tour is tough to book no matter how far in advance you
try. There are a limited number of tours available, and
there seems to be no clear-cut system toward booking them.
You'll need to visit your Congressman's Web site (or call)
to request tickets. Then keep your fingers crossed. We
requested 7 tickets for our party four months in advance.
Despite that, we were only able to obtain four tickets.
White House Tours
The tour is pretty cool, although not as cool as it used
to be. Years ago, you had a tour guide to walk you into
each room, and explain the details and history of the
room. Today's tours are self guided with signs providing
a bit of details about the rooms. Although there is a
Secret Service agent in each room to answer any questions,
it's just not the same as it used to be. Also, there are
no cameras allowed anywhere in the facility.
you can just go to the Capitol Building and wait in a
long line for a tour, you're better off obtaining tickets
in advance through your Congressman (as detailed above).
You'll get a walking tour of many parts of the complex
including the old Supreme Court Chambers, the Rotunda,
and even the House & Senate chambers.
We even got to sit up in the balcony while the House
of Representatives was in session! This tour can easily
last a couple of hours (depending on your guide) and will
be filled with lots of interesting stories.
No Washington D.C. vacation is complete without a short
walk to the end of the reflecting pool and the Lincoln
Memorial. Climb the steps to the top to see the giant
statue of 'Honest Abe'. See some famous Lincoln quotes-
including the Gettysburg Address etched into the stone.
Take a walk around the perimeter to see each state engraved
into the facade, and don't miss the great views from the
top of the steps.
case you didn't know, The Smithsonian is actual several
museums- not just one! You'll want to visit the Air &
Space Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the American
History Museum are three museums you won't want to miss.
You can see the Apollo Lunar Module, the Hope Diamond,
and Dorothy's ruby slippers during your visits. There
are 19 Smithsonian Museums & galleries in all, so you'll
need to pick and choose among the rest depending on your
Bureau of Engraving & Printing
is a very interesting tour of where our nation's currency
is made. You'll get to see real money being made and learn
all about how it's made. The tour lasts about an hour
but you'll need to get there early in the morning to get
tickets. You can only get tickets for the same day, and
the line begins forming around 6:00 a.m. Don't worry,
we didn't get there until 7:30 and were still able to
get tickets for the 11:00 a.m. tour.
is a really neat tour offering great views of Washington
D.C. and the surrounding areas. There are maps by each
of the windows with the major attractions labeled to give
you an idea of what you're seeing. In the 'old days' you
used to have to take the steps to the top. Now, the steps
are closed and it's a nice cool elevator ride to the top.
You'll learn some interesting facts about the monument
on the way up and down.
Arlington National Cemetery
National Cemetery contains the remains of over 300,000
American veterans dating back to the American Revolution.
Although visiting the cemetery is free, there is a charge
for the bus tours (which are highly recommended). You'll
see the Tomb of the Unknowns, The Eternal Flame (JFK's
grave), visit Robert E. Lee's house and more. Arlington
National Cemetery is very moving and highly recommended
nobody would ever call this a 'fun attraction', no visit
to Washington D.C. is complete without a trip to the Vietnam
Memorial. This short solemn walk will move you whether
or not you knew anyone who died in the conflict. Nearly
60,000 names are inscribed in the black granite which
is actually two walls (East/West) each about 250 feet
is a very interesting tour where you can see the Declaration
of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights,
the Magna Carta, and many other historically significant
documents. The main tour consists of a large round room
in the main main chamber of the National Archives called
the "Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom". You can walk
around at will for as long as you want.
documents are arranged in a circle around the outside
of the room. A new group is let in every 10-15 minutes
so it can get crowded if many people stay longer than
that. Usually, it's not too bad. You can also see a worthwhile
presentation in the theater of the archive building. This
is a short video explaining the history of the National
Archives, its purpose, and details surrounding the many
documents stored there.
More Washington D.C. vacation information:
D.C. vacation overview
D.C. vacation planning
to do in Washington D.C.