By Micaela Williamson
The eyesore of the scaffolding has come down, and everyone knows the Washington Monument is open to the public again, but do local families want to visit?
The thought of trying to find parking among the dreaded tour buses and crowed streets may be a turnoff now, but the summer tourist season is almost gone. Now is the time to reserve tickets for the early fall and check out our capital’s $15 million dollar repair project.
Reserve tickets online? But we thought it was free? Yes, visitors can obtain free, same day tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge on a first come, first serve basis, but with kids in tow, it is not recommended. The much more civil option is to reserve tickets online and pay the mere $1.50 handling fee per ticket.
The tickets will be mailed to your doorstep in about a week. This is highly desirable because it allows families to pick their preferred entry time and avoid lines. A maximum number of six tickets per individual can be ordered online.
On the date of the visit, plan to arrive about 15-30 minutes before admission. Rangers will instruct you to gather on a specific bench, marked by entry time, and when it is your turn, they will call your group to go through security. Please note, no food or drink is permitted within the Washington Monument, and there are no restrooms inside either.
Post security, visitors will travel up 500 feet via elevator and be treated to a bird’s eye view of many famous DC sites. Four sets of windows (North, South, East, and West,) offer stunning glimpses and also contain pictorial guides that explain some of the lesser-known buildings.
Children will love seeing the iconic sites such as the Lincoln Memorial with its majestic reflecting pool, the Jefferson, White House, and Capitol Building. Parents will fall in love with D.C. all over again, and even if just for a fleeting moment, forget the horrific traffic and broken politicians.
Once you’ve had enough views, venture down a staircase to see a few museum exhibits focusing on the monument’s rich history. Then, descend down the elevator, and view selected and ornate commemorative stones that make up the monument.
Topping more than 555 feet, the Washington Monument is the world’s tallest freestanding stone structure. Weather permitting; it is open to the public every day, except for Christmas and July 4. Please check the official website for operating hours, visiting information, and tickets.
Micaela Williamson is a co-author of local travel guide, Kid Trips Northern Virginia, an extraordinary resource that provides descriptions, useful information and insider tips for hundreds of local destinations. Micaela is also an award winning blogger who enjoys supporting area businesses and scouting out family-friendly venues with her two young sons.