Updated June 16, 2020.
It’s tour time in D.C.! Well, it’s basically always tour time in D.C. And for that reason, there are some tours you must–I repeat–MUST request in advance! Here’s a quick list of the most coveted tours and all the details on exactly how to request each one.
The White House
The most coveted, particular, and difficult tour to get in D.C., you will need to request this tour through your congresspeople four months in advance. For all the details, check out The Best Way to Visit the White House.
The FBI Experience
Once one of the “Big 3” tours in D.C., FBI tours ceased entirely after 9/11. They have only just restarted as of July 2017, and I can attest it is one of the best museums in town! This can be arranged through your congresspeople, and should be booked no less than two weeks in advance. However, I recommend requesting the tour two months in advance, and be flexible with the dates and times you’re available. For more, check out How to Tour the FBI Experience.
The Treasury Department
Not to be confused with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing! This tour is not as difficult to get, but it’s only offered on Saturdays, so it’s much more specific than the rest. I recommend requesting this tour through your congresspeople at least two months in advance. For details, check out How to Tour the Treasury Department.
The State Department
This was an incredibly interesting tour! If you love history, international affairs, or antiques, this is the tour for you. And even if you’re not a fan of those things, you might surprise yourself with how much you’ll enjoy this tour. This one you can book on your own through the State Department’s website. Book at least two months in advance. All the details are here for you: How to Tour the U.S. State Department.
The U.S. Capitol
The Capitol Building is high on everyone’s list, and lucky for all, this is one of the easiest tours to get! To have the best tour, request it through your congressperson’s office. You’ll get gallery passes to see the House and Senate Chambers, and you may even get to meet your Congressperson. For all the details, The Right Way to Visit the U.S. Capitol.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Not to be confused with the Treasury Department mentioned above, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) is where they make the money! It’s a very fun tour and great for kids, so book your tickets through your congressperson’s office two months in advance. If you’re also requesting a tour of the White House, the congressperson’s tour scheduler may wait until you hear whether your White House tour comes through or not before scheduling and confirming your BEP tour.
Ford’s Theatre and the Petersen House
Ford’s Theatre and the Petersen House just across the street are hot tickets in the District. You won’t need to go through your congressperson for this one, but to ensure you get the date and time you want, you’ll want to reserve tickets one month in advance, and possibly earlier if you’re coming in the spring or summer. Reserving tickets online is $3.00 each.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
You will only need advance tickets for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum from March-August. Tickets are free, but there is a $1 fee per ticket for reserving online. Tickets can be reserved three to six months in advance. There are some same-day tickets set aside that can be reserved online or obtained at 9:45am each day outside the museum.
National Museum of African American History and Culture
This one’s a little tricky! Tickets are free but go quickly, so you should set a calendar reminder for exactly two months before the day you want to visit. If you miss your opportunity, you can try again for same-day tickets online. All the details and links to request tickets are here: A Guide to DC’s Smithsonian Museums.
It’s true! You, too, can tour the largest office building in the world! You will have to undergo a background check, so this tour must be requested between 90-14 days before your requested date. Tour slots fill up quickly, so I do not recommend waiting until the last minute! Your step-by-step guide and what to expect are here: How to Tour the Pentagon.
Washington Nationals Stadium
This is one of the most fun tours in D.C.! Pro tip: Go on a non-game day so you can visit all the sites on the tour. You’ll see the super premium boxes, go on the field, visit the bullpen, and best of all: throw a pitch! Find all the details, including how to get your tickets, in my post: How to Tour Nationals Stadium!
Other tours to think about requesting in advance are the National Archives (or request early admission and a tour with your Congressperson), and the Bible Museum. When I go through those processes and take those tours, I will add them to this post!
Are you ready to plan your D.C. trip? Check out all the posts about my adopted hometown on my Washington, D.C. Page!
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