Updated July 7, 2020.
It’s Museum Monday! This week I’m letting you in on a bit of a secret: You can tour the U.S. State Department’s Diplomatic Rooms! Well, maybe it’s not a secret, but it’s definitely something most people don’t know or think of when they visit Washington, D.C. My friend Kelly and I recently took a tour ourselves, and I’m letting you in on the process so you can plan to visit, too!
Know Before You Go
- you must request this tour within 90 days of your desired tour date
- You will be touring the official Diplomatic Rooms; do not touch or sit on anything
- Not recommended for children 12 or younger
- You can book the tour for someone else; under the “Contact Person” section of the tour request page, there is a box to check if the contact person is going on the tour or not
- Tours are offered Monday-Friday at 9:30am, 10:30am, and 2:45pm
- Tours are 45 minutes long
- Strollers, briefcases, backpacks, large purses, computers, and packages are not permitted
- Two Security officers will be accompanying your tour
- Your FitBit or other blue-tooth connecting devices must be turned off–sorry, those steps won’t count, but don’t worry because your body will still know
Related: D.C. Tours to Request in Advance
When I first tried booking my tour, the website was down. If that happens to you, fear not! You can e-mail TourOffice@state.gov to request your tour, and they will get back to you in a timely manner. The tour coordinator was very friendly and helpful, which I would never expect in D.C., to be honest. But try this first:
Step 1: Visit https://diplomaticrooms.state.gov/tours/ and “Click Here”
Here you will find details about when you can request a tour. Click on “click here” to go to the next step.
Step 2: Read the Rules and Regulations
This is very important because if you don’t do it right, you won’t get a tour at all! Read the rules, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click “here” to fill out the online form.
Step 3: Fill Out the Online Form
Unless you are bringing a large group, you will need to select “Individual” from the “Request Type” field. Fill in your requested tour date and time, and all the personal information with a red asterisk next to it. Don’t forget to check the “Will Be Attending Tour” box below the Last Name field if you are also planning to attend the tour. Fill out the names of anyone else in your party in the fields below, then click “Submit.”
If you are bringing a large group that exceeds the number of “Other Attendee” fields, send an e-mail to TourOffice@state.gov.
Step 4: Wait for Approval and Confirmation E-mails
Now the waiting game! I received my approval and confirmation e-mails minutes apart on the same day I submitted my request, but be patient. Your e-mails may take a day or two to come in, depending on the time of year and how busy they are. The e-mails will tell you when and where to meet, as well as instructions for the day of your tour.
Step 5: Get Ready for Your Tour
Do not forget your ID! This can be a passport, driver’s license, or other government-issued identification. You will have to leave backpacks, large bags, and brief cases elsewhere, but you will not be allowed on the tour without identification. The security officers were on their game, but also very kind–probably the nicest of any agency or government building I’ve toured. Be prepared to go through a metal detector and put your belongings through a security scanner similar to what you’d expect to see at an airport. This is common around D.C., and especially at government agencies.
Related: D.C. Tours You Never Knew You Could Take
This was one of the most pleasant tours I’ve ever been on–and I’ve been on and given a lot of tours! Our tour guide was fabulous, and I cannot stress to you how beautiful these Diplomatic Rooms are. You will begin your tour on the 8th floor, and when the elevator doors open, be prepared to be astounded at the stunning early American architecture, design, and furnishings. Each room is decorated with authentic antiques, works of art, and pieces of history! Here are a few of the things you’ll be able to see on your tour. Please enjoy them!
I hope you’re ready for your own tour of the State Department! Are you interested in taking the tour? Have more questions? Comment below! And check out my Washington, D.C., Page for everything you need to know for your trip and more!
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7 thoughts on “How to Tour the U.S. State Department”
LOVING all your Washington DC posts – traveling in 13 days with my 2 teenage boys and am soaking up all your advice! Thank you!
You are SO welcome! Feel free to ask any questions you may have! You’re here at the best time of year–everything is open but there are way fewer people to compete with! Have so much fun!
I’m struggling to pack in a tour of the State Dept….I am not sure we can swing it given our other already scheduled tours (FBI, Capitol, Pentagon). This might be one we have to skip, even though I did get confirmation email for a time slot.
Wow! Good for you getting approved for all those already! I love it when people are on the ball–there are so many great things to do in D.C. that require advanced planning. If you can fit it in, I highly recommend it, but it sounds like you are covering a ton of bases!
Thank you so much for taking the time to post this info! I’ve recently moved to DC for a short contract and didn’t know these more obscure tours existed. I’ve now booked several of them!
I’m so glad! I have a post coming out on Thursday of “Tours You Never Knew You Could Take”! Stay tuned! 🙌 Love that you’re making the most of your time here!