5 Quick Tips to Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

Few figures in American history have left such a lasting, transformational mark on our country as Martin Luther King Jr. He is a true hero and very deservingly, as of 2011, has a monument made of granite in the West Potomac Park in SW right next to the national mall. This weekend is reminder to meditate on the work he began and that we can continue to do to make sure our country lives up to its founding ideals. To that end, a visit to the the MLK memorial is a wonderful teaching opportunity to pass along Dr. King’s message and legacy to our kids. Our nation’s capital is swarming with activity all of the time and slowing down to pause and visit Dr. King is an amazing opportunity. Here are five quick tips for a visit to the memorial.

1. Drive, walk, or take a bus to the Memorial!

I know this sounds silly, but simply making a point to go is important. It is relatively easy to get to and driving right up to the memorial is doable. The memorial is at the corner of Independence Ave. and West Basin Drive (which has parking). The parking spots are constantly moving with people coming to and leaving the Memorial, so parking is actually pretty easy! Of course, public transportation is a great way to get to the Memorial too!

2. Read about Dr. King before visiting the Memorial

There are lots of teachable moments when visiting the Dr. King Memorial with children before visiting. It helps kids center our minds on the magnitude he’s had on the US (and world). Then, when you see the quote “out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope” it’ll make much more sense! We especially love the Letter from Birmingham as a means to teach our kids how Dr. King battled inequality in his own words. 


3. Enter the Memorial from the opening at the corner of Independence and West Basin Drive

You’ll walk though the mountain of despair to find Dr. King as the Stone of Hope. It’s incredible! On the back walls behind Dr. King, you’ll see several quotes (14 to be exact). They are inspiring and a great way to reflect on his important work and calling in his life.

4. Very family friendly MLK Memorial

Logistically speaking, this is a very stroller friendly memorial. The memorial is very easy to walk to and there are bathrooms located near the gift shop across West Basin Drive. The gift shop is worth a visit too. Be careful with the Tidal Basin right near the memorial. It is not completely blocked off with a fence.

5. Need to know info about the MLK Memorial

Lastly, more logistics, the MLK Memorial is an open air monument that is free to the public and is open year round 24/7. There are park rangers all over the national mall so you can ask questions if needed. The memorial can be seen from the road, but since Dr. King is looking in the direction of the Tidal Basin, driving by to view it is not possible.

We hope you enjoy these tips to visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Again, the biggest takeaway is to simply GO to the memorial. It’s a beautiful way to honor his life and legacy and a way to keep his memory and spirit alive. 

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Courtney was born and raised in Louisiana where she met her husband (married in 2005). Since then they have moved several times, but finally feel very settled in NW DC after moving back a little over two years ago. She has four energetic kids: Cormac (2010), Evangeline (2013), and Solomon (2016), and Antoinette (2019). She thinks motherhood is absolutely wonderful, but she is constantly challenged and stretched in ways she couldn't have imagined. She spends her days talking Star Wars, legos, playing dress-up, and chasing her toddler. We all know motherhood is challenging so she wanted to band together with other mothers to start this site to inspire, learn, and grow together. She loves morning coffee, chocolate, chatting with people since she's an extrovert, a clean house (which is rare these days). She dislikes when her kids don't listen the first time, she abhors littering, and doesn't enjoy shopping.