Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page >

Reservations for Washington Monument and Archives

Reservations for Washington Monument and Archives

Jan 10th, 2009, 10:48 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 66
Reservations for Washington Monument and Archives

We are taking a trip to DC in early June and want to make reservations to tour the Washington Monument and the National Archives. I would like to know what times it's best to tour both of these places...morning, early afternoon or later in the afternoon.

I've read that if there are strong winds at the Washington Monument, they cancel the tours and try to rebook you (if space is available). They do not refund your money. I'm thinking of making reservations for the Washington Monument for when we first get to DC, so that if we have to rebook, we have a better chance of rebooking the next day or 2.

As for the National Archives, reservations are needed whether you're taking a guided tour or doing a self guided tour. Is it worth taking a guided tour, or should we just go for the self guided tour? Any input would be appreciated.
pichulita is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 10:54 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
Reservations are not required for the Archives.
Anonymous is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 12:05 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 80
I've never heard of them closing the the Washington Monument due to winds -- it's 555 feet tall, but solid. Go later in the day for best light on the capitol. And be sure to bring ID to get into the Archives. I've only been once and that was to do some genealogy research. One of these days I'll have to take advantage of company visiting and do the tour with them.
BTW, you've picked the best time of year to visit, weather wise!
SoloNoMo is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 01:12 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
We live in the D.C. area but had never taken our kids to the Archives, the Capitol or the Washington Monument, so we did a "Vacation Day in D.C." last summer and included all of those places.
First, I know for a fact that they close the Washington Monument whenever thunderstorms are in the area because that happened to us. The rain had stopped by the time of our tour, but according to the Weather Bureau, thunderstorms were still in the area so we could not take the tour to the top at the assigned time. The park ranger said that we could be accomodated once the Monument re-opened, but we had tickets for something else, so we could not stay. Since thunderstorms are a real possibility any afternoon in the summer here, I would suggest you book your tour of the Washington Monument early in the day.
Second, you do not need to have a reservation to tour the Archives, but if you don't, you are in line with everyone else trying to get inside. You should be able to arrange a reservation through the office of your Representative (as we did). That allows you to enter the building through a special entrance and you go to the head of the line for security. Once you are inside the building, you must still wait in line to view the Declaration of Independence, etc. but we saved a lot of time by not having to wait in the general admission line.
Third, if you want to visit the Capitol, you might also want to get a special tour through the office of your Representative. They now have a new Capitol Visitor's Center that gets the general admission lines out of the heat or rain, but you still have to wait for a tour. If you do a tour from your Representative's office, you'll have an assigned time to meet. We did this and it was great.
longhorn55 is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 01:20 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 80
Ahh, lightning! That makes sense!
SoloNoMo is offline  
Jan 10th, 2009, 04:53 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 757
You can purchase your tickets in advance for the Washington Monument through the Parks Dept. The day we went, a cpl years ago, it wasn't too crowded as the weather was not all that great but I've heard that they often sell out. It's nice to purchase in adavnce as you get to pick the time you want to go up. Enjoy!
SiteC_er is offline  
Jan 11th, 2009, 05:42 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 112
I purchased my Monument tickets in advance and picked the first tour of the day. It was a LOT less crowded and easy to get in and out. Don't worry about lighting, you can't get good pictures from the top anyways with the thick, grainy windows. I had a guided tour of the archives and liked it, found it very informative.
Vivid01 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 08:28 AM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 66
Thank you, everyone, for all of your input. If anyone else has anything to add, I'm open for further suggestions.

Vivid01, It's a good idea to book the first tour of the day for the Washington Monument...in which month did you go?

pichulita is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 11:21 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 113
Buy online. Book the first tour of the day. Even though you will have a receipt you printed online, you will need to go to the bookstore where they sell tickets and pick up your tickets. No need to stand in line but go to the bookstore salesperson. I had my receipt and waited at the monument until I realized I had to go down and get tickets. No signs tell you this.
AttyWSW is offline  
Jan 12th, 2009, 06:59 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 112
I was there during July.
Vivid01 is offline  
Jan 13th, 2009, 07:22 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 196
We went to D.C. last July and we reserved tickets ahead of time for the Washington Monument. I would recommend doing that as most times before we left booked up. We got one of the first tours of the day and it worked well with crowds, etc. If the Archives are important to you, I would strongly suggest you book in advance. I was not prepared for the crowds out front just to get into the building as we didn't look into it far enough in advance. We were told the line was roughly two hours each time we went and we tried in both the morning and afternoon. I was disappointed that we missed out on that. Have a great trip!
rockie is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 10:52 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2
Rockie - how would you say it was overall visiting in July? It is the only time we can go and are planning to go for a week with our 4 kids. Were the crowds and heat just miserable? We are mostly interested in the museums and will be able to take our time. Just wondering what you thought about July?
travelinmama is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 10:54 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 25,349
July in DC is brutal, but you'll survive and enjoy the trip. The museums are air-conditioned. If it's too hot to walk, take the Tourmobile. Stay out of the direct sun as much as possible. Carry a bottle of water with you everywhere!
sf7307 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 01:43 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
Do outdoor things (monuments, zoo) early or late in the day, to avoid sun and crowds.
Anonymous is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 05:36 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 196
It was definitely hot in July but not a deal breaker for me. I think the biggest thing for us was not overdoing it. We are usually running around to see everything on vacation, but the heat combined with the fact it was our first trip with our baby girl (4 1/2 mos at the time), we decided to be okay with going a little slower. We didn't do everything on our list, but had a great time. One afternoon when the heat was getting to us, we just decided to go back to the hotel, enjoy the rooftop pool and rest. It ended up being one of our memorable moments with our daughter. As far as crowds were concerned, it wasn't as bad as I expected during the actual visit. But, I would try to get tickets to attractions ahead of time if possible because things did sell out prior to going. You just have to expect that it might be slow going at times. We did the Holocaust Museum one morning and the crowds combined with the heavy material about did me in.
rockie is offline  
Jan 20th, 2009, 05:47 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 257
We also went in late July about four years ago with three children. We were lucky that there was a hurricane brewing in the Atlanta and it brought us lots of cloud cover (no rain). Otherwise, there is very little food and water in the Mall area. A few street vendors. So carry water for everyone and a few fruit snacks or crackers. It will help energize the little ones. We started early, early every day and had reservations everywhere possible. It was a great trip and very memorable for my kids. They loved it! we ended our vacation with a stop in Williamsburg and a trip to Busch Gardens for all their patience!
mommybryant is offline  
Jan 21st, 2009, 04:58 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 2
Thanks for the replies. Yes we are used to heat in Atlanta and really don't mind that. As for bringing food and drinks in a backpack along each day - Is that a problem going in the museums? I think the advice to take it slow is good!
travelinmama is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:39 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 257
I dont remember a problem. Just kept the snacks and water in my backpack and it went through security just fine.
mommybryant is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:37 AM.