Crowds, Washington D.C.
Tickets are timed, and there is always a ridiculously long line, and to be truthful you can see the Washington Monument from just about any major road in D.C....not to mention if you fly in or out of the National Airport. No need to take the elevator up. Save your time and money for a more worthwhile activity.
Unique Suggestions: Visiting the Washington Monument is a worthwhile experience, just don't bother with the elevator.
Fun Alternatives: Explore the National Mall at your own leisurely pace and don't waste time waiting around for boring tours or trips up elevators.
This shop is actually located INSIDE the Memorial, and it's about the size of a shoebox. Thousands of people visit the Lincoln Memorial each day, and it is not pretty when they try to cram into that tiny place all at once. Trust me, and just skip this one. There are better places to buy souvenirs.
Unique Suggestions: Okay, you never HAVE to go to the gift shop. So just don't go.
Fun Alternatives: Shop for souvenirs in Old Town instead.
As the seat of our national democracy, Washington DC is a frequent scene of protests and rallys. While rarely dangerous, the crowds can be overwhelming.
Unique Suggestions: Keep an eye on the local news so you are prepared for protests when they happen. Sometimes you'll want to go around, other times you'll want to go through. Who knows, maybe you'll learn somthing interesting.
People wait hours to go to the top of the Washington Monument.
Unique Suggestions: The good news is that in nice weather, there will always be frisbee and soccer players and joggers to watch while you wait. Arrive early to get your ticket.
Fun Alternatives: I understand the view from the top of the Old Post Office Pavillion (located at 12th and Pennsylvania Ave., NW, - Federal Triangle Metro Stop) is nearly as good without the wait.
Waiting in the long lines at the White House or Capitol Hill are tourist traps. Instead, contact your local Congress rep or Senator to request a VIP tour. You generally need to make these requests 6 months in advance, but you will get a much better tour of both places, they are free, and you will avoid the hour long lines.