Washington, D.C. audio tour: Reflections by the Mall: Monuments and their Memories

Reflections by the Mall: Monuments and their Memories

Walking Tour

90 mins

About the Tour

If you’re interested in exploring DC memorials quite thoroughly, this tour along the Mall’s Reflecting Pool is for you. We’ll be walking along some of the city’s newest ground that honors the country’s greatest sacrifices.

We start our tour where the city founders started the city. Our path begins at the vortex of the meridians used to map the new capital city. From what is now the base of the George Washington Monument, we wind our way through the memorials that surround the National Mall's Reflecting Pool.

Highlights include:

• The stones honoring the country’s Greatest Generation
• A garden commemorating the nation's rebellious founders
• The stark simplicity of the black wall representing the Vietnam era
• A dedication to the president who maintained this country's union, in spite of civil war
• A walk through the fields of Korea alongside the soldiers of every war

• Bonus tracks that expand on theme of ‘Controversies and Compromises’ that each and every memorial has experienced

It’s easy to assume that structures built of granite & marble are unchanging. But that’s hardly the truth about the sites along this walk. Memorials have an initial intent, but new threads to their meaning are woven into their walls all the time.

Our discussions along this walk are a deep dive into the meaning built into these stones. We’ll read the symbolism that the designers intended to be found, as well as add some of our own. We’ll highlight unique stories of the women and men who participated in the events being commemorated. And most importantly, we’ll participate in a continuing conversation that spans generations.

Because America’s national narrative is not set in stone, even if these sacred sites are.

For those interested in viewing the sites along the tour pathway, I’ve created a supplemental video that can be found on my YouTube channel:


Tour Producer


Amy McMahon

Born of the snowy tundras of central New York and transplanted to the ancient deserts of the Middle East, Amy is an avid adventuress, dirt-digging archeologist, children’s book author & tour director. She has wandered the globe as an international educator for over 20 years. Passionate about following historical paths, both literally and figuratively, Amy seeks out unique opportunities to bring the lives of people from the past into our own day-to-day experiences.

How VoiceMap Works

Focus on your surroundings, not the screen

VoiceMap’s audio tour app uses GPS to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. Just install it, then download your tour and go to the starting point to begin your walk, drive, cycle, train trip or even boat ride.

Follow a route with turn-by-turn-directions

Tours follow a route from a fixed starting point. This is how we provide turn-by-turn directions. It also helps publishers tell a story greater than the sum of its parts. But you can use Resume to pick up a tour from the closest location whenever you like.

Listen as many times as you like

You can listen to your tours as often as you like using both the VoiceMap app and the VoiceMap website. Your access to tours doesn’t expire.

Take virtual tours anywhere

Just select Virtual mode in the VoiceMap app to listen to tours at home – or anywhere else. You’ll see the option after you download the tour. You can also listen to the whole tour here on the website.

Buy for less on voicemap.me and sync

Once you’ve purchased a tour, it’s added to your VoiceMap library. If you sign into the app using the same method you used on the website, you’ll have access to your full library of tours in both places.

Use VoiceMap offline

The VoiceMap app works entirely offline if there’s no data connection, so you don’t have to pay roaming fees. Just download the tour over WiFi before you get started.

Major Landmarks

  • George Washington Monument

  • WW2 Memorial

  • Constitution Gardens

  • Vietnam Memorial

  • Lincoln Memorial

  • Korean Memorial

Directions to Starting Point

This tour begins at the Jefferson Pier, which is within the grassy area between the base of the GW Monument and the WW2 Memorial. Car parking in this section of the city is not realistic. Approaching the tour starting point by foot is the most practical. The closest Metro stop is the Smithsonian, although the Federal Triangle stop is also within range. If approaching the city by car, most parking garages are located in the eastern sectors of the city. The closest to this tour's starting point are located in the Federal Triangle area (north of the Mall) or the neighborhood of the new Spy Museum (south of the Mall). Both areas are just off of 12th St.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

There's a sweet memorial to Einstein located very near to the Vietnam grounds, as well as a small rotunda dedicated to DC war veterans in the woods between WW2 and Korea. The tour's path is within an area of the city where there are no traditional business, so coffee shops and restaurants are not to be found along the way. There is a small food kiosk within the Daniel French traffic circle at the end of the tour. If continuing on to the Tidal Basin memorials, there are walkways leading in that direction. It would be approximately 10 more minutes of walking to arrive to that area.

Best time of day

This walk is unique in that the beauties of the locations are amazing both during the day and at night. All of the sites visited are open-air parks that are accessible 24 hours a day. Park Rangers are only present and available during the days, but the lighting of the memorials in the evenings is quite atmospheric.


Be aware of scheduled events and national holidays that may effect the size of crowds within the city, as well as at specific memorials. Road closings are frequent, although typically only impacting motor vehicles. Pedestrian walkways are almost always open. The tour's path is along consistently flat walkways. All memorials are handicap accessible. On occasion the elevator at the Lincoln Memorial is out of service.


Great tour

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 4 months ago

This was a wonderful tour. I’m a Washington native and have been to the memorials countless times- bringing my own middle school students too - and I learned so much. Thank you!

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , over 1 year ago

This is so wonderful to hear! Learning new things about familiar places is always exciting. Thanks so much for ‘walking’ with me!

Posted by Amy , over 1 year ago

what a delightful treat during Covid! I am a local Washingtonian and decided to take a much-needed walk during the weekend. I learned so much from this tour and Amy’s storytelling was intriguing. The GPS and app worked perfectly. I haven’t done VoiceMap tours in a while due to the pandemic but this tour reminded me of why I fell in love with VoiceMap all over again.

Posted by Yao , about 2 years ago

I was supposed to touring in Washington DC right now but unable to because of the pandemic. What a treat to find Amy’s virtual audio tour. It made the history, sites and sounds come alive for me. She has a gift for making history interesting through her story-telling. I felt like I was there taking the tour in person. I can’t wait to go see everything that this virtual tour described.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 2 years ago

What a great virtual tour of the National Mall! Amy did such a great job explaining everything, while at the same time keeping it fresh and interesting. A highly recommended audio tour. Can't wait to get down there in person.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 2 years ago

Amy is such an incredible storyteller! US history comes alive in this walk through our nation’s capital. This is a must-listen-to audio tour for anyone visiting Washington DC.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 2 years ago

My grandmother was born in DC, my dad grew up in Bethesda and I lived for awhile in Virginia. I love American history and thought I knew DC well. Wow! I learned so much and I love the personal insights and additional information. This was a great tour.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , about 2 years ago

It’s so exciting to hear that locals are taking the tour as well. I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

Posted by Amy , about 2 years ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Reflections by the Mall: Monuments and their Memories