Want to go to the top of the Washington Monument with kids? We (finally!) zoomed 500 feet into the air (on a fast elevator) and think you can do it too! Visiting the Washington Monument seems to be on everyone’s bucket list, but actually getting tickets and planning the visit can seem overwhelming. Fear not, we share all the tips for this amazing, (nearly) free adventure in Washington, DC that is totally doable with kids!
How to Get Washington Monument Tickets
Reserve timed-entry tickets to the Washington Monument HERE or by calling 877-444-6777. You can book tickets 30 days in advance starting at 10 am (so October 23 tickets become available on September 24 at 10 am). Tickets are FREE, but there is a $1.00 non-refundable fee per ticket. You can reserve up to six tickets. Everyone must have a ticket including anyone age 2 and older.
Note that you can reschedule your timed-entry visit. We had to once! However, you have to re-register and pay the $1 reservation fee per ticket again. By changing your ticket, you are letting the monument know that different visitors are welcome during your scheduled time slot. All fees are not refundable.
Technically, you can walk up to get same day, timed tickets at the Washington Monument Lodge on 15th Street right between Madison and Jefferson. Tickets are free and first come, first served, starting at 8:45 am. However, the lines are very long (starting very early) and a timed ticket is not guaranteed. We really recommend planning ahead and letting tourist take a chance with getting same day tickets.
10 Tips for Visiting the Top of the Washington Monument
- Park on the street or ride the metro to Federal Triangle Metro Station. Download the ParkMobil app to park from your phone. Go to the bathroom beforehand since there are no bathrooms inside the monument, but some on 15th Street between Jefferson and Madison.
- With tickets easily seen on your phone, meet a Park Ranger outside of the Washington Monument. Simply let them know you are there for a tour. They will tell you where to stand until it is your turn to go in. They group people with timed tickets together to fit into the spacious elevator. Here, Park Rangers also hand out a map to for guests to identify buildings below once they are at the top.
- Security is a big priority–prepare like you are going on an airplane. You will go through security to check for items. Here is a list of items that are not permitted. Water and sealed food is permitted. Masks are not required. Of course, wheelchairs and service animals are permitted.
- Strollers are not allowed inside the monument, but there is stroller parking outside. Overall, this is a kid-friendly experience and the staff are SO FRIENDLY!
- The Washington Monument Elevator ride going UP is only 70 seconds! They have a fun video with a little background about the Washington Monument. It is easy to ride and exciting knowing you’re paying homage to our First President. I was a little nervous about the height of the building, but it really feels like you are simply inside a building.
- There are two windows on each of the four sides of the Washington Monument. They have a built in step ladder for one window per side (thank you!!). This made looking out of the windows on the North, South, East, and West sides so much easier for our children. I told my kids they each had to think of one question to ask a Park Ranger. Ask how many stones make up the Monument (the answer is over 36,000). Take your time here since a visit to the Washington Monument with kids is a treasure!
- The Observation Level has no time limit, but does have a constant flow of visitors. Be sure to take turns looking out the window with fellow guests. This is also a great way to greet people in Washington, DC! We met people from Canada, Ireland, and Scotland at the top of the Washington Monument!
- On that note, take photos! And offer to take photos of others and you take photos of them. Everyone there is excited to be there and going out of our way to show kindness to others just helps make it an even more fun experience.
- Walk down one flight of stairs to the small museum at 490 feet in the air. Here you’ll see building plans, some insider info, and how they handle lightening strikes at the Washington Monument.
- The Elevator going DOWN is also about 70 seconds, but they slow down the elevator to showcase parts of the inside of the Monument. You stay in the elevator, but they open windows for you to see commemorative stones from states, cities, people, countries, etc. on the elevator ride down. It is really neat! As you exit, there are ramps to exit the building for those in wheelchairs or limited mobility.
Pictures of the North, South, East, and West Views
The Park Rangers kindly hand out a large map with information about the buildings you can see from the top of the Washington Monument. Plus, below each window is a map pointing out important places to note.
North View of the White House
South View of the Potomac River and Jefferson Memorial
East View of the Capitol Building
West View of the Lincoln Memorial
Giving Away Two Timed Tickets
This is a personal story, so skip if you’d like! We reserved six tickets, but last minute scheduling conflicts arose for our oldest son and husband and they couldn’t join us anymore. So, me and the children decided to give away the two tickets to someone on the spot at the Washington Monument. We knew tickets are a hot commodity and me and the kids were all on alert looking for who we’d give the two tickets to. We looked around, asked a few people, and then found two parents who were with their daughter who had one timed entry ticket around the same time as us! (Hi wonderful Canadian family we met a few weeks ago!). They were so grateful and we were so grateful to pay it forward. Whats more, we had a LOVELY visit with this family. It was all serendipitous!
Have you visited the top of the Washington Monument with kids? Share your tips with other families in the comments!
We went and got ice cream from a truck afterwards and it was a hit!