We were back in Washington DC last week, which is a place that we are very familiar with. The National Mall is a park that extends between the Lincoln Memorial and the United States Capital, which is approximately 1.9 miles long. It is obviously a huge draw for tourists that visit Washington DC as the Washington Monument sits at the heart of the park and the White House and Jefferson Memorial are also very close by. There are several walking paths throughout the park and vendors are there selling ice cream, water, and other items. There are also many food trucks in the surrounding area.
It isn’t just a location for tourists, but the National Mall is also a popular place for locals to come and enjoy the scenery and to walk, jog, and bike along the many paths. On nice days, you will find many families and couples out enjoying the weather and relaxing in the park. Since we have been to all of the museums and seen all of the important sites on previous visits to Washington, we decided to enjoy the park as the locals do, simply walking along the Reflecting Pool and having a relaxing day in our Nation’s Capital.
Many of the most important museums are located in the general vicinity of the National Mall as well, including the Smithsonian Museums. We also walked through Lafayette Square, which is on the other side of the White House and then walked passed the White House on our way to the National Mall. If you’d like to go to one of the historic restaurants in Washington, we’d recommend going to the Lafayette Square area where you can find many restaurants with a colorful history. Even if you are visiting Washington DC for the first time, it is worthwhile taking your time while you are at the National Mall and taking your time to truly enjoy it and relax.
We decided to look for a trail near Colorado Springs that we hadn’t hiked previously and found the Monument Rock Extended Trail that is located in the nearby town of Monument. The trail is rated as moderate and takes you by an impressive rock feature known as Monument Rock. The trail itself goes through the woods, across meadows, and has views of the mountains. There are several intertwining trails, some of which will take you to the top of Mount Herman, which is the peak that sits above the trail. There are also some that are rated hard, so it is important to pay attention to which trail you are following as it isn’t well marked.
The Monument Rock Extended Trail is a loop that goes right next to Monument Rock, which is quite impressive. The full loop is about 2.7 miles, so it makes for a nice hike with an elevation gain that is less than 300 feet. The views are spectacular and, as is typical for this time of year, there are many wildflowers along the trail. The highlight of the hike is certainly Monument Rock, which stands out due to its size, color, and shape. It was certainly an enjoyable hike and we were able to complete it before the afternoon rain started.
We didn’t make it to the Arc de Triomphe during our first trip to Paris, but we made a point of visiting it during our second trip. It was cold and rainy, but that didn’t deter us from going to the top of the Arc and getting views of the city. In addition to the famous Champs-Elysees, there are another 11 avenues that all stretch to and from the Arc de Triomphe. The full name of the Arc is the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile, which translates to Triumphant Arch of the Star. The star refers to the shape that is made by the twelve radiating avenues that look like rays of light emanating from the Arc.
The Arc de Triomphe was originally commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, but it wasn’t completed until 1836 and Napoleon never actually saw the completed project. The monument was erected to honor the French people that fought and died in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The names of all of the French generals and victories are inscribed on the inner and outer walls. There is also the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I and an eternal flame located at the arc.
Seeing the Arc de Triomphe is definitely fascinating, but going to the terrace at the top and seeing the city of Paris and the Eiffel Tower is probably the highlight of going to the Arc. You can definitely expect it to be crowded and only a limited number of people are able to go to the terrace at any given time. The Arc de Triomphe should certainly be on your itinerary if you visit Paris and we are glad that we got the opportunity to see it since we missed it on our first trip.