter where or when you hop on. This new route will take you around the National Mall and Tidal Basin and back to Union Station.

TIP: Take our self guided Bus tour using Circulator.


Summer (April 1 – September 30)
7am – 8pm (weekdays), 9am – 8pm (weekends)
Winter (October 1 – March 31)
7am – 7pm (weekdays), 9am – 7pm (weekends)

Other Ways to Travel:

  • There are taxi stands around the National Mall, though they are very easy to hail around any of the memorials/museums
  • Uber is very popular in DC. UberX offers cheaper routes, but be warned that not all the drivers on UberX are familiar with the city. Be prepared with the address of where you’re going so the GPS can get you there!
  • Pedicabs can be found all along the National Mall. Most of the drivers work for tips – so keep that in mind based on how far you’re going and how many people you have!
  • Biking is a popular way to travel to the mall. If you have your own bikes, there are bike racks at many of the memorials. There are also many Capitol Bikeshares in the area.
  • On Foot! That is our preferred way to travel. Starting at the Capitol Building, it is one mile to the Washington Monument and another to Lincoln – those two miles are filled with memorials and museums and great sites to see.