Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Keep It Local: Washington Monument

The Washington Monument just recently re-opened to visitors after being closed for repairs since the August 2011 earthquake that shook DC. And we were sure to get advanced tickets for our very first official day of summer break! Mom picked an 11 am tour start, just to make sure we didn't need to rush out of our jammies the very first day of vacaye.

We got down to the Mall just after 10, which was perfect because parking along Constitution opens up right at 10. We ran around a bit, but it was HOT out. So we scooted over to the correct waiting area by 10:30 -- perfect timing to be in the front of the 11 am tour group we booked (mom cannot stand waiting in lines). After about 5 minutes, Cam decided she HAD to go to the bathroom, immediately. That meant losing our spot in line since mom had us by herself, but she figured it would be quick. And we were. But the throngs of other 11 am ticket holders were faster and we returned about 10 minutes later to a huge, long line. And that meant that we waited until 11:30 basically to get our turn to head in. We were hot, thirsty and ready to get our history on.

Fortunately it was worth the wait. It's actually not much of tour, but it is insanely cool to go up 500 feet above the city (although slightly claustrophobic). You do get a little history from rangers on the elevator ride up and down, and there are some displays as well. We thought the coolest thing was getting to compare today's views outside the windows to the historical photographs of the same view back in the day. We also loved getting a peek at the stones donated by each state -- you get a relatively quick view on the elevator ride down.

The Monument's summer hours are 9 am to 10 pm, with the last tour beginning by 9:45 pm. The National Park Service gives out about 2,000 tickets for tours each day, with half of them being released the morning of from the on-site ticket window starting at 8:30 am (but word is the line grows long before that and tickets go quickly in summer). You can also make advance reservations online for a small fee. All tickets are for a specific time and we suggest getting in line a half hour before your tour starts (and having someone hold that spot!).

New historic site visit? Check. Bring it, Summer Bucket List.

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