Things to do in DC — Jefferson Memorial Tour

Jefferson Memorial — One of the Most Popular Things to Do in DC

A Jefferson Memorial Tour is one of the most popular things to do in DC.  You get a spectacular view of the Tidal Basin and the Washington Monument from the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.  In the interior of the Jefferson Memorial, there is a statue of Thomas Jefferson as well as many of his most famous quotations engraved into the marble walls.   There are many things to do in DC, but a visit to the Jefferson Memorial should not be missed.  A great way to visit the Jefferson Memorial is to include it in a DC tour by Nonpartisan Pedicab.   The Jefferson Memorial is especially spectacular at twilight.

Jefferson Memorial Tour -- things to do in DC


Opening Hours at Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is always open, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  The Memorial is always free to the visiting public.

Handicapped Services at the Jefferson Memorial

The Jefferson Memorial is easily accessible to people with disabilities. An elevato leads up to the inner chamber, where the statue of Jefferson stands.   Handicapped parking is available 24 hours a day on Ohio Drive, the street just outside of the Jefferson Memorial.  You will find a National Park Service information kiosk on the first floor, where they can provide a free wheelchair to handicapped or elderly visitors.  This service is available during working hours and is always free of charge.

Getting to the Jefferson Memorial

Smithsonian Metro (on the Orange/Blue/Silver lines) is the nearest Metro station.  It is approximately a mile away from Jefferson Memorial.  A Capitol Bikeshare stand is also available here.  A convenient way to get here is to include the Jefferson Memorial in a pedicab tour of the monuments.  Nonpartisan Pedicab gives a highly recommended tour of the DC monuments and the National Mall.

Parking at the Jefferson Memorial

Parking on the National Mall is always difficult.  However, there are three open air, public parking areas on Ohio Drive near the Potomac River not too far from the Jefferson Memorial.  Except during the full bloom of the Cherry Blossom Festival, there is almost always available space at one of these parking areas.

Parking on the National Mall is no longer free of charge.  Three hour parking is available at $2 per hour.  Parking meters only accept credit cards.


Restroom Facilities at the Jefferson Memorial

The restroom is underneath the memorial near the National Park Service information kiosk and the gift shop.

Food Kiosks at the Jefferson Memorial

On the street outside the Jefferson Memorial, there is a food kiosk where you can get hot dogs, cold drinks, pretzels and other snacks.  It stays open until 9:00 PM in the summer months.

Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin during the Cherry Blossom Festival

The Jefferson Memorial overlooks the Tidal Basin, which is lined with cherry trees.  During late March and/or early April, these trees all come into bloom at once.  The entire Tidal Basin area becomes one huge sea of pink and white.  The petals start to fall within a few days of full bloom.  Hundreds of thousands of visitors are attracted to the Cherry Blossom Festival each year.  During this time of year, visiting the Jefferson Memorial is one of the most popular things to do in DC.


Jefferson Memorial — History and Facts

The dome-shaped Jefferson Memorial is an iconic American structure. While its shape is an obvious nod to the Pantheon of Rome, it also mirrors the University of Virginia rotunda, a structure designed by Jefferson himself. The memorial is located in West Potomac Park on the shore of the Potomac River Tidal Basin, at the southern end of the National Mall. The interior of the memorial contains a 19-foot statue of Thomas Jefferson, and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, which he authored, can be found on the southwest interior wall. The memorial is noted for its circular marble steps, portico, a circular colonnade of Ionic order columns and a shallow dome. The National Park Service estimates that more than two million people visit the Jefferson Memorial each year.
The memorial honors third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s Founding Fathers as well as the drafter of the Declaration of Independence and adviser to the Constitution. Its architect was John Russell Pope, who modeled the memorial after Jefferson’s own architectural preferences. Pope passed away in 1937 during construction, at which point the project was inherited by Daniel P. Higgins and Otto R. Eggers. The location along the Tidal Basin was selected in 1937, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt laid the cornerstone of the memorial in 1939. Rudolph Evans sculpted the statue of Jefferson, and the memorial received its dedication in 1943. It has hosted numerous ceremonies, including the world-famous National Cherry Blossom Festival.
More information can be found at the National Park Service website.