My favorite place to walk is Washington, D.C. We live about an hour away in a Maryland suburb. Once a month, usually on a Saturday morning, I drive into DC and spend half the day walking, exploring, and enjoying this magnificent city.
Every year more than 20-million tourists from the U.S. and other countries visit Washington. I love seeing these people experience this iconic city for the first time. I know for many this is the trip of a lifetime.
It makes me appreciate even more the blessing of living so close. I never take it for granted that I get to visit as often as I want for no more than the cost of two gallons of gas.
Washington, D.C. is one of the most walkable cities on the planet. It has wide open spaces and few hills. Most of D.C.’s popular tourist attractions are within a comfortable walking distance from each other.
To demonstrate just how easy it is to tour Washington, D.C. on foot I recently used one of my Saturday visits to hit all the big attractions. The pictures are combination of those taken that morning with some of my favorites from other visits.
(At the very bottom of this article is parking and travel information if you’d like to replicate this walking tour)
8:02am – 0 steps
I almost always start at Ebenezers Coffeehouse. I love this place. It’s a block from Union Station. The coffee and atmosphere are great. The story of how it started is even greater. For more than 25 years it was a neglected building that was often used as a crack house, but Mark Batterson had a dream. Where others saw a crumbling row house he saw a coffee shop. Mark is the pastor of National Community Church in DC. He was relentlessly prayerful. The church purchased the property in 2002. Ebenezers opened in 2006. It’s been voted Best Coffee Shop in DC and all the profits go to community outreach.
After enjoying some coffee in one of their wonderful copper mugs and a cinnamon bun I left and headed towards the most iconic structure in the city.
8:46am – 2325 steps
Did you know the dome is made of cast iron? It’s painted to look like the rest of the building which is made of stone.
On the west side of the U.S. Capitol you get this view of the National Mall. This is one of my favorite pictures ever. The sun had just risen and it was a cold morning just after Christmas with this low hanging light fog.
From here, I walk along the left side of The National Mall towards the original Smithsonian Building.
9:04am – 4,293 steps
Ever since I was a kid I’ve been coming to the Smithsonian Museums. It’s one of the great benefits of living less than an hour away. There are 19 museums, but it all started with this building. The Castle opened in 1855. When I was a kid, this was the building that had all the cool stuff…the airplanes and space capsules. They got moved, though, in 1976 when the Air and Space Museum opened a few blocks away.
9:26am – 6.643 steps
The Jefferson Memorial sits along the Tidal Basin. It’s gorgeous for a few weeks every spring when the Cherry Blossoms are open. Years ago, I brought my daughter to see the blossoms. We parked about a mile away. We walked past the White House just as the president and his family were walking to church. He waved. It’s a walk I’ll never forget.
9:46am – 8,291 steps
On the other side of the Tidal Basin is the Martin Luther King Memorial. This opened in 2011 and has quickly become one of the most visited monuments in DC. The inscription on the granite statue of Dr. King is a line from his “I Have a Dream” speech. “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.”
9:54am – 9,029 steps
Here’s where Dr. King delivered that speech. The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in 1922. You can climb the steps and go inside where there is a giant seated statue of President Lincoln.
10:01am – 9,508 steps
Not far from the Lincoln Memorial is the very moving Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This opened in 1982 and lists the names of military service members who died or are still listed as Missing in Action.
When I was nine years old my family moved to Linthicum, Maryland. A couple houses from ours was the Shay family. Their son, Donald, was in the Air Force. He went missing in the war a year later. As a boy I never really understood. I cut his mom’s grass for several years and she was always wearing an MIA-POW bracelet. Only now, as the father of three young men who have or currently are serving in the military can I even begin to grasp the sacrifice.
10:13am – 10,820 steps
In 2011 a rare earthquake hit Virginia. It was felt up and down the east coast. I’ll never forget standing in our kitchen as the house shook. Thankfully, there was minimal damage, but the Washington Monument was closed for several times for repairs from that quake.
10:28am – 12,359 steps
This building has been the home to every president since John Adams. Except it sort of hasn’t. When Harry Truman was in office, they were so concerned about the White House falling apart that they gutted the entire thing. All that remained were the exterior walls and the roof. It took four years to complete the rebuild. Only the presidents since Truman have roamed the new halls inside these walls.
11:34a – 18,908 steps
After the White House I headed back. I hit 20,000 steps in front of the EPA Headquarters on Constitution Avenue. My final stop was Union Station. It’s not only a vibrant train and subway terminal, it also has an amazing food court. I enjoyed a burger and fries from Shake Shack.
12:17p – 20,544 steps
Leaving DC. My walking tour took a little more than four hours (including coffee at Ebenezers and lunch at Union Station) and netted 20,544 steps.
FIND YOUR FUN
Whether you are exploring your favorite city, neighborhood, or wilderness trail walking is a great way to make exercise fun! Another way to add some fun to your walking is with a 30 Day Walking Challenge. It’s a great opportunity to add some juice to your fitness. Download this free guide and choose from three levels the one that’s right for you. You can also start with Level One and work your way to Level Three.
If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.
(By the way…if you use the links in this article to make a purchase this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)
Finally, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. Walking is sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions.
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HOW I GET INTO WASHINGTON, D.C.
I always drive into the city and park near Ebenezers Coffeehouse. If I get there early enough there is usually a couple free parking spots on the street. If not, there are two parking garages a block away.
You can also take the DC Metro. The Red Line has a stop at Union Station. You can follow my walking tour from there.