on October 22, 2006
The Washington Monument is truly a landmark worth visiting. It is free to get in, but you do need to get free tickets to reserve a time. There is limited space and the line-ups would be horrendous otherwise.To get your ticket you have to go to the ticket booth early in the day. They give out tickets from about 8am until they are all gone. No strollers are allowed inside the monument, because of very narrow passages, and also because the elevator picks you up a floor lower than it lets you off.We got to the ticket booth around 10:00 on a cloudy, rainy Saturday. We could have had tickets for as early as 11:30, but we chose 1:30, figuring it would give us time to wander off and see something else first. We got back right at 1:30 and went to the lineup. The Monument is run by the US Park Services, so there are Park Rangers who let you in and bring you up in the elevator. They were very friendly and knowledgeable about the monument.Once inside the building you have to let your bags get searched and go through a metal detector. (Rather standard in DC these days). Then you are taken to a line-up for the elevator. The elevator lets people on and whisks them up to the top of the monument (Well, as high up as it will fit) to the observation area. There are 2 windows on each of the four sides of the building, so you have to take turns looking out. There are also labelled photos at the window so you can figure out exactly what you are looking at. Very helpful for figuring out which Smithsonian is which and that sort of things.One of the two windows on each side had a small step that the kids could stand on so they could see. The 8-year-old could see a bit without it, but not the 4-year-old. You can stay on the top level as long as you want and then you walk down one flight of stairs to catch the elevator. There is also a gift shop and some museum-type displays on this level.The elevator takes you back down, pausing to look at some of the donated stones. We learned that all of the states donated a stone that was native to that state. There were also stones donated from cities such as Boston and New York. The park ranger on the elevator gave us information both on the way up and the way down, so it was great. This was someplace that the 8-year-old really wanted to see and he was so excited that he got to go up to the top. He loved the view. Even on a rainy, cloudy day, the view was impressive, although the pictures are a bit foggy looking.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009