Winter at the National Mall – it’s quiet, almost lifeless. There are no blossoms, no tulips, no flowering vegetation to speak of. The tour buses have thinned out and there are times when you feel like you have the place to yourself. In short, this is the time to be here, particularly if you like carting around a camera. The days are short, the sun weak, parking easier to find, and you’re not competing with a crowd of other photographers (mostly carrying cell phones) for the same shot.
Then there is the weather. I visited the Mall once in mid July and haven’t been back, and I’ve lived in the area for 15 years. The Mall is a place to walk – you can easily log more than five miles circumnavigating the area – and traipsing around in 90-degree weather is no way to spend your daylight hours. D.C. winters aren’t perfect, but they’re generally mild, and the dampened lighting more than makes up for the jacket you may have to bring along. Just steer clear of the nor’easters, which can dump as much as 3 feet of snow in the area (also a good photo-op if you’re willing to ride out the storm).