The National Mall Tour

Discover American History in Context
From US$350 privately
Book a Tour
Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • Washington Monument
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • Lincoln Memorial
Photos & Highlights
  • Learn about how America's capital city memorializes critical moments and characters throughout history
  • A local historian leads your Private Tour of the National Mall
Tour Description
Stretching from the banks of the Potomac River to the cast-iron dome of the United States Capitol building, the National Mall is America's front yard, embedded with symbolic meaning and remarkable monuments. During this 3-hour tour of Washington DC, we'll join a local historian for an in-depth exploration must-see sights. Ever wonder why the city’s street grid is divided into quadrants? Or how did urban planners make decisions about the design and placement of monuments like Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial? Take a stroll with a historian to get a grip on why this landscape looks the way it does—and find out how Thomas Jefferson’s eighteenth-century panorama continues to evolve and adapt in the twenty-first century.

Designing the National Mall - L’Enfant’s Inspiration

In 1791, George Washington appointed Pierre Charles L’Enfant to plan the new “Federal City” on a site spanning portions of Virginia and Maryland situated next to the Potomac River. A French engineer who served under Washington and Lafayette during the American Revolution, L’Enfant took inspiration from European capitals like Rome and Paris, working with Thomas Jefferson to design the grid that distinguishes the District today. Even the earliest maps of Washington included important landmarks like the “President’s House” (now the White House), “Congress House” (now the United States Capitol Building), a grand avenue connecting the two (Pennsylvania Avenue), and the east-west axis and green space now known as the National Mall.

Vietnam Memorial and More

In addition to visiting well-known sites like the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, our National Mall Tour in DC will step off the beaten path to less-visited places of remembrance like the FDR, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Vietnam War Memorials. We’ll also discuss the ways that the Mall is used today by Americans for festivals, demonstrations, and recreation. Our conversation will shift as we traverse the 300-acre space, considering the landscape as a backdrop for countless events and as a symbol of American struggles and ideologies.

Want to visit America’s Front Yard with kids? Consider our National Mall Tour for Kids, designed especially for younger learners.


Does this tour go inside of the Lincoln Memorial?
No, it doesn't usually go inside of the Lincoln Memorial because the site is so crowded. Instead, we recommend visiting at nighttime since there's often no one there.

Is this tour suitable for clients with mobility issues? 
This is a very walking-intensive tour, but covers almost-entirely flat terrain and all the major monuments and memorials of the National Mall are wheelchair accessible.

Does this tour include the museums of the National Mall?
No, this tour doesn’t include the museums, however, for clients interested in art, we do have a focused tour of the National Gallery of Art.

Where You'll Start
48 Reviews (4.85)

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Don was nice to work with. He had lots of great information to share about the monuments and is clearly a teacher because he engaged my kids (ages 12 & 14) by asking questions that involved their knowledge and sleuthing skills along the way.
Knowledgeable and fun!
Wonderful guide