Leslie Bakke sat cross-legged on the grass of the Mall yesterday afternoon and lifted her face to the sun. It was time out from a game of touch football with friends, time to sip lemonade from a tumbler, time to appreciate the moment.

"It is a super day," said Bakke, and she was not just talking about the Redskins being in the Super Bowl. The unseasonably warm temperatures, coming on the last day of January, were the warmest of the month and thus the warmest of 1988.

Indeed, by Washington weather standards the day was downright balmy, and forecasters say the warmth will continue through tomorrow. The high yesterday was 65 degrees, and although it did not match the 71-degree record set in 1916, an informal survey failed to turn up anyone who complained.

After all, the normal January temperature averages 35 degrees -- a point better made by remembering that last week at this time, the Washington area was battening down for snow and cold.

Even by southern California standards, Washington's day came out ahead. San Diego reported a high of 60.

"It is a day to be outside . . . . That's why we are here," said Randy Jackson of Alexandria as he pointed out one of the National Zoo's slumbering giant pandas to his daughter.

Jackson and the panda were not alone in enjoying the outside. The parking lots at the zoo were overflowing, and the U.S. Park Police said the warm temperatures drew larger-than-normal crowds this time of year to the Smithsonian Institution and the national monuments.

Wilhelmina Dallam and her daughter Meg Ims were some of those who thought it a good day to hit the museums. Dallam lives in Warrenton, and her daughter is visiting from Hawaii, so it was first to the National Geographic Society headquarters for its 100th anniversary exhibit and then a Metro ride to the Smithsonian.

"It's a marvelous day," said Dallam, but the sweaters she and her daughter wore said more about the warmth. Shirt sleeves were the dress of the day, with jackets, sleeves knotted, tied around waists.

Winter habits went the way of winter garb. Tops on convertible cars came down. People lined up at vendor stands for ice cream and cold sodas. "I knew to put in the extra ice cream bars and not worry about a lot of hot chocolate," said one vendor outside the zoo's entrance on Connecticut Avenue NW. He reported brisker than normal business.

The opposite was the case for cabdriver Manuel N. Papakostas. The sunny skies meant that potential customers were willing to walk those three blocks to the Metro or wait for a bus or even complete the trip by foot.

"A lot of people may be out, but not many want to ride . . . . I came all the way from Southeast up here {to the zoo} and nothing," he said.

According to Scott Prosise, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, the warm weather is attributable to a flow of southwesterly winds from the Gulf Coast. Prosise said the unusually warm weather will continue for a couple of days, with high temperatures in the sixties forecast for today and tomorrow. Colder weather is forecast for the end of the week.

No one seemed to give that much thought yesterday. "The weather was so nice . . . it was a spur of the moment to come to the zoo," said Gary Goldman of Baltimore. Others, however, had given careful thought to their plans for the day.

"Gee, I figure if I ran my kids ragged at the zoo, they might conk out early enough so I could watch the game in peace," said one Arlington father of three.