Paris has the Eiffel Tower and New York City has the Empire State Building. Washington D.C. has the Washington Monument. It’s one of those structures you see almost anywhere from town. It ends up being your compass point as you travel around to help you keep your bearings.
To take an elevator ride to the top, you have to get a free ticket for a specific time, but get there early, as they go fast. But don’t hurry. It’s closed right now for a thorough assessment after the August 23, 2011 earthquake. In the meantime, you can always go to the bigger one in Texas, the San Jacinto Monument. It’s almost 15 feet taller at 570 feet!