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National Mall and Memorial Parks – so many stamps!

National Mall and Memorial Parks – so many stamps!

Last week I had the chance to visit DC, 11 years after I first lived in the area, and 9 after I left. It was the week leading up to Memorial Day, so the city was bustling with school field trips, tourists, and of course, workers in suits. The stage was set for the annual PBS Memorial Day concert on the Capitol Lawn (filmed Sunday evening, dress rehearsal Saturday). The summer heat suddenly appeared after weeks of cold rain, with daytime temperatures in the mid 80’s, but thankfully – no humidity. Summer gets pretty muggy, which is why the spring and fall seasons are so popular. Winter can be beautiful, especially the peace and calm right after a snow storm, but it’s really only accessible if you are staying downtown. Roads and the metro are a nightmare for a while after snow.

Korean War Memorial
The Korean War Memorial
Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall
Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall







Walking along the National Mall was one of my favorite activities on a day off.  It is such a peaceful green space in the midst of a busy city, with so many monuments to visit. Back in 2005/2006, the Washington Monument was closed for renovations. It reopened in 2007 just before I moved away. It’s a wonderful, extremely popular, view of the National Mall and monuments. Timed entry tickets are FREE the day of so get to the visitor center by 8:30am daily to try to get one, or you can pay a fee to reserve online in advance (limited supply here).

Washington Monument western view
The view from the west windows of the Washington Monument

Many of the National Mall and Memorial Parks passport stamps can be found at the Washington Monument bookstore, which is not attached to the actual monument but on the east side. Other bigger memorials (Jefferson, Lincoln) that have gift shops will also have a passport cancellation on site. For me, I was thankful for the trove of stamps at the Washington Monument bookstore. I had visited all of these sites in DC well before I bought my first passport book, and due to my limited time this visit, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to each monument for the stamps.

Getting to the National Mall is easy by metro, if you are willing to walk a little bit. Take the red line to Farragut North or Metro Center and walk in from the White House, take the Orange/Silver/Blue Line to Smithsonian, Federal Triangle or even Foggy Bottom, or the Green/Yellow line to L’Enfant Plaza.

Passport to your National Parks!

Passport to your National Parks!


National Park Passport Book

The Passport to your National Parks book is a great way to keep track of your National Park visits. The traditional book has 104 pages, is priced at $9.95 and can be purchased in most visitor centers (unless they are out of stock) or online.  A special edition is available in 2016, honoring the National Park Service centennial.

The book breaks down the parks into regions, with a map and list of sites at the beginning of each region, and brief park descriptions. It lists National Parks, National Historic Sites, National Monuments and National Recreation Areas.  There are spaces on each page for the annual park stickers, and also the cancellation stamps, which you can get at most visitor centers. The stamps are dated, so it’s a lot of fun to look back and see exactly when you lasted visited a park.

Region maps and park descriptions
Space for cancellation stamps and park stickers






If you plan on visiting many parks, your pages will fill up rather quick with cancellation stamps, and it may be worth considering the Explorer Edition.

Passport to your National Parks,                 Explorer Edition and Traditional Book

It is binder style with removable pages, so you don’t have to carry the entire thing with you on short trips.  It also has larger maps, better descriptions and more space for cancellation stamps!  Get your Passport to your National Parks today!

Larger regional maps and more park details
Removeable pages and more space for cancellation stamps