25 Washington DC Monuments

This post is an overview with links to further resources of our list of the 25 top monuments and memorials you must see in Washington DC.


TOP 25 MONUMENTS TO SEE IN DC

DC is full of memorials and monuments to presidents, wars, servicemen, and individuals.

We’ve comprised a list of the top 25 you should see on your visit to Washington, DC, with sections below if you have time for more.

Unless otherwise noted, every memorial listed on this page is open 24 hours a day. 


MEMORIALS TO U.S. PRESIDENTS

There are roughly a dozen memorials and monuments to U.S. presidents. Some of them are part of larger sights, such as JFK’s gravesite inside of Arlington Cemetery.

 

Presidential Memorials Washington DC

Click the map for a larger map.

Most of the presidential monuments and memorials listed below are visited or covered on our National Mall walking tours


Washington Monument

The Washington Monument is one of the most iconic monuments in Washington, DC. This 555′ (170 m) obelisk honors George Washington, the commanding general for the Colonies during the American Revolution and our very first president.

 

 

It is usually open to the public and free to go into and boasts the best view of Washington, DC. We have a post that explains how to get tickets and how to plan your visit.

However, it is currently under construction, but the elevators should be repaired and the monument open to the public Fall 2019.


Lincoln Memorial

Arguably the most well-known of all DC memorials, the Lincoln Memorial honors Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president and probably the country’s most beloved.

It is located on the western end of the National Mall.

 

 

This memorial, made of white marble and designed in part to resemble a Greek Doric temple, is instantly recognizable to most visitors to the city.

You could learn all about his last days on our Lincoln Assassination Tour.


Jefferson Memorial

Thomas Jefferson was our 3rd president and was perhaps best known for writing the American Declaration of Independence, which today is on display at the National Archives.

 

Thomas Jefferson Memorial

 

The Jefferson Memorial sits on the Tidal Basin, on the southwestern side of the National Mall.

Modeled after the Parthenon in Rome as well as Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, it is also instantly recognizable.  


Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial

The longest memorial is for our 32nd and longest-serving president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Located adjacent to the Jefferson Memorial, this memorial is often overlooked.

 

FDR and Fala Statue

 

The FDR Memorial has 5 rooms that stretch along the western edge of the Tidal Basin, that includes one room for each of his presidential terms as well as a prologue room.

Each room tells the story of each term through sculpture, inscriptions, and waterfalls.

This memorial is a standout because it is one of the few major memorials in Washington, DC to be designed by a landscape architect.

There is also a small monument to FDR on the grounds of the National Archives.


John F. Kennedy Memorial Flame

This simple but powerful memorial to President Kennedy is also his memorial gravesite. He is buried alongside his wife and 2 children.

 

John F Kennedy Grave Arlington Cemetery

 

It is located in the heart of Arlington National Cemetery and is a stop on both our tour guide led walk as well as our GPS-led audio tour.

It is only accessible when the cemetery is open, so read our guide by clicking the link just above.

In addition to this memorial gravesite, there is also the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, which is a national memorial to President Kennedy.


Ulysses S. Grant

A quick stop from the United States Capitol is the General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, the largest equestrian monument in the United States.

The memorial honors both Grant as president but also, and even more so, as a general in the American Civil War.

 

Ulysses S Grant Memorial DC

 

The memorial includes an equestrian statue of Grant with depictions of Union cavalry and artillery on both his flanks.

It is located just below the Capitol Building in Union Square and is a great spot for photos after your Capitol Hill Tour.


Theodore Roosevelt Island National Memorial

This somewhat remote memorial is located on a small island in the Potomac River just across from the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and south of the Georgetown Waterfront.

 

 

The memorial consists of 4 massive granite tablets placed on a plaza in the middle of a naturally landscaped park.

The memorial’s design was influenced by Roosevelt’s dedication to the preservation of America’s natural environment and the island consists of 3 ecosystems.


Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial

To come: The Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial is under construction and is tentatively scheduled to open May 2020. 

 

 


Other Presidential Memorials in DC

There are a few more monument and memorials of U.S. presidents that deserve a visit. 

NOTE: None of these is officially a national presidential memorial as are the memorials mentioned above.


Woodrow Wilson House

This national historic landmark is located in a pleasant neighborhood just off of Embassy Row is where President Wilson lived after office until the day he died.

 

Woodrow Wilson House

 

The house is a museum to Wilson the man and open for tours daily with the exception of Mondays. The house is located near the end of our Embassy Row Tours.

Wilson is also the only former president to be buried in Washington, DC. You can pay your respects at the Washington National Cathedral.


Garfield Monument

A monument to James A. Garfield on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol grounds. Garfield was the 2nd U.S. President to be assassinated in office.


Andrew Jackson

The Andrew Jackson Statue is located in the middle of Lafayette Square Park, which itself is located on the North Front of the White House.

This equestrian statue honors Jackson as a great general in the War of 1812 rather than as a U.S. president. It’s identical to the one found in Jackson Square in New Orleans.

It is from this statue that we begin our Lincoln Assassination Tour


Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove

The LBJ Grove on the Potomac is the place the president often escaped to when he needed a moment of peace. This is why his wife chose the spot on the river to dedicate to her late husband, a place to be enjoyed by visitors today.


James Buchanan

The 15th president of the United Staes James Buchanan has a statue in Meridian Hill Park.

 


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WAR AND MILITARY SERVICE MEMORIALS 

Below we have listed the Top 5 war and service memorials to see in Washington, DC.

We also have a secondary list of other war and service memorials to see should you have time.

 

US War Memorials in Washington DC

Click the map for a larger map.

Most of the presidential monuments and memorials listed below are visited or covered on our National Mall walking tours


WW2 Memorial

The WW2 Memorial is a triumphant display of victory in the heart of the National Mall. This 7 acre (3 hectares) memorial is made of granite and is replete with symbols of victory and peace.

 

 

The memorial is located on the National Mall directly between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial.

Check out our guide to the World War 2 Memorial.


Vietnam Memorial

Controversial and the recipient of mixed reviews at the time of its dedication in 1982, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial has since become one of the country’s most visited and well-respected memorials. 

 

Washington DC Vietnam Memorial Day

 

The memorial features the names of more than 58,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives in service to their country. bit also has additional statues added after the original dedication.

It is located at the west end of the National Mall adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial and nearby to the Korean War Veterans Memorial. 


Korean War Veterans Memorial

Located in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, this often overlooked memorial is to the surprise of many visitors their favorite memorial in all of Washington, DC.

 

Memorial Wall Korean War Memorial

 

It is dedicated to the millions of Americans who served in uniform during the Korean War and is rich in symbolism, which we explain in fuller detail.

Like all memorials in DC, it is open 24 hours each day and is certainly a memorial worth visiting both during the day and at night.


Iwo Jima Memorial

The moment that six figures raised a flag on top of Mount Suribachi on the Island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific was captured by AP journalist Jason Rosenthal and became the symbol of victory in the Pacific during WW2.

 

US Marine Corp Memorial Iwo Jima

 

This image was recreated and cast in bronze, the figures 32 feet (9 m) tall and honoring the Marines that have served our nation since its beginning in 1776.

This memorial is located a short walk outside of Arlington National Cemetery and is a great thing to after your visit. 


Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is our nation’s most sacred burial ground for our fallen heroes. It is an active cemetery with roughly 2 dozen funerals taking place on most days of the week.

 

 

It is also home to many memorials that visitors can see on a guided tour, including the final resting spot of two of our presidents, President Howard Taft, and President John F Kennedy


Other War and Service Memorials:

There are a number of other war and service memorials located all around Washington, DC:

 


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MEMORIALS TO INDIVIDUAL (NON-PRESIDENTS)

There are a number of memorials around Washington, DC to commemorate great individuals who helped shape our nation.

 

DC Memorials to Non Presidents

Click the map for a larger map.

Below is a list of our Top 5 Individual Memorials to see, and then a few more if you have the time.


MLK Memorial

The newest memorial on the National Mall honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr for his work in the Civil Rights movement.

 

MLK Memorial

 

The highlights of the memorial are the Mountain of Despair and the Stone of Hope, both of which he speaks of in his famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

His image is incomplete to symbolize his incomplete life, as he was assassinated in 1968.

Spreading from the Mountain of Despair is a wall (length) with quotes, encasing the memorial with our famous cherry blossom trees, making it a beautiful sight especially in the spring.

Be sure to read our guide to visiting the MLK Memorial.


George Mason

If you’re making your way around the Tidal Basin, be sure to check out the often overlooked George Mason Memorial located just behind the Thomas Jefferson Memorial.

 

George Mason Memorial DC

 

George Mason was an important Founding Father whose Virginia Declaration of Rights served as a blueprint for Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence (located in the National Archives).

This often bypassed memorial is set in the beautiful “Pansy Garden” and is lovely especially in the spring and is a pleasant surprise any time of year. 


Albert Einstein

The 12 ft (3.5 m) tall statue of Albert Einstein sits in front of the National Academy of Sciences on Constitution Avenue, just across the street from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

 

Albert Einstein Memorial DC

 

At the base of the statue is a star map embedded with over 2,700 metal studs representing the accurate position of the planets, sun, moon, stars, and other celestial objects on the day of the dedication, April 22, 1979.

You are encouraged to climb old Albert.


John J. Pershing

John J. Pershing held the rank of General of the Armies, a rank he shares only with George Washington, thanks to his leadership during World War I.

His statue now sits in front of the Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, a short walk from the White House, and overlooks the site that will soon become the site of the National World War I Memorial.


William Tecumseh Sherman

William Tecumseh Sherman was a Union Army general during the American Civil War from 1861-1865. His equestrian statue sits in Sherman Plaza, a part of Presidents Park near the White House.

Close by in front of the Treasury you can also get a glimpse of the statue of Hamilton


Other Individual Memorials:

There are a number of other memorials to individuals around Washington, DC:

  • John Paul Jones, known as the Father of the United States Navy. 
  • John Ericsson, Swedish-born engineer-inventor best known for transforming naval warfare during the Civil War. 
  • Robert A. Taft, former United States Senator  
  • John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the United States from 1801-1835
  • Robert F Kennedy (Memorial Stadium), former United States Attorney General

 


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EMBASSY ROW STATUES

While DC has a number of memorials to individuals sprinkled throughout the city, we also have a number of statues on Embassy Row. Below are a few worth visiting, some of which are featured on our Embassy Row walking tour

 


Winston Churchill

In front of the British embassy is a statue of Winston Churchill put there in 1966. If you look closely, he is standing on the edge of the property. One foot is on British soil (the embassy) and the other on American.

 

Winston Churchill Statue DC

 

His mother was American, so the idea was to represent his dual-nationality and his efforts to promote the relationship between the two countries. He has a cigar in one hand and the other raised with V for Victory.


Nelson Mandela 

In front of the South African embassy is a statue of Nelson Mandela dedicated in 2013.

Mandela stands with his fist raised, reminiscent of when he was released from prison after 27 years on Feb. 11, 1990.


Mahatma Gandhi 

The Indian Embassy gave this statue of Mahatma Gandhi in 2000. It depicts Gandhi on his famous 1930 Salt March to the sea. Made of red granite from India, both the aesthetic of the stone and his clothing remind us of his dedication to a simple, grounded life. His peaceful non-violent resistance would be the heart of Indian independence from the British Empire.


St. Jerome 

In front of the Croatian Embassy is the statue of St. Jerome, born in the 300s in what is today Croatia. He’s most known for translating the Bible into Latin, the Vulgate version still used heavily in Roman Catholic churches. He was known for criticism of his intellectual rivals and thus is the patron saint of people with difficult personalities.


Robert Emmet

This statue of Robert Emmet is one of four, the others are in San Francisco, Dublin, and Emmetsburg, Iowa. The DC version was dedicated in 1917. Robert Emmet was an Irish nationalist who tried to lead a rebellion against British rule in 1803. It failed and he was hanged for crimes against the Crown. While you wouldn’t expect a statue to a failed patriot, his Speech from the Dock that he gave before his hanging inspired other Irish nationalists.


More Statues 

Below are some other statues worth visiting on Embassy Row:

 


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GENERAL/NATIONAL MEMORIALS

Below we have a list of other general and national memorials we believe should be visited on your trip to DC. 


Pentagon Memorial

Outside of the Pentagon, our nation’s Department of Defense, is the Pentagon Memorial, a subtle tribute to those who lost their lives on the morning of 9/11 when American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon.  184 benches mark each life that was lost, a permanent tribute to each victim. Each bench is sorted by age lines of stainless steel strips by the year the victim was born. It is a lovely, peaceful place to visit and reflect. 


United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was built in 1980 for the documentation, study, and interpretation of Holocaust history. Visitors from all over the world come to remember and learn about the Holocaust. Admission is free but lines can get long, and during busy season (March-July) we recommend reserving tickets online to guarantee entrance.


Law Enforcement Officers Memorial

The Law Enforcement Officers Memorial at Judiciary square honors over 21,000 U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty throughout American history. Visitors can etch a name from the wall, taking a piece of that wall home with them. Each year during Police Week new names are added for all those who fell the year before. 


Signers Memorial

Near the Vietnam Memorial is a hidden little place called Constitution Gardens, home to the Signers Memorial honoring the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. To get to it, you must walk across a footbridge to Signers Island. It is a quiet, relaxing place to explore while you are on the National Mall.  


Emancipation Memorial

This memorial was funded nearly entirely by former slaves and was their way of paying homage to President Abraham Lincoln for his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. The memorial was dedicated in 1876, not long after the 16th president was assassinated. It is located in Lincoln Park near Eastern Market, a great place to go on a food tour while you’re in DC. 


Other Memorials

Here are a few other memorials to see in Washington, DC:


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About the author

Born and raised just across the Hudson River in NJ, Stephen became a licensed NYC tour guide in 2010 and has led and organized thousands of tours since then.

He has also researched and written numerous blog posts providing his insider tips for traveling to NYC.