Visiting the National Mall? There's a New App for That

The NPS National Mall app will make visits to NPS sites in the heart of Washington, D.C. a lot easier. NPS image.

Navigation around the nation's capital has often been regarded as a bit challenging for tourists, but a new app developed by the National Park Service can make a visit to the National Mall a bit easier for smart phone users.

The NPS National Mall app, one of the first apps developed by the National Park Service (NPS), runs on Apple iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches and is available free from Apple's iTunes App Store. The NPS expects to release the Google Android version this fall.

According to an NPS spokesperson, the app includes a map of popular Washington, D.C., destinations, displays the user's current location, highlights points of interest and provides walking directions to more than 70 featured sites. A “Park Lens” feature allows visitors to identify popular National Mall attractions by using their mobile device’s camera. As a user holds up their mobile device, labels appear on screen to identify sites and monuments.

The app comes preloaded with tour suggestions of various lengths and topics and allows visitors to design customized National Mall tours with walking directions. Information, photos and videos of the sites also are included.

“Today's visitors are more technologically attuned than ever before,” said Superintendent Bob Vogel. “The public increasingly relies on interactive maps and GPS for navigation, and we want to use this technology to enrich our visitors' experiences. This app functions as a virtual visitor center with services that range from personalized tours to multimedia content.”

The National Park Service developed the app as part of a larger wayfinding program that includes new signs currently being installed throughout the National Mall. The Trust for the National Mall, the park's official fundraising partner, raised $1.1 million, which was matched dollar-for-dollar by federal Centennial Challenge funds, totaling $2.2 million for the new wayfinding program. The project aims to improve orientation with clear directions as well as presenting information about both iconic monuments and lesser-known national sites.

“The National Mall attracts more than 25 million people each year, many of whom regularly use smart phones and mobile devices to get directions, get peer reviews, and share experiences with friends and family. The new app and wayfinding system is built to enable an enhanced visitor experience of one of the country’s most popular national parks,” said Caroline Cunningham, President of the Trust for the National Mall. “The Trust applauds the National Park Service for making the leap to integrate the latest technology into this historic space.”

National Mall and Memorial Parks is located in the heart of Washington, D.C. The park includes such well-known landmarks as the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, as well as some lesser known gems such as the District of Columbia War Memorial and the African American Civil War Memorial. Additional information on the park is available at www.nps.gov/nama or www.nationalmall.org.