Yesterday we got downtown early to take in some museums. Since it was just past 9 a.m. we were able to find parking pretty much almost anywhere along Constitution Avenue. We decided to park near the Washington Monument and see if some tickets were still available. Turns out we were lucky and were able to get tickets for 9:30! (more on how to get tickets at the end of this post).
We were on our way...
Waiting to enter
NPS has two lines set up - one for the current tour time and another for the following (half-hour apart). You get on your line and are given a group; you wait until your group is called. Yesterday it looked like it was groups of 8 were called into the monument at a time. The wait wasn't too long.
|After we received our tickets, we walked back to the monument to get on line|
Security and elevator ride
Once your group is called, you go through security (metal detector and bag check) and then wait in the base of the monument in line for the elevator, which was large and accommodated a nice-sized group of people for each ride up. The elevator takes 70 seconds to reach 500 feet, which is where you get off to take your tour. During the elevator ride, an NPS ranger provides more information.
See the Washington D.C. from above
Seeing the city from this angle was stunning. I'd taken the Old Post Office tour a number of times and saw some neat views, but this provided a different (and higher!) perspective. There are two windows on each side of the Washington Monument (one with steps to give a boost and one without) and surprisingly plenty of room to move about. There are plaques positioned next to the windows which outline what landmarks you can see from each viewpoint. Here are a few highlights:
|View of the Jefferson Memorial and the bridges to Virginia|
|View of the Lincoln Memorial|
|View of the White House|
You can get tickets one of two ways. You can stand online at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th St. in front of the monument, and the ticket window opens at 8:30 a.m. The line often starts well before then, but if you go in the off-season you may not have a wait (we didn't), but in busier season there is likely to be a lot of people online. Tickets are free and you can only get same day tickets this way (up to 6 tickets - keep in mind kids 2 and up do need a ticket). You choose your preferred time from the available open time slots.
The other option is to go to NPS' Washington Monument web page (or call 1-877-444-6777) to reserve your tickets and preferred time slot. There is a fee of $1.50 per ticket with this method, but if you plan to visit during peak times (April to Sept.), this is likely your better option. I'd recommend paying this small fee and booking your tour online. This way you don't miss out.
Update: I was able to book online in mid-September 2015 with a few days notice, but in 2016 we tried in February to book tickets for April and there were already no tickets left. So I'd recommend you check ahead for availability.
Update #2 (March 2017) The monument elevator closed earlier this year for repairs and there is now a sign that says the monument elevator is closed until 2019.
When it reopens, definitely worth a visit!