Things to Do in DC — Visit the MLK Memorial

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

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a tribute to America’s foremost civil rights leader.  This makes a visit to the MLK Memorial one of the most moving impressive things to do in DC.  A stop at the MLK Memorial is included in a tour of the monuments by Nonpartisan Pedicab.

Pedicab Tour of DC


MLK Memorial — Opening Hours and Fees

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is always free to the public at any time of year.  The Memorial is open 24 hours a day every day of the year.

Getting to the MLK Memorial

There is no Metro station immediately nearby.  Smithsonian Metro is the nearest, but it is about a mile away.  You can get the Orange/Blue/Silver lines at this station.   There is a Capital Bikeshare stand a 10 minute walk away on Ohio Drive.   Many people say that the best thing to do in DC is to visit all the memorials by taking a monument tour with Nonpartisan Pedicab.

Handicapped Facilities at the MLK Memorial Memorial

There are no stairs to climb to visit the MLK Memorial.  The National Park Service kiosk across East Basin Drive offers the free use of a wheelchair to visit the Memorial.  There is also nearby handicapped parking.

Food and Restroom Availability at the MLK Memorial

There is a clean restroom behind the National Park Service kiosk.  You can find water fountains here, too.  There are no food kiosks at the MLK Memorial.  The nearest one is at the Lincoln Memorial.

Parking at the MLK Memorial

Parking is always difficult on the National Mall.  The nearest on street parking for vehicles without handicapped stickers is on Ohio Drive near the Potomac River.  Metered parking is available, but limited.  Your best bet might be to park in a downtown parking garage and take a pedicab tour of the monuments with Nonpartisan Pedicab.  We can pick you up at any downtown location for free.  You can see all the monuments in about two hours and get dropped off back at your car or anywhere else you like.  This tour is really one of the best things to do in DC.

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.


MLK Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival

One of the best things to do in DC is to visit the MLK Memorial during the Cherry Blossom Festival.  The MLK Memorial sits on the shore of the Tidal Basin.  From the Memorial, you have a splendid view of the Tidal Basin festooned in a sea of pink and white blossoms.

Nearby Attractions

The FDR Memorial is quite close.   Slightly further afield is the WWII Memorial in one direction and the Lincoln Memorial in the other direction.  The DC War Memorial can be seen on the way to the WWII Memorial.  During the Cherry Blossom Festival, the Japanese Lantern is a popular place to visit as well, and it is not far away.

History and Facts about the MLK Memorial

Opened 48 years after Dr. King’s stirring “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC welcomes another great leader to the National Mall. A visit to the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is a must-see on any trip to the nation’s capital. The memorial is situated on a four-acre site along the Tidal Basin, adjacent to the FDR Memorial and sharing a direct line of sight between the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials. It is open daily, with park rangers on site from 8 a.m. to midnight.

The centerpiece of the memorial is a 30-foot statue of Dr. King. His likeness is carved into the Stone of Hope, which emerges powerfully from two large boulders. The two boulders, which started as one, represent the Mountain of Despair. The boulders are split in half to give way to the Stone of Hope, which appears to have been thrust forward toward the horizon in a great monolithic struggle. The Stone of Hope and the Mountain of Despair together represent the soul-stirring words from Dr. King’s history-making “I Have a Dream” speech. On the visible side of the Stone of Hope, the text from King’s famed 1963 speech is cut sharply into the rock: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Every visitor enters through the Mountain of Despair and tours the memorial as if moving through the struggle that Dr. King faced during his life. Visitors end in the open freedom of the plaza. The solitary Stone of Hope stands proudly in the plaza, where the civil rights leader gazes over the Tidal Basin toward the horizon, forever encouraging all citizens to strive for justice and equality.

Get more information at the National Park Service website.