Absolutely! The Martin Luther King Memorial is open every day, 24 hours a day, and is always free to the public. Any good Washington monuments tour will take you there, and you’re free to walk around and check it out at your leisure. If you’re interested in checking out the MLK Memorial and other famous spots around the National Mall, the memorial is featured on our Washington DC Monuments Self-Guided Walking Tour. The tour lasts for about two hours and includes over 50 stops and bits of information on both individual sites and the city itself.
The MLK Memorial was inspired by a line from Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech: “Out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” The line refers to the idea of traveling through a period of struggle and disappointment to find salvation on the other side. That meaning is symbolized by the structure and design of the monument. The monument comprises two different parts: a 30-foot tall relief of the King carved from granite, named the Stone of Hope, and two other pieces of granite that represent the mountain of despair. The pieces are deliberately placed to allow visitors to the memorial to symbolically travel through Martin Luther King’s journey in the speech.
When entering the memorial, visitors have to pass between the two granite walls of the mountain of despair to reach the Stone of Hope inside. The Stone of Hope itself was carved out of pink granite, ensuring that it remains visible even at night while the mountain of despair fades into the darkness. It’s one of the more poetic monuments in the country, making it one of the most popular to visit.