Five hundred and fifty-five feet of monolithic tribute, the monument to our first president stands in the center of the Mall like a watchtower over the city. For most, a casual stroll by will be enough to take in its height (impressive), its location (enviable), and the lines to get inside (long). The view from the top is as lofty a vantage point over Washington as you’ll get without boarding a plane—and seen through the small, thick, tank-style windows, a bit unreal; the White House, Capitol, Lincoln Memorial, and Virginia-bound commuter traffic look like toys in LEGOLAND.
Tip: On the elevator ride down, some of the 19th-century commemorative plaques installed on the inner wall when the monument was constructed are briefly visible—stick close to the doors for the best view.
Admission: Free, with timed ticket from kiosk east of the monument’s base.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.