May 18, 2016

Washington, D.C. Vacation: Monuments Bike Tour



Finally, the end of the D.C. vacation posts. I thought our favorite activity should get its own post since we enjoyed it so much.

I knew I wanted us to do a monuments at night tour. The monuments are stunning at any time of day, but at night...wow. They can be breathtaking; the soft light, the tall figures, the quietness. Something about seeing them at night makes the experience even more profound.

After researching different tour companies, I decided we'd do our own tour by renting out Capital Bikeshare bicycles. Capital Bikeshare works like this: for $8 you can rent a bicycle for 24 hours. You can have any single bike out for 30 min, after which you have to exchange it for another bike at a station or start paying a fee that gets charged to your card automatically. There are rental stations all over the city and tons near the monuments.

I crafted our route after viewing the station map and using Google Maps to determine how long it would take us to get from one monument to the next. I wanted to be able to drop our bikes off every 30 minutes so we didn't accrue the overage fees. By using the directions feature and selecting bikes as our mode of transportation, I was able to figure out how long it would take and which stations we'd need to stop at versus those we could skip.





Here's the route we took if anyone is interested in taking it. In the map above, the red circles indicate the bikeshare stations used in the route. (Note the additional orange station in the third bullet.) All memorials/monuments visited are indicated with a blue checkmark. The route is also laid out with the black line.


  • Get off the Metro at the Smithsonian stop and rent bikes at the station on 12th & Independence (right behind the Metro stop).
  • Bike around the tidal basin to Jefferson Memorial and leave the bikes at the station near the concession stand while touring.
  • Check out new bikes and go across the bridge to the Roosevelt Memorial. Pushed your bikes through this if there are crowds and then head to the MLK Memorial. (*Alternate Option: If you think you'll visit the MLK Memorial for more than 10 minutes, stop at the bikeshare station that is noted on the map in orange after you are done at the Roosevelt Memorial.)
  • Keep your bikes while looking at MLK, then head to the Lincoln Memorial and return the bikes to the station. 
  • Tour the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (as well as any other memorials of interest nearby) on foot and cross Constitution Ave. to see the Albert Einstein Memorial. 
  • Pick up new bikes at 21st and Constitution, then head to the WWII Memorial. Keep your bike while you tour the site.
  • Bike toward, then around the Washington Monument before dropping the bikes off at your starting point on 12th & Independence.

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