Washington DC Night Tour
I know some of you may be thinking - DC, at night, are you crazy? The National Mall and nearby monuments and landmarks are unbelievable tranquil at night - the hustle and bustle of daily tour busses, jammed traffic, and hordes of tourists are all absent at night. And the National Mall is very safe - with many uniformed security on foot and on bike patrolling. In fact you will see droves of people, young and old, with kids, strolling and enjoying the unique perspective of the monuments at night. Another thing I found intriguing was the high number of joggers running at night up and down the Mall - in fact some of them ran in packs as deep as over a dozen! Don't want to venture our alone? Try joining the Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight guided tour.
All of the monuments are lit up and many are open to the public (with night time security present). Stoic memorials offer a memorable scene - powerful, moving, and serene. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is dimly lit by recessed ground lighting, creating a glowing effect on the wall reflections. The Vietnam Memorial is by far the trickiest to photograph - making sure the wall reflection, decorative lights, and Washington Monument all are exposed properly is a challenge! The troops depicted walking on patrol at the Korean war Memorial are lit, casting long shadows on the textured sculptures as the Lincoln Memorial is shines brightly in the background.
The view from the George Washington Parkway, near Arlington National Cemetery across the river to the lit National Mall is captivating and an excellent place to take photos of the night-lit monuments.
The new WWII Memorial is decoratively lit at night. The high arches, towering pillars, and even the numerous fountains are all lit up. Enjoy this scene in the foreground while the brightly lit Washington Monument stands in the background.
Check out the Washington DC Monuments by Moonlight guided tour.
If you are in DC at night and are planning to leave by Metro, be aware of when the Metro trains stop each night. Also, only certain stations are open late at night and you may have to walk all the way back to L'Enfant Plaza to catch the subway train.
A great place to view the Washington DC monument lights and take photos is from the hill next to the Iwo Jima Memorial, in Arlington Virginia. From this hill, you have unrestricted views of the Memorial Bridge, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the Capitol. An added bonus is the Marine Corps Memorial (Iwo Jima) that is also spectacularly lit at night. View map.
Other scenes worth viewing at night include the beautifully lit Memorial Bridge, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The Iwo Jima Memorial (Arlington, VA), the Air Force Memorial (Arlington, VA), Embassy Row, and the US Supreme Court.
View more photos of the US Capitol. Planning your trip to DC around Christmas time? Check our our Washington DC Christmas guide with many night attractions for the DC area - and don't forget, the best viewing of the Christmas Tree and decorations is at night!
Washington DC at Night Tour
DC Monuments by Trolley at Night Tour
Washington DC Segway Night Tour
If you are planning to photograph the sights and monuments of at night, try to time your visit to arrive before sunset. Sunset in the nation's capital is incredible, with the monuments highlighted by the reds and oranges of the setting sun - any vantage point on the National Mall offers a good view (our favorite sunset shot is from the steps in front of the Capitol, facing west -- see the above photo.)
Don't forget to bring your camera and if you can, a tripod to keep your camera still and allow you to capture the best image. Turn off the automatic-flash in your camera and try to capture all of the beautiful natural ambient light.
Picturesque Nights Scenes of Washington, DC