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Washington Monument and Smithsonian sites reopen, with limit on visitors

People returning to the Washington Monument, with a ranger pointing at the building.
Rangers wear face masks at the Washington Monument, which reopened Oct. 1.
(Sarah Silbiger / Getty Images)

Things might seem awry in Washington, D.C., but many of the city’s landmarks are returning to what resembles normal these days. Places such as the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials as well as parks in the Capitol Hill area are open. Many Smithsonian museums have reopened with extra cleaning protocols and face coverings/social distancing rules in place; others, such as the private Phillips Collection, are closed but encourage virtual visits.

Tours of the Capitol, FBI and other buildings remain canceled. Here’s what you can expect if you travel to the capital.

  • The Washington Monument reopened Oct. 1. Four to eight people share the elevator to the top, where they have 10 minutes to enjoy the view before the ride down. You need timed tickets (good for up to four individuals traveling together) available at 10 a.m. Eastern time the day before you want to visit. Admission is free but expect to pay $1.50 per ticket in nonrefundable reservation fees. Also, the elevator is closed from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. each day for cleaning. Find tickets here.
  • Smithsonian Museums have reopened on limited days. For example, the American Art Museum/National Portrait Gallery is open 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Check each museum for opening times. To visit, you must reserve a free timed ticket in advance. Find out more information here.
  • The National Zoo, also a Smithsonian site, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Free timed tickets are required. Visitors can walk in with a free ticket or pay $30 for a parking pass (which also requires a reservation). Order tickets here.
  • Fall visitors are able to stroll the National Mall without tickets, touring the Enid A. Haupt Garden and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden.

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