State National Parks of Washington, DC
Where will your adventure lead you?
Carter G. Woodson Memorial Park
Known as “the Father of Black History,” Carter G. Woodson was a scholar, author, educator and journalist who dedicated his life to documenting and promoting stories of the African-American experience. He earned his doctorate from Harvard University and went on to serve as dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. In 1926, he founded “Negro History Week,” a celebration of African-American achievement that eventually went on to become Black History Month. The historic site preserves the residence where Woodson spent the last 28 years of his life, as well as the headquarters for the organization he founded to promote scholarly work in African-American history, which continues today as the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.
These 50 acres in downtown Washington, D.C., were once underneath the Potomac River. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredged part of the river, and during World War I, the government used the land for temporary buildings for the U.S. Navy and Munitions Department. The buildings were demolished in 1971, and in 1986, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation dedicating the gardens to the legacy of the Constitution, in honor of the document's bicentennial. Today, this willow-framed duck pond and its winding pathways provide beauty and serenity for visitors to the National Mall.
Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth assassinated 16th President Abraham Lincoln in this building just five days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered in April 1865, signaling the end of the Civil War. Still an active theater, this site includes the compact performance space where the president and First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln watched the production of Our American Cousin from a box above the proscenium arch. Beneath the theater, a basement museum now houses artifacts from the event, including the president’s greatcoat, the assassin’s diary and the actual .44-caliber Derringer from the fatal attack. Across the street, visitors can also explore the home of the German tailor William A. Petersen where Lincoln was carried after the shooting and was tended to until his death hours later.
Frederick Douglass Memorial
Home of the famous orator, abolitionist and statesman, this park is a compelling window into the past. This historic site preserves 8.5 acres known as Cedar Hill and includes the main house, gardens, and an extensive collection of personal effects belonging to Douglass and his family. Douglass moved to Cedar Hill in 1877 and lived there for 18 years. During that time, he served as U.S. Minister to Haiti and as U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia as he continued to write about and speak out for human rights and equality until his death on February 20, 1895.
Korean War Veterans Memorial
In the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial, 19 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines slog in sodden rain gear. Slightly larger than life, these stainless steel statues represent the men who fought, were wounded and died in the cause of freedom during the Korean War. They walk beside a granite wall etched with the words “Freedom is not free” and the faces of 2,400 men and women. Officers and enlisted men. Doctors and nurses. Chaplains, medics, mechanics, supply officers. Digitally reproduced from photographs, these are the faces of actual Korean War veterans. This solemn memorial offers a chance to honor the 1.5 million servicemen and women who served in this chapter of the ongoing fight for freedom.
This park presents a thorough portrait of the strong-willed Texan who served in both houses of Congress before leading the country as president. This park encompasses the Hill Country home site that has been in the Johnson family since the 1860s as well as the ranch where the president is buried. Learn about President Johnson’s controversial role in escalating the Vietnam War and his celebrated “Great Society” legislation which expanded civil rights protections, national health care, and environmental laws. See his childhood bed, his clothes, his collection of rare automobiles, the one-room school he attended, and a wealth of other historic items.
This famous monument in Washington, D.C., honors the Great Emancipator, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, with a 19-foot marble statue under a 99-foot-tall structure modeled after the Greek Parthenon. Completed in 1922, this monument is one of the most-visited national park sites in the country, and includes murals, inscriptions from two of Lincoln’s speeches, and fluted Doric columns representing the 36 states in the union at the time of his death.
Mary Mcleod Bethune Council House
Born to former slaves a decade after the end of the Civil War, educator and political leader Mary McLeod Bethune grew up in South Carolina as the 15th of 17 children. Despite a childhood of poverty and hard work, she walked for miles each day to attend the one-room schoolhouse established for African-American children in her community. She became the only child in her family to receive an education and began working as a teacher early in her career, eventually founding a school for African-American girls in Daytona, Florida, and serving as president of the National Association of Colored Women. In 1935, she became an adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt on minority affairs and founded her own civil rights organization, the National Council of Negro Women. It is the former headquarters of her organization that is now preserved at the historic site, along with details of her extraordinary life and achievements.
National Capital Parks - East
Includes a rich diversity of sites in Washington, D.C. including the 1,200-acre Anacostia Park along the banks of the Anacostia River, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and the Fort Circle Parks that protect Fort Dupont and other fortifications to defend Washington during the Civil War.
National Mall and Memorial Parks
A walk through the heart of the nation’s capital brings visitors face to face with larger-than-life presidents and visionaries, open park lands, and elaborate memorials honoring our nation’s veterans and military history. This green space in downtown Washington, D.C., includes more than 1,000 acres of land showcasing such iconic sites as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Martin Luther King, Jr., National Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Approximately 25 million people visit each year to experience this unique collection of structures and spaces honoring the nation, its democracy and its citizenry.
Rock Creek Park
An oasis of green in busy Washington, DC, Rock Creek Park is an expansive natural oasis in the middle of the city preserving the Rock Creek Valley. The park has many public facilities, including an outdoor concert and theater venue, a tennis stadium, a planetarium, a nature center, paved bicycle paths, and foot and horse trails along the creek and through the woodland. The park has an equestrian center that offers horseback riding lessons and guided trail rides. There is also a boat center that rents bikes, kayaks, canoes, sailboats and rowing shells. The park also provides a haven for birds and other urban wildlife.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., honors one of the founders of our country, a legendary scholar and revolutionary leader. Jefferson was the nation's third president, its second vice president and its first secretary of state. One of the principal authors of the Declaration of Independence and the founder of the University of Virginia, Jefferson is renowned for his eloquent writing and inventive spirit. This neoclassical memorial features a 19-foot bronze statue of Jefferson and excerpts from the Declaration of Independence.
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
This profound memorial features two walls of polished black granite etched with the names of the U.S. soldiers who died in service during the Vietnam War or who were unaccounted for when the wall was constructed in 1982. There are more than 58,000 names on the wall in all. The wall draws a powerful emotional response from visitors, who often leave notes and gifts by the names of loved ones. Rangers collect these offerings daily and place in them an archive. In addition to offering a place to grieve, the wall reminds all visitors of the tragic consequences of the Vietnam War for many Americans and their families.
This 555-foot obelisk honoring America's first president towers above the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and is one of the city's most distinctive landmarks. Visitors can get a wonderful 360-degree view from the observation area at the top. The interior of the monument contains nearly 200 memorial stones. These stones — some simple, some intricately carved works of art — were donated by states, cities, civic organizations and other nations in memory of President Washington. Twice each day, when staffing allows, the Park Service gives "walk-down tours," providing a detailed and fascinating history of the construction of the monument and stories about individual memorial stones for anyone willing to make the 900-step journey down by foot.
World War II Memorial
This memorial on the National Mall stands across the reflecting pool from the Lincoln Memorial, honoring all who served under the U.S. flag at home and abroad during World War II and inviting visitors to ponder the scope of the war that cost 405,399 American lives. Around an oval pool studded with fountains rise 56 granite columns adorned with bronze wreaths and the names of every state, district and territory that sent its sons and daughters to war. Two towers celebrate the Allied victories in the Atlantic and Pacific. Each of the 4,048 gold stars on the memorial wall represents 100 lives lost in the fight for freedom.