5 sights in Washington D.C. that are better at night

Many visitors to Washington, D.C. think when the sun goes down the monuments close. In fact, many of the monuments are open 24/7. And it just so happens a lot of architects designed them with night views in mind. So when the day turns dark and the hordes of tourists leave the National Mall, go visit the sights at night and have them practically all to yourself. Below are 5 of my favorites.

1. The Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorialryanphilipp/Getty

Anchoring the western end of the National Mall is a temple to the Great Emancipator, President Abraham Lincoln. Built in the Greek Doric style, climb the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and say hello to Honest Abe, who's chilling in his shrine in a gigantic marble easy chair. If he were to suddenly come to life and stand-up, his statue would soar 28 feet above you. Now turn around and peer east towards a lit-up Washington Monument. If you notice people staring at the ground and walking around aimlessly, don't be alarmed, in fact join them! Somewhere near the middle of the platform is a brass marker indicating the exact spot Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream Speech." And down below next to the Reflecting Pool is where Forrest Gump stood and gawked.

2. The Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial at TwilightGetty Images/iStockphoto

Nestled along the gently lapping shores of the Tidal Basin is a memorial to a Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson. TJ was a Renaissance Man badass and the Jefferson Memorial reflects that. The man authored the Declaration of Independence, helped craft the Constitution, was the first Secretary of State, second Vice President, and third President of the United States. Built in the likeness of the Pantheon from ancient Roman times, at night The Jefferson tends to attract Love Birds who Uber in for a smooch on the romantic marble steps.

3. The Korean War Memorial
Washington, D. C. Cityscapes And City Views
Getty Images

Have you ever wanted to go on a combat patrol? Me neither, but to get the feel take a stroll at the Korean War Memorial along with its 19 larger than life-size bronze soldiers dressed in full combat gear. The platoon members, with wearied looks on their faces, are fanned out over an area the size of a tennis court. Close your eyes and you can imagine you're guarding the 38th Parallel too. Over 30,000 Americans died in this nearly forgotten war but this memorial does more than just remember, it brings it back to life so we never forget those who sacrificed.

4. The White House

The White House is one of the most overlooked stops on night tours offered by local travel companies. To get the best view of the Executive Mansion, make sure you're along the fence of the north lawn, where 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been converted into a pedestrian plaza. From here you can set-up shop and if you're lucky catch a glimpse of The Donald or First Lady Melania getting ready for bed. More than likely you'll just see a bunch of Secret Service agents milling around outside itching to taser the next nut-job to hop the fence.

5. The Capitol Building
A ground view of the U S Capitol building

Anchoring the eastern end of the mall is the building that houses the least functional branch of government, Congress. At 288 feet tall and perched on top of a hill, you can see the Capitol Building from all over the District. But at night get up close and personal for maximum effect. In an attempt to convince the denizens of this great land that they do the "people's work" after hours, a white light is illuminated on top of the dome when the House is in night session, and a red light for when the Senate is burning the midnight oil. Whether they are actually accomplishing anything is open for debate.

John Hopewell is a freelance writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a frequent contributor to the Washington Post and personal tour guide when family and friends visit.