National Mall and Memorial Parks Scavenger Hunt

As part of the National Park Service Centennial Celebration, the National Mall and Memorial Parks organized a scavenger hunt to lesser visited sites throughout the National Mall area. I love games and parks and learning (#nerd) so I was excited for this. But I was also thinking it was probably for kids so I was trying not to appear too excited. I tentatively approached the starting place near the Washington Monument doing my best to look disinterested.

This is what I found:

CluesThere were 5 sites I had to find. There were 2 pictorial clues for each section of map where one of the sites was found. Yeah. This definitely wasn’t for children. I thought I knew 2 of the answers, but I had no idea what the others were. To win a prize all I had to do was put the 2 clues together, find the corresponding site on the map, go to the site, get a stamp, repeat for all the sites, and make it to the FDR Memorial before 100 other people did. So I did what any Millennial would do – I crowdsourced. I posed the above picture on Facebook and you, my beloved community, were no help! It’s okay, I forgive you. It was hard! And this is coming from a tried and true park nerd.

Submit your guesses now. Tweet them to me @valeriedperry

Need some more help? Let’s break it down.



Clue 1

The bonus clue I got from the volunteer was: “The top picture is an island, which island?” And what’s that other thing? A cross? A look out? A ship? Am I looking for an island with a boat? Do I need to take a boat to an island? Where am I going to find a boat?










Clue 2

Bonus Clue: The top picture is a country. A country that used to be 2 countries.









Clue 3

A signature with palm trees. Signature beaches?


FYI: This was the only one I knew (or thought I did). I found it when I went to the right general area. But I was thinking of the wrong historical document (bonus hint).









Clue 4

No drinking at the bird? A sober crane?

Bonus clue: This is an extra tricky one – it’s not even on the map! It’s located near the Navy Memorial. The rangers just told everyone what this answer was as no one was getting it.









Clue 5

Stargazing in South Carolina?

Bonus Clues: The top guy is a surveyor. The bottom is a map of the city I was in. Who surveyed the city?






Make your final guesses. Again, tweet them to me @valeriedperry. Really! I’ll reply and everything…


Answer 1

The island is Cuba and the bottom picture is a battleship – the USS Maine to be exact. The answer is the Cuban Friendship Urn.cubanamerican

The USS Maine sunk in Havana Harbor in 1898. The marble urn was displayed in Havana for a while before coming to the United States in 1928. It features a quote by then Cuban President Geraldo Machado, “The memory of the Maine will last forever through the centuries as will the bonds of friendship between the homeland of Cuba and the homeland of the United States of North America.” Hey, it a marble urn, not a crystal ball.

For years the urn was displayed outside of the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC. After relations soured, the urn mysteriously disappeared. The National Park Service rediscovered the urn in 1992 and moved it to its present day site in East Potomac Park.

Answer 2

The country is Germany (hard to tell without any context, right?!?) and flowers grow in a garden. The answer is the German American Friendship Garden.


Established in 1983 the garden celebrates the 300th anniversary of the settlement of the first German settlers in America – in Germantown, PA – on October 6, 1683. It is positioned in the direct line of sight from the White House to the Washington Monument.

germanamericanAnswer 3

So I thought I knew this answer. I saw the signature and thought Constitution and the trees and thought garden. Constitution Gardens! Unfortunately, John Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution, he signed the Declaration of Independence. And palm trees don’t mean garden, they mean island. Unfortunately for me the answer wasn’t Constitution Gardens, it was Signers Island. Fortunately for me, Signers Island is in Constitution Gardens. So I was kind of right?


To visit Signers Island, cross the footbridge in Constitution Gardens. Here you’ll find a stone dedicated to each of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Answer 4

As I said, this one was hard! It wasn’t on the map. But the answer is Temperance Fountain. It’s located at the corner of Indiana Ave and 7th Street NW.


The fountain was donated to the city in 1882 by Henry D. Cogswell, a supporter of the temperance movement. Though not flowing today, the fountain originally had cold running water. Cogswell believed that people would be less inclined to drink alcohol if they had access to cool running water.

Other temperance fountains from Cogswell can still be seen in New York City, San Francisco (where Cogswell was from), and Rockville, Connecticut. Fountains have been removed from the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Boston, and a few other places.

Answer 5

A surveyor and a map of Washington, DC. Who surveyed Washington, DC? Well, George Washington was a surveyor – the answer must be the Washington Monument, right?! Wrong. But I didn’t discover that until I walked all around the Monument grounds (a surprisingly long way!).

Washington, DC was surveyed by Benjamin Banneker who is honored with Benjamin Banneker Park – a hard to find spot near L’Enfant Plaza. Don’t trust Google Maps on this one. It told me the park was the same place as the Wharf. It’s not. It’s on the hill overlooking the Wharf. benjaminbanaker

The self-educated, free African-American Banneker was an astronomer and mathematician. He was well-known for producing a series of almanacs in the late 1700s. Earlier in his life he was called upon to use his astronomical knowledge and celestial observations to calculate latitude and longitude and help create a map of the Washington, DC area.

How did you do?

I consider myself a park nerd who knows her way around DC fairly well and I had heard of only one of these places. And had seen one other. The three remaining were completely new to me. This supports my mantra that exploration doesn’t have to mean a vacation or a life change. Just take a different route home from work and see what you can discover.

Did you learn anything from this post? Which of these lesser visited monuments and memorials would you like to visit? What is a not so famous monument in your town? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter.

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