After 3 years of reconstruction, Washington Monument opened up in Sept 19, 2019, for visitors to access. The revamp modernized the elevator and screening facility, both essential to provide a safe experience to the patrons. The monument will be open from 9 am to 5 pm every day except Christmas Day.
From the top of this 500 feet high iconic masterpiece, visitors can now see their favorite DC attractions, everything from the monuments and memorials on the National Mall to the farther away National Cathedral.
We here at MOE took a trip to the top and back and noted down the top 10 things you should know to make the most of your visit.
#TravelSmart Tips at a Glance
- Free same-day walk-in tickets are available from Sept 19 to Oct 18
- You MUST get in line by 8 am latest for the walk-in tickets
- You can take up to 6 tickets per person
- Tickets for Oct 18 and onwards can be reserved online after Oct 10 with a $1.50 fee
- There's a security screening without any lockers
- The ascent to level 500 takes 70 seconds
- The viewing area and the windows are small
- Don't miss the details of level 500 and the museum at level 490
- The 2-minute descent shows some of the commemorative stones
- It takes 60 minutes for the tour, but there's no limit
- Take the free DC Circulator or ride the metro
- Use Parking Apps to park and Street park on Sundays for free
Free same-day walk-in tickets are available from Sept 19 to Oct 18
If you're planning to go to the top of the monument in the first month of its reopening, same-day first-come-first-serve tickets are your only option.
You MUST get in line by 8 am latest for the walk-in tickets
The tickets can be picked up from a small visitor center called the Washington Monument Lodge located at 15th Street, between Madison Drive, NW and Jefferson Drive, SW.
The handouts begin at 8:30 am. On weekends and holidays, all the passes for the day are given out within the first hour. People line up from as soon as 6 am on some days to get the earliest tickets available.
For weekdays, you can arrive a little later. However, there's a surge in visitors expected for the next few weeks on weekdays too.
You can take up to 6 tickets per person
Not all members of your party need to stand in the queue. A maximum of 6 passes can be handed out to one person at a time.
Tickets for Oct 18 and onwards can be reserved online after Oct 10 with a $1.50 fee
Same-day walk-in tickets will still be available after Oct 18. But in addition to that, you also have the option to use this online portal to make advance reservations.
It only costs $1.50 and is definitely worth the time savings as you don't have to wait in a line on the morning of your visit day. Reservations can be made starting Oct 10 at 10 am.
Planning to visit the monument on any of the following dates? You need to be on on your toes and make your reservations as soon as the portal opens.
- Next 6 weekends after Oct 18
- Thanksgiving Long Weekend
- Christmas and New Years Week
There's a security screening without any lockers
One of the most significant improvements during the 3-year closure of the Washington Monument is the secure screening facility at the entrance.
Plan to arrive 15 minutes before the time on your pass. Carry minimal items with you to avoid any hassle during the security screening. Note that there are no lockers or a holding area for you to drop off any unwanted items.
You have to take off any watches, belts, phones, and wallets to be scanned. Food items are allowed as long as they are sealed. Water bottles are okay, but open cups will have to be thrown away.
The ascent to level 500 takes 70 seconds
The next notable improvement to the facility has been made to the elevator, which can take 18-20 guests adequately to the top. On your way up to the 500 feet high observatory, a 70-seconds long informational video will keep you engaged.
The viewing area and the windows are small
You can count the 8 windows at the top of the monument from the ground below, 2 in each direction. But once you're there, you'll notice how tiny they are. At a maximum, only 2 people can comfortably enjoy the expansive sight from any window.
In spite of the small area up there, timed tickets naturally control the crowd. So it won't take too long for a window area to be entirely available for your group to take pictures from.
Don't miss the details of level 500 and the museum at level 490
In addition to enjoying the aspects out of the windows, pay close attention to some of the features inside. A few instructions, like the one below, will highlight the impressive details.
After the viewing gallery, take the stairs to level 490. It may sound boring to some of you but at least skim through the exhibits.
They present fascinating information such as the engineering behind this highest masonry edifice in the world, why the structure has two bands of colors and several other historical facts.
The 2-minute descent shows some of the commemorative stones
On your way down, you'll get a glimpse of a few stones that commemorate George Washington. With 20 people around you and only two semi-transparent doors of the descending elevator, it is difficult to look at it any longer than a few seconds.
It takes 60 minutes for the tour, but there's no limit
You should expect to spend an hour from the entry to exit. That gives you enough time to check out everything at a relaxed pace.
However, if you would like to stay longer, there is no restriction. The only time you may think of staying longer would be to catch a sunset.
Take the free DC Circulator or ride the metros
Whether you are coming with reserved tickets in the middle of the day or to pick up tickets early morning, a free ride on the DC Circulator is the most recommended way to arrive.
You can find more information on the stops and routes of the Circulator here to plan your trip.
If you're traveling from farther away, use the WMATA metro service. You can find the best metro station to get off depending on your starting point by visiting their website or using Google Maps.
Use Parking Apps to park and Street park on Sundays for free
There is street parking available all around the national mall, which costs $2.30 per hour and is restricted to 2.5 to 3.5 hours.
Street parking is not recommended if you're planning to pick up same-day tickets. Who knows how long will you be in the line and which tickets will you get.
Instead, use one of the parking apps reviewed here. You can find a flat rate full-day parking within half a mile from the monument for as less as $10-$15.
However, street parking is free for Sundays and is a smart option to be close to the monument as well as save money.
Have you been waiting to enter the centerpiece of DC and head to the top? How do you feel now that it has finally reopened? Comment and let us know your experience after your visit.