The White House is always a must-see attraction when visiting Washington, D.C. with kids. However, viewing the President’s home through a large fence may not be as gratifying as if you could get an insider’s perspective. Many families might not be aware, but you can tour the White House, and for free! Here’s how to do it on your next trip to the nation’s capital.
Request a Tour Through Congress
Families who want to take a public tour of the White House need to first submit a letter of request to their Member of Congress. Include your name, address and contact information in the request, as well as the dates that you plan to visit Washington, D.C. Requests must be submitted at least 21 days in advance, but no more than six months in advance of your planned visit. Families are urged to write to their Member of Congress as soon as they can. Visit the House of Representatives website to find your state’s representative and their contact information. For families who wish to see the White House, but who are visiting from another country, can contact their nation’s embassy office in Washington D.C. to request a public tour.
Have Valid Identification
Adults and children 18 years and older are required to present a valid, government-issued photo ID before touring the White House. Valid ID’s include driver’s licenses, military ID’s and passports.
Know What Not to Bring
Certain items are prohibited during tours of the White House. These include cameras or recording devices; handbags, backpacks and purses; food and beverages; tobacco products; personal grooming items; strollers; any pointed object; aerosol containers; fireworks and weapons of any kind. We suggest leaving everything in the car or hotel room except for your forms of ID, money and cell phones prior to your visit. Note: Cell phones cannot be used inside the White House and the U.S. Secret Service has the right to confiscate them as needed. Silence them before the tour, but keep them handy incase anyone gets lost.
Public tours of the White House are offered Tuesday through Thursday, from 7: 30 to 11:30 a.m., and Friday and Saturday, from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tours are not available on federal holidays, unless otherwise noted. Hours will be extended when possible. Tours are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Prepare With a Virtual Tour
After you’ve scheduled your tour, prepare the kids with a virtual tour via the White House website. Enjoy 360-degree views of the rooms that are featured on the public tour. It will get children excited for when they can see them in person.
– Hilarey Wojtowicz