This post is about how to visit the Washington Monument, the memorial for the nation's first president.
We include tips on getting here, how to get tickets, and how to plan your trip.
- How to Get Tickets
- How Long Is the Tour?
- What You Will See
- Tour the National Mall
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO VISIT THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT
Technically, tickets to visit the Washington Monument are free, unless you opt for pre-ordered tickets through their reservation service, which carries a $1 per ticket reservation fee.
You can visit the Washington Monument itself at any time, day or night. We think the best way to do so is on our National Mall Walking Tour, of course.
The grounds are open 24/7 and are well-lit at night. You may visit at any time and can walk up to the monument for photos up close.
However, if you want to go inside and go to the top of the Washington Monument, tickets are required.
There is a $1 service charge per ticket and a limit of 6 tickets per order.
All persons over the age of 2 are required to have a ticket.
You can get a ticket by reserving one in advance, which we recommend, especially on weekends and any day of the week during the summer months.
Tickets are released 30 days out at 10 am each morning.
Go to http://www.recreation.gov, or call 1.877.444.6777 for individual tickets or 1.877.559.6777 for group reservations.
These tickets go extremely fast. You are more likely to get a ticket if you do not have a preferred ticket time and are willing to go at any time.
24-Hour Advance Reservations - Next-Day Tickets
If you did not get online advance tickets, there are some tickets released for the next day's visits at 10 am the day before and they go fast!
If you are not able to get tickets, try again at 10:15 am when tickets that were not properly purchased go back into inventory and there are a limited number of additional tickets.
It's best to book tickets as soon as possible during peak season.
There are also a limited number of tickets given away each day, beginning at 8:45 am.
The tickets are given away at the Washington Monument Lodge. The address is 2 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20024 (map), and is located in front of the Monument.
It's also where the small gift shop and bathrooms are located. These tickets carry no reservation fees.
NOTE FOR SAME-DAY TICKETS TO THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT:
If you plan on getting same-day tickets to the Washington Monument during Spring/Summer months, expect an early morning.
- The ticket window opens at 8:45 am, but the line starts to form as early as 7 am.
- Tickets are given out on a first-come, first-served basis, so morning times tend to go fast.
- Each person can obtain up to 6 tickets.
- Tickets can be fully distributed by 9:30 am.
If you don't get same-day tickets, you may still be in luck.
School groups visiting between March-June often order too many tickets in advance.
Since they cannot use them all, many groups will hand out tickets to guests waiting around the base of the memorial.
There is no way to time this so fate has to be on your side, but if it's a nice day and you see a lot of middle-schoolers in matching t-shirts, it may be worth hanging out to see!
CAN YOU STILL WALK UP TO THE TOP OF THE WASHINGTON MONUMENT?
There are 898 stairs to get to the top of the monument and you used to be able to walk them.
However, the stairs at the Washington Monument are closed to visitors so the only way to get to the top is to get tickets to ride the elevator both ways.
They were closed in the 1970s, though on some occasions guests have been at the top when the elevator broke and had to walk down.
Luckily you can see the Monument from most of the city, making it easy to figure out which way to go.
However, looks can be deceiving and it is often farther away than it appears.
Its address is 2 15th Street, NW. (map) at the intersection of 15th St NW with Madison and Jefferson Drives.
The nearest Metro stations are either the Smithsonian Metro or Federal Triangle, both on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines.
While the Federal Triangle stop is technically closer, at 12th and Pennsylvania Ave NW, the Smithsonian stop is the easiest.
It's a 6-minute walk from this station along the National Mall to the ticket office.
If you are unfamiliar with DC's subway system, be sure to read our guide to mastering the DC Metro.
Alternatively, you could take advantage of the Circulator Bus’s National Mall route.
The Circulator is an inexpensive public bus option that makes a stop right in front of the monument.
Likewise, if you are considering purchasing a hop-on-hop-off bus ticket, keep in mind that all tours make a stop here as well.
Parking at the Washington Monument
There is limited parking in the area and they have strictly enforced regulations.
On-street parking along Constitution Ave NW is subject to time limits as well as rush-hour enforcement.
You can reserve a parking spot in a garage near the Washington Monument through a service called SpotHero.
Once you choose a spot that works for you, they’ll email you a parking pass and you can drive downtown knowing that space will be waiting for you. Pretty easy!
- The Monument is open every day except July 4 and December 25.
- Summer Hours (Memorial Day through Labor Day): 9 am–10 pm
- Memorial Day is generally the last Monday of May and Labor Day is generally the first Monday of September.
- Winter Hours: 9 am– 5 pm, with the last tour leaving 15 minutes before closing.
Visitor's Tip: Plan your timed tickets to coincide with the sunset for beautiful views!
You will have to go through security before heading into the elevator to go up the Monument, so plan on being there a little before your ticket time.
Once you reach the base of the monument, look for U.S. Park Rangers in green shirts and beige hats.
He or she will direct you to one of two benches to sit down and wait until your time slot is called into the security entrance.
The image is taken from the Washington Post.
Security takes in 5 people at a time, but the line moves relatively quickly.
WARNING: You will be exposed to all elements while waiting for security. There is no cover and you may be in direct sun for 20 minutes or more. Be sure to prepare for all weather conditions.
Items that you may not bring to the Monument:
- food and beverages
- large backpacks and purses
- knives and other weapons
- Animals (except service animals)
- bulky items
Wheelchairs are permitted.
Visitor Tip: There is no storage facility at the monument. Learn about some options to store your luggage on an hourly basis.
Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes at the Washington Monument, from lining up to exiting the structure.
You can spend a bit more time if you find the view and exhibits more interesting than the average visitor.
Once you pass through security, you will be directed to the line to take the elevator to the 500' (152 m) observation deck.
Since there is only one elevator to go up and down, you may sometimes have to wait in the lobby.
Don't worry, there is a bench. While waiting, have a look at the bust of George Washington.
The elevator ride-up has a video that will tell you a brief summary of the monument. Brief because the whole elevator ride takes about 70 seconds!
When you're at the top of the obelisk there are two levels of views and exhibits for you to view at your own pace.
The elevator ride down is about 2 minutes, again with a video and a chance to view the inside of the monument, including several commemorative stones.
Once off of the elevator, you'll be let off at the highest point open to the public where you can look out on all four sides of the obelisk.
Along with the viewpoints, you will also find guides to show you what you can see from each window.
- North: Toward the White House and downtown Washington, DC
- East: Toward the U.S. Capitol Building and the Smithsonian Museums
- South: Toward the Thomas Jefferson Memorial and Virginia
- West: you can see the World War 2 Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and Virginia
Once you have finished with the views, you can take the stone steps found in the corner down one floor to the museum level.
This next level has an exhibit about the building and maintenance of the monument.
Learn about the earthquake in 2011 or the many times the monument has been hit by lightning.
On this level, you can wait for the next elevator. Once it drops off people at the top exhibit level, it comes down to pick up guests going down.
The ride down lasts about 1 min longer than the way up.
On the way down, the ranger will turn off the lights in the elevator, so you can see the commemorative stones on the inside of the memorial.
Many civic organizations, states, and individuals donated commemorative stones in the 19th century for the construction of the memorial.
You'll be able to see some from either side so it doesn't matter where you are in the elevator, but if you really want a photo of one, try not to be in the center.
Once you reach the bottom, you will be guided to the exit and your tour of the inside of the monument will be over.
You will probably notice some people laying on the ground at the base of the monument with their legs and feet pointing up to the sky taking photos.
Will you be one of them?
And although you will get so much information on our tours, I just can’t leave you without any trivia:
- It is the world's tallest freestanding stone structure, and the tallest obelisk, at 555 feet 5 1/8 inches (that's roughly 170 m).
- There are taller monuments but they are either not all stone, or not a true obelisk, or both.
- When it was opened in Oct 1888, it was the tallest structure in the world. For about 6 months, until the Eiffel tower was finished.
- It was closed in August 2011 after an earthquake rocked DC and the surrounding areas, causing damage to the top of the monument. There were several cracks and loose stones, and the monument was encased in scaffolding for almost 2 years to repair the damage.