I tried for awhile to write this review and couldn't find the attraction anywhere on Trip Advisor. I finally emailed them - it's because they have the wrong title! It's the GEORGE Washington Masonic Memorial, and boy is it all about George. There are so many memorials in Washington, this one is easy to overlook but what a cool place it is. It sits up on a hill at the top of King Street in Alexandria. Easy access by metro from anywhere (King Street Station), or by foot from Old Town. The view from the top of the stairs is excellent, but has nothing on the view from the observation deck - 360 degree views including DC. Awesome!
First, we happened t be there at opening time - 10:00 - which also corresponded with the first tour. (I believe the tours are at 10:00, 11:30, 1:30 and 3:00 - but check just to make sure.) We were planning on the $5 walk around but decided on a whim on the $8 tour which was a guided tour and included the observation deck. Excellent choice! (Apparently, no discounts except for children.)
The tour guide was very informative, and actually is a Mason. The information on the Masons, the founding fathers and specifically George Washington and the monument itself was fascinating. Like how they wouldn't take out a loan to build it so built it in sections when they had the money - perhaps a financial management lesson for us all. Yes, the clipping of George's hair was a bit odd, but I guess it was something they did at the time - all the better to appreciate that we don't do it now. The information about the numerous groups related in some way to the Masons was pretty cool. Some I had heard of, some I had not and some were really intriguing - Veiled Prophets anyone? The elevators are a neat thing to see as they start off on different sides of the building and end up just a few feet from each other -meaning, they go up at an angle. We couldn't feel it but apparently some people can. The observation deck takes you outside - you can walk all the way around and enjoy the expansive view. It was a bit cold and windy but it was December so to be expected.
After the tour ends, you can wander in certain parts, peak in certain rooms and visit the gift shop. I was a bit disappointed in the gift shop, it's not as touristy as some, but if you want books on George or the Masons, or Masonic materials it probably has what you want. And we got lost in the hallways until we noticed the little directional signs periodically posted on the walls pointing to the parking lot.
We stumbled into this memorial and we were impressed and plan to return. There were children on the tour who seemed to enjoy it - in the 7 or 8 and above range. A lot of the tour is spent wandering around exhibits and reading captions, labels and short information tags so bring your glasses.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.