Recent Comments
Contact Us

Have a question about an upcoming trip? Your questions let me know what to write about.

Send them to

Have a suggestion? Someplace you enjoy and want to share? Know of an event coming up our visitors might like?

Send them to

And, as always, feel free to leave comments about specific posts in the comments section at the end, whether you liked it or think I missed the mark.


« Getting Around Town - Mt. Vernon | Main | Boozing it up on H Street. »

Metro to the Mall

I'm going to have to ask my local readers to bear with me here, but there's some important info I haven't shared yet with our out of town guests.

I think, by now, most visitors have gotten the word about not driving to the National Mall. It's possible, I guess, and people do it, but you're more likely to see Obama than find parking anywhere close to the Museums. And, to indulge in a tangent for a second, if you are that lovely couple from New Jersey who decided to take do it yourself parallel parking lessons in front of the Smithsonian, than let me tell you that the bus honking at you was mine. I got to ask you, what made you think the parking fairy was going to help you on the 16th try? There's no shame in not knowing how to parallel park, there is in blocking traffic for half of downtown DC.

Whew, now that that's out of my system, let's focus on some actual useful advice. Everyone always says "take Metro to the Smithsonians" and folks naturally assume that the Smithsonian stop is the one to get off of at. However, the "Smithsonian" is a gigantic institution that sprawls from the base of the Capitol to the shadow of the Washington Monument, well over a mile in distance. Due to the proximity of several Metro stations, the Smithsonian station may not be your best stop.

Much depends on what line you are taking to the Mall. Consult your friendly Metro Map, first. The Blue, Orange, Yellow, and Green lines all cross under the Mall. If you are taking the Yellow line into the city, for example, it does little good to get off L'Enfant Plaza, wait ten minutes for a transfer to the Blue/Orange Line, get off at Smithsonian if you are, in fact, going to the Air and Space Museum. So, let's break it down by museum.

View Metro to the Mall in a larger map

American History: Get on the Blue or Orange Line and get off at Federal Triangle or Smithsonian stop. The Museum is slightly closer to the Smithsonian stop, but I prefer the Federal Triangle stop, especially if you have to push a stroller through the gravel of the Mall walkways. If you get off at Federal Triangle, when you take the escalator to the top, turn around, walk to 12th St, and take a right.

Natural History: If you are coming from the Blue/Orange line, then the same as above. If you have a stroller or wheelchair, I'd recommend using the Federal Triangle stop. The Constitution Ave entrance that you come to is handicap accessible, in a way that the Mall entrance very much is not. If you are riding the Yellow or Green Lines, you might want to save a transfer and get off at Navy Memorial/Archives. Upon exiting, walk straight to 9th street, cross Pennsylvania Ave, and walk south one block. The Natural History Museum will be across the street.

Smithsonian Castle, African Art Museum, Sackler Gallery, and the Freer Gallery: These are all readily accessible from the Smithsonian station. Use the Mall exit.

National Gallery of Art: The closest stop is the Archives/Navy Memorial. Do a 180 upon exiting, take a right on 7th, cross Pennsylvania and Constitution, and look up. That's the West Building. Any guesses as to which direction the East Building is from here? If you happen to be on the Blue/Orange line and don't feel like transferring, you can also get off at the L'Enfant Plaza stop and walk across the Mall. Use the 7th Street/Maryland Avenue exit. It's a little farther than Navy/Archives but you can save the hassle of transferring.

National Air and Space Museum: For all the lines (except Red) use the L'Enfant Plaza station. There are multiple exits to choose, so make sure you go to the 7th Street/Maryland Avenue exit. It is on the upper level above the Green/Yellow line tracks. Once above ground, walk up Maryland and take a left on 6th Street. Air and Space is one block directly ahead of you. For all six of you that might wish to visit the Hirshorn Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, use this exit as well, just walk up 7th Street instead of Maryland.

National Museum of the American Indian: Federal Center SW is the closest, a few blocks down 3rd St, but is only on the Blue/Orange Line. If you are on the Green/Yellow, walk a few blocks more down Maryland Ave, away from the Capitol.

References (3)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    NFL is definitely 1 of the most significant sports in America. It has a main following.
  • Response
    Metro to the Mall - DC Like a Local - DC Like a Local
  • Response
    Response: TedXsdSu
    I think other website proprietors should take this internet site as an example , very clean and great user pleasant pattern .

Reader Comments (1)

This was absolutely the best metro advise I have found all night. THANK YOU VERY MUCH! I am not familar with the metro and all other sites and info I have found on it was like reading a language that I did not understand. Your breakdown of the mall and which line to ride is perfect for out of towners with no experience what so ever with metro.Again I THANK YOU!

April 11, 2010 | Unregistered Commentercasey fazzalore

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.