With the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial opening to the public just last summer, this will be the first MLK Day you’ll be able to visit the memorial. If Monday draws even a fraction of the thousands of people who attended the memorial’s dedication in August, plan ahead and prepare for crowds.
Here’s what you’ll need to know when planning your visit:
Off the Mall, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is located in a remote and beautiful 4-acre site in West Potomac Park along the Tidal Basin. It’s close to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and on a direct line between the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials (which makes for a fantastic view and plenty of photo ops). The official address of the memorial, 1964 Independence Ave, SW, commemorates the year that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became law.
How to Get There
Like all the memorials on the National Mall, parking is extremely limited so your best bet is to take public transportation and prepare to walk a bit. The closest Metro stations are Smithsonian and Foggy Bottom. For a longer but more scenic walk, get off at Arlington National Cemetery and walk over the Arlington Memorial Bridge, crossing the Potomac with the Lincoln Memorial ahead of you. Metro has helpful walking directions from all these spots, which you can find here.
Also, Capital Bikeshare is a great, budget-friendly option; it’s $5 for a 24-hour membership. There isn’t a station at the MLK Memorial yet, so head to the 19th Street and Constitution Avenue location.
And if you insist on driving, know that the closest parking is along Ohio Drive. But beware: it gets crowded on weekends and holidays since it’s the same parking lot that visitors use to reach the other memorials.
What Not to Miss
At the MLK Memorial entrance you’ll find a National Park Service ranger station, which includes a gift shop, interactive displays and more.
Best View of MLK Memorial
For the best view, walk to the south side of the memorial grounds. There you’ll see MLK looking out onto the Tidal Basin. Occasionally, you’ll see planes to and from Reagan National Airport in the background.
For More African-American History Sites
Spend the rest of the day on U Street, a hub of African-American history and culture, checking out the African American Civil War Memorial and Lincoln Theatre, and finish with the famous chili dog at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
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Where to Eat & Where to Stay Near the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Photos
Exclusive Video: Visit the MLK Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial: The Capital’s Most Unique Monument
photo by Flickr user brownpau