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The Digital Experience On The Road

While recently on a vacation road trip, I made an impromptu visit to the nations capitol, Washington D.C. The impromptu plan was to spend one whole day being a tourist, walking and visiting the many monuments and buildings on my wish list.

And, while it’s a great ideal to get plenty of walking in—good for the body exercise, I found that in order to complete my list in an appreciative amount of time, it would have been better to get mobile for parts of the journey—to reach all my wish list destinations before nightfall. Maybe renting a bike, renting a Segway, or taking a bus monument tour for the monuments on my list. Being such a pedestrian friendly, and pedestrian right-of-way area, I’d have no reservations about doing either, next time.


Whichever mode of navigation chosen, one item that is indispensable is a map. D.C. is a large place and knowing where points of interest are located is a necessity. So, before I started on my days adventure, I downloaded the free NPS National Mall and Memorial Parks app, which has a map of the National Mall and points of interest.

The Map feature starts off with a calibration, so that it can locate where you are in relation to the National Mall items on the map. Very helpful. While in the app, if you hold the app up so that the camera is pointed at a monument, the apps “Park Lens” feature will indicate what points of interest are around the monument and in which direction. Very cool.

The NPS National Mall and Memorial Parks app has lots of other helpful features, including:

  • Sites: Learn more about points of interest with lively text, professional photographs, and engaging podcasts under the “Album” button. The “Info” button includes the site’s location, hours of operation, nearest Metro station, and other essential information.
  • Walking Directions: Get from one place to another by following a line on the map or a list of directions. Estimated walking times are given.
  • Tours: Follow a recommended tour depending on how much time you have or your special interest—from memorials to presidents to military monuments to destinations off the beaten path. You can even create personal tours with the “My Tour” feature—just tap the “+” at the bottom right of a site page. The app maps the route for you.
  • Events and News: Get up-to-date information from the National Park Service about what is happening at the National Mall and Memorial Parks.






And More…

Other useful apps for navigation through Washington, D.C., are:

Smithsonian Mobile

“Smithsonian Mobile is your digital mobile guide to the Smithsonian, built collaboratively with our visitors. Find out what’s on where, discover highlights, search our collections, access tours, podcasts and other apps. Add tips and photos from your visit for other visitors, or share your experiences and photos with Twitter and Facebook followers and friends.
Use augmented reality (AR), “Smithsonian that Way,” to discover the behind-the-scenes work of the Smithsonian’s museums, research centers, libraries, archives, and affiliates in your neighborhood.”


US Capitol Visitor Guide



“The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Guide includes all the information you need to prepare for a visit to the U.S. Capitol. It includes information about booking tours of the Capitol, visitor amenities, location, hours of operation, watching Congress in session, Exhibition Hall, the Capitol Grounds, the Statue of Freedom, Capitol statues, and security.”


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