Things to Do in DC — Visit the FDR Memorial

Things to Do in DC

One of the Best Things to Do in DC is  to Visit the FDR Memorial

Unlike some of the other memorials in DC, the FDR Memorial is not soaring and monumental.  Instead, it is quiet and contemplative.  The FDR Memorial, is on the shore of the Tidal Basin.  It’s granite walls contain some of FDR’s most famous quotes.  The statues within the Memorial evoke the times in which FDR was president.  There is flowing water throughout the Memorial.   Overall, this makes a visit to the FDR Memorial one of the best things to do in DC.  You can include a visit to the FDR Memorial in a tour of the monuments by Nonpartisan Pedicab.  This allows you to visit all the monuments and get out at each one.

FDR Memorial — Opening Hours and Fees

The FDR Memorial is always free to the visiting public even during busy times of the year such as July 4th and the Cherry Blossom Festival.   The FDR Memorial is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Getting to the FDR Memorial

Unfortunately, there is no nearby Metro.  The nearest Metro station is over a mile away.  The Smithsonian station is at 12th and Independence SW.  You can get the Orange/Blue/Silver lines at this station.  There is a Capitol Bikeshare stand not far away at the intersection of Ohio Drive and East Basin Drive.  One of the best things to do in DC is to get around by pedicab.  A pedicab tour will allow you to stop at all the monuments in about two hours.

Handicapped Facilities at the FDR Memorial

There are no stairs to climb at the FDR Memorial.  Just outside of the entrance to the Memorial is a National Park Service information kiosk.  Inside, they will be happy to lend you a wheelchair for your visit.  Handicapped parking is outside on East Basin Drive.

Food and Restroom Availability

There are restroom facilities and a water fountain to the left of the entrance to the FDR Memorial.  There is also a National Park Service information kiosk here.  There is no food kiosk anywhere nearby.  The nearest food kiosks are at the Jefferson Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial.

Parking at the FDR Memorial

Parking is always a problem on the National Mall.  Handicapped parking is available right out front.  There is metered street parking next to the Potomac River on Ohio Drive.  Otherwise, the nearest parking is in 3 metered public lots near to the Jefferson Memorial.   Except during the height of the Cherry Blossom Festival, it is usually easy to park in one of these lots.

On-street 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.


Nearby Attractions

The MLK Memorial is not far away.  The FDR also sits on the shore of the Tidal Basin.  The Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the WWII Memorial are slightly further afield, but are within walking distance.   One of the best things to do in DC is to take a pedicab tour of the monuments, which would allow you to stop at all these monuments and much more.

History and Facts about the FDR Memorial

In August 1955, ten years after FDR’s death, Congress established a commission to create a memorial to Roosevelt, the 32nd U.S. president. Four years later, a location for the memorial was found. The memorial was to be located half way between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, along the Tidal Basin.

Although several design competitions were held over the years, it wasn’t until 1978 that a design was chosen. The commission chose Lawrence Halprin’s memorial design, a 7.5 acre memorial that represented both President Roosevelt and his era. With only a few changes, Halprin’s design was built.

Unlike the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials which are compact, covered and focused on a single statue of each president, the FDR memorial is vast, uncovered, and focused on numerous statues, quotes, and waterfalls.

Halprin’s design honors FDR by telling the story of the president and the country in a chronological order. Since Roosevelt was elected to four terms of office, Halprin created four “rooms” to represent the twelve years of Roosevelt’s presidency.

The rooms, however, are not easily defined and the memorial is more accurately described as a long, meandering path, bordered by walls made of red South Dakota granite.

Since FDR brought the United States through the Great Depression and World War II, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial, dedicated on May 2, 1997, now stands as a reminder of some of America’s tougher times.

More information can be found at the National Park Service website.