Tips for Getting a White House Tour

I’ve had the opportunity to visit Washington DC three separate times over the past two years. It wasn’t until our third visit that I was actually able to get a tour of the White House. Read below to see tips on getting inside and things you should plan ahead for.

Start by looking at this website to get information and details for a White House visit. The first time I tried getting us a tour, I followed the steps on the website and never heard back from anyone. I realized my mistake, we were going over a long weekend and the White House only has tours on certain days during the week (Tuesday-Thursdays from 7:30 am-11:30 am and Fridays/Saturdays from 7:30 am-1:30 pm). So essentially, we would’ve only been able to get a tour for Saturday and I am sure that’s probably a busy day!

The second time I tried, we were visiting DC over Thanksgiving break. This is an absolute amazing week for a visit, the business in the city shuts down for the holiday and hotels are very reasonably priced. Read here to see more information about our Thanksgiving trip. However, you will NOT get into the White House during this week because they close all tours for Christmas decorating.

The third time I was set to visit DC I was determined to get us into the White House. And the funny part is, I was actually visiting Colonial Williamsburg over spring break but figured I was close enough to DC (2 hour drive) and decided I would try. So, I went back to the website and filled out the information needed. I also decided to give the old phone a try and I actually made a call to our local representative and worked with him over several weeks to get a tour scheduled. And fortunately for us, it worked!

Things to Know:

· You need to request a tour 3-6 months before your visit, but you typically won’t find out if you’ve been approved until 2 weeks before your visit.

· Requests are made through your Member of Congress – click on link to find your representative

·       The White House website will give you more information

·       Call your representative – they want to help you get a tour and are really great to work with!

·       You MUST bring specific items for your tour or you will NOT be allowed access inside the White House – you will either have to pick up or will be mailed a “boarding pass” for entrance. Adults will also need a government issued I.D. with a photo (driver’s license or passport)

·       You are not allowed to bring a bag of any size, including purses

·       You can bring your cell phone, but no other cameras

·       You will go through several different checkpoints in various places before you can enter. The officers working these checkpoints are very friendly, but mean business. They ask you questions, like your full name and birthday, and will also ask your kids – no matter their age, so be sure to review this with them!

·       Be prepared to arrive early for your tour and to wait in lines to get in – these lines are all outdoors, so plan accordingly. There are also NO restrooms available for anyone to use!

·       Once inside, the tour is self-directed and there are only a few places that you will have access to.

·       The secret service agents inside are very friendly and most will interact with you and answer any questions that you have

·       Have fun, enjoy the visit, and take tons of pictures!

·       There is a White House Museum across the street that you can visit after your tour – the Park Rangers at the White House will tell you about it before you go inside!

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