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The Washington Monument is the country’s largest and grandest memorial to George Washington, the Father of His Country. It’s the centerpiece of Washington DC and its tallest building, at 555 feet 5 1/8 inches. The designers must have had a thing with the number 5, as it’s also 55 feet at its base.

While Washington Monument tickets are free, you do need to reserve and have a timed entry ticket in order to go up to the observation deck which is at about the 500 foot level. In this article, we’ll look at how to get Washington Monument tickets, including reserving them in advance and what to do if you go to the Washington Monument without a ticket.

a tall white tower in a park

Getting Washington Monument Tickets In Advance

Looking at the official Washington Monument site, it gives three different ways to get Washington Monument tickets.

  • 30 Day Advance Reservations – Order tickets online up to a month in advance of your visit. Inventory for the next available day (30 days out) becomes available at 10 a.m. each morning (e.g. – on May 7 at 10 a.m., tickets will become available for visits on June 6).
  • 24-Hour Advance Reservations – Didn’t get tickets in advance or planning a last minute visit? A limited number of additional tickets are made available at 10 a.m. each day for the next day’s visits (e.g. – on May 7 at 10 a.m., tickets will become available for visits on May 8).

In my case, because I knew the date of my visit in advance, I just set myself a reminder to log on to get tickets 30 days out. You get tickets at recreation.gov, and there is a $1 service charge per ticket that is non-refundable.

How To Get To The Washington Monument

If you follow my guide on the best way to get from IAD to downtown Washington DC, you’ll know that I am a big fan of taking public transportation to get into Downtown Washington DC. There is parking available near the Washington Monument, but it’s limited (and expensive). It was much more convenient for us to take the Silver Line from the Hyatt Place Herndon/Dulles Airport-East. We didn’t even have to transfer trains as the Silver Line took us right to the Smithsonian stop, which puts you right on the National Mall with a view of the Washington Monument.

a man standing in front of a monument

It was about a 10 minute walk from the Metro station up to the base of the monument.

Getting Same Day Washington Monument Tickets

The 3rd way that you can get Washington Monument tickets is to try and get same-day Washington Monument tickets. Again, from the official site

  • The Washington Monument Lodge, located along 15th Street between Madison and Jefferson drives, opens at 8:45 a.m. for distribution of freesame daytimed tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis. One person may obtain up to six tickets as well as request their preferred ticket time. All visitors (including children ages 2+) must have a ticket to enter the Washington Monument. During peak season, tickets run out quickly. Be advised that many visitors form a line to wait long before the ticket window opens.

In talking to the park ranger, they said that people often start queuing up for the 8:45 a.m. distribution as early as 6 a.m., and the tickets sell out quickly, especially during peak season. So don’t come by at 8:45 a.m. (or later) and think you’re getting tickets. Note that there is no $1 service charge for walk-up Washington Monument tickets.

Washington Monument monthly closures

It’s also important to note that the Washington Monument is closed one day during the first week of every month for routine maintenance activities. In 2022, the closure dates are: January 4, February 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, June 1, July 5, August 2, September 1, October 4, November 1, December 1. I saw that notice on the website and it made my heart skip a beat since we were planning on attending on April 5th. But then I saw that was the date for 2022 not 2023.

In 2023, the Washington Monument is closed on January 10, February 6, March 3, April 6, May 2, June 5, July 7, August 3, September 5, October 2, November 3 and December 5, in addition to Independence Day and Christmas Day.

How Long Do You Spend At The Washington Monument

You can expect to spend about 60 minutes from the time your ticket starts. I asked how on time you have to be and the ranger says that it’s not super urgent you get there right on time – as long as you’re there within 15 to 30 minutes, you’re likely to be included with the group.

When you get to the Washington Monument for your Washington Monument Tour, you’ll be directed to sit down on the benches in front. There are 2 groups in play at one time. We had 2pm tickets, so when we got there, they were lining up the 1:30 p.m. people and the 2 p.m. tickets. As the 1:30 people went in, they started lining up the 2:30 p.m. groups.

a person sitting on a bench with a sign

 

You do have to go through a security checkpoint before you go up to the monument, and you’re not allowed to bring in bags larger than 18 x 16 x 8 inches, weapons (including fingernail clippers!), food and drink or strollers.

They take you into the monument in groups of around 6 to 8. Once you’re at the top observation deck, you can spend as much time as you want, similar to other tall buildings. They have binoculars and signs indicating what you can see in each direction.

a view of a park with a large body of water and a city

The Bottom Line

The Washington Monument is free to enter, but you do need free timed Washington Monument tickets. You can reserve them online (with a $1 service fee) or get Washington Monument tickets on the same day. Just know that you’ll have to arrive VERY early if you want same-day Washington Monument tickets. The Washington Monument is easy to get to via public transportation, and you can expect to spend about an hour at the Washington Monument.

What are your best tips to visit the Washington Monument? Leave them in the comments below


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