On a trip to Maryland in October 2000, we decided to spend a few days and explore our National Capitol. It was an incredible experience. The city was so alive and you could feel it in the air. There were quite a few things that impressed me, especially the National Archives. However, we also had a great time exploring the magnificent Washington Monument. I had seen so many images of it, and was happy to finally see it in person.
For those who may not know, the monument is an obelisk on the National Mall built to commemorate George Washington, once commander-in-chief of the Continental Army and the first American president. Made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss, and standing over 554 feet tall, it is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk. Standing almost due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial, it is a site to see. On a historical note, the Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885 and officially opened on October 9, 1888.
What I really enjoyed was seeing the fifty American flags (not state flags), one for each state, that are flown 24 hours a day around a large circle centered on the monument. There was something tranquil about being located so close to the reflecting pool. It just seemed like a perfect location.
We didn’t have tickets, although you can reserve them online in advance, so we got in line and were lucky enough to be able to get a couple of tickets. It is a first come first serve thing and we were afraid we might not be able to go up. Once we had or tickets, we were ushered to another section where we were treated like criminals at security and then FINALLY let inside the actual building.
Once we were inside the actual building, we got in line with a small group and took the elevator to the top floor. The ride was pretty quick and would have never guessed it only took 70 seconds to get to the top which is 500 feet above the ground. Maybe it went fast, because there was a Ranger sharing information about the history of the Washington Monument. It was pretty interesting if I recall.
Once we reached the top we were able to step out on the observation deck and check out the amazing views of the city. It was breathtaking to be up on top of the world in the most powerful city in the world. After exploring and walking all around for a while, we headed down a level to their museum. It was interesting and informative, but I still enjoyed the views more, lol. It’s definitely something you should do if in D.C.
We had a great time, but I want to share a warning, there are no bathrooms in the monument. Make sure you go before heading up, especially with kids. I saw a frustrated family up there because their son had to go almost as soon as they got to the top :(. I’d also like to share that the Washington Monument is open daily except July 4 and December 25. Regular Hours 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The last tour begins at 4:00 p.m. Might want to keep that in mind as well, but it’s a great place to visit. Here is a link to their website if you’d like more information.
Washington Monument Visitor Information
2 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20024
Daily 9 am – 5 pm
Tickets become available daily at 10 a.m. for the next day’s visits (for example, if you are planning to visit on Oct. 5, you can reserve tickets at recreation.gov beginning at 10 a.m. on Oct. 4). Each ticket is good for up to four individuals in a group traveling together. There is a non-refundable reservation fee of $1.50 per ticket.
Free except for the reservation fee.
By Public Transportation
Public Transportation is the best option for reaching the National Mall and Memorial Park sites easily and conveniently. There are many options to reach us via the Metro, or bicycle via Capital Bikeshare. The National Mall Circulator Loop bus will provide easy access around the National Mall, and convenient connections to other Circulator buses for visits to uptown sites. Trains including Amtrak, MARC, and VRE service in Union Station and/or L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C.
Interstate 395 provides access to the Mall from the South. Interstate 495, New York Avenue, Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, George Washington Memorial Parkway, and the Cabin John Parkway provide access from the North. Interstate 66, U.S. Routes 50 and 29 provide access from the West. U.S. Routes 50, 1, and 4 provide access from the East.
General parking is available at the Paddle Boat Parking Lot along Maine Ave. SW, and along Ohio Drive, SW between the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials. Bus parking is available primarily along Ohio Drive, SW near the Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson Memorials and along Ohio Drive, SW in East Potomac Park. Nearby handicapped parking includes the Paddle Boat Parking Lot along Maine Ave. and at the World War II Memorial.
The Washington Monument uses an elevator to get to the observation level at 500′ and is fully accessible for visitors in wheelchairs.
The National Mall and Memorial Parks provide braille brochures of each of the memorials free of charge to onsite visitors. If possible, please feel free to email us or call 202-426-6841 to provide advance notice of your visit or visit the Survey Lodge Ranger Station to pick up copies upon your arrival. Brochures available include the Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Vietnam Veterans, and Korean War Veterans Memorials and the Washington Monument.
Closed captioning is available for the films in the Lincoln Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Ford’s Theatre and the Washington Monument. If you do not see closed captioning on these films during your visit, please make the park ranger on-site aware.
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