I might have a vacation to DC in the next few months, and I have a couple of questions:
I have read that you can schedule a guided tour down the stairs of the Washington monument. Is this still available, and how do you sign up for it?
I have also read that you can get a guided tour (or at least a look-see) at the back of the Lincoln Memorial to see the interesting (well, to some of us, anyway) formations of minerals/sediments (don’t recall exactly how it was worded, but I gathered it was similar to stalagmites and stalactites). Is that still the case, and how do you sign up for it?
I took the Washington Monument tour down the stairs several years ago. If I remember correctly, it was weekends at 10:00 and 2:00. I don’t know if they still do it, though. The National Parks Service page for the Washington Monument doesn’t mention it. There’s a phone number for visitor information, though, call it and find out.
I know there are other things to see inside the monument but “guided tour down the stairs” just brings up images of this:
“If you look down and to your left you’ll see the first step leading down the monument. And just beyond that, you’ll notice the second step. And that just over there, as you may have already guessed, is the third step on our tour.” (Repeat 890 times)
The best tours of DC are scheduled through your Congressmans or Senators office and are done during the week. Permission to take the WH tour, however, seems to now be limited to large cash GOP donors or constituents of long-term GOP yes men’s districts.
There is a nice gift-shop building with exhibits 1/2 block away however. Just try not to notice that the picture of every single Democratic President is presented in smaller scale than the picture of Condi Rice.
As part of the fundraising effort to build the monument, groups donated commemorative carved stones, and they put those on the inside. There aren’t many in the top half, but there are lots at the bottom. Several are from states and cities. I remember one from the Philadelphia Fire Department that had a relief carving of one of their firefighting wagons. That sort of thing.
I used to live a few hours away and drove to D.C. once every couple of months. I made a special effort to get to this tour. I got there with five minutes to spare, and was worried that it would already be full. Nope, I was the only one there. The ranger convinced one family to join us when they found out they could cut to the front of the line for the elevator.
Now, what’s the point of this gratuitous, and false, swipe at (presumably) the Bush administration? My family toured the White House last year, and we live in New York City - 2 Dem Senators, my Congressperson is a Dem. No problem getting on the tour, and on relatively short notice as well, they told us. Oh, and we don’t donate politically, either.
I guess because, swipe or no, its 100% true as far as my family and I are concerned. We were denied without valid reason less than 2 months ago… and my Congressman’s people were working on it hard for a good 4 months before the trip. As far as reporting goes, I guess that would make me a primary source.
As far as gratuitous, I’ll let posterity judge that administration.
Earl, I think you and I live in the same district and you might have missed my GQ thread - I called Clyburn and Graham’s offices and they told me White House tours are all six months out. I’m not sure if that meant there’s no space or that they just can’t get them. On the other hand, Capitol tours can essentially be arranged any time, and we’re doing one of those on the 28th. Any time I wanted, and if my dad’s coming they’ll do a special route if he needs a wheelchair. I didn’t ask about the Washington Monument because I did it as a high schooler and it wasn’t so awesome I feel the need to do it again, and I think Lincoln pretty much explains itself.
I wouldn’t take a damned thing from De Mint, so I didn’t call his office.
Yeah. Actually, though, I was specifically looking for these kinda oddball tours. It looks as though the walk-down from the Washington Monument–if it’s even still an option–won’t fit into our time frame.
And here’s what I have about the “underground tour” of the Lincoln Memorial:
–The American Express Pocket Guide to Washington DC (1987)
Thanks for the responses. Some follow-up info if anyone is interested:
They do still do the Washington Monument stairway tours, but will not be offering any until October. Maybe they wait until the weather starts cooling off.
They do not do the Lincoln Memorial crypt tours anymore, and haven’t for a long time. The park ranger said, “It’s really nasty down there, and they had found asbestos. “
If you’re looking for a really oddball tourist experience, check out the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Part military history, part gross anatomy (and I do mean gross), it essentially traces the history of military and civilian medicine. It is absolutely not for the squeamish, but it’s a museum experience unlike any other in Washington.
If you’re looking for oddball or unusual tours, I’d recommend the Washington Walks tours. Even the locals go (I was one), and the guides are really great… very knowledgeable. You’ll get a lot of backdoor D.C. trivia.
And I’d second the recommendation to see the monuments at night, especially the FDR (my favorite). It’s much more personal, probably because you don’t have to deal with the crowds.