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D.C. Government Attractions Update

U.S. Capitol Tours

Guided tours of the U.S. Capitol Building, the meeting chambers of the legislative branch of U.S. government - the House of Representatives and the Senate - are conducted from 9:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, including federal holidays and excluding Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November) and Christmas Day (December 25).

The Capitol’s 19th century neoclassical architecture, dome and the rotunda will leave visitors awestruck. Many see it largely as a symbolic structure until they come inside and discover it’s also an American art and history museum. There are interesting and unique aspects throughout the building, including the black and white marble-tiled National Statuary Hall (The Old Hall of the House) with its challenging acoustics.

Visitors must obtain free tickets for tours on a first-come, first-serve basis beginning at 9:00 a.m. each morning at the southwest corner of the front of the Capitol as it faces the National Mall. Groups may reserve tickets in advance by contacting their Congressional representative. The maximum group tour size is 40 people per half-hour and each individual of any age must have a ticket.

As an FYI, the Capitol Visitor Center, currently under construction, is slated for completion in early 2009. Stay tuned.

U.S. Capitol Building

Capitol Service Guide Kiosk - First Street SW and Independence Avenue
Capitol Hill at the east end of the National Mall
Washington, DC 20515

White House Visitor Center

The visitor center showcases many aspects of the White House - its first families, history, architecture, furnishings, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders. A 30-minute video is shown. Allow between 20 minutes and 1-1/2 hours.

It’s not like being invited to stay overnight in the Lincoln Bedroom, but it’s as close as most of us will ever get.

Open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except Thanksgiving Day (the last Thursday in November), Christmas Day (December 25) and New Year’s Day (January 1).

White House Visitor Center
U.S. Department of Commerce Building
1450 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20230
(202) 208-1631

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, comprised of three buildings, is the largest library in the world and serves as a research arm for Congress. When you consider all the responsibilities of the library, the volumes of books, maps, manuscripts, photographs and recordings, and the incredible exhibits, speakers, events and collections, this is quite a massive knowledge bank.

The library is open Monday through Saturday, except federal holidays. Public tours are offered in the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30, 2:30, and 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Tours are free and reservations are not required. Group tours are available by reservation only.

Library of Congress
10 First Street SE
Washington, DC 20540-4990
(202) 707-8000

The National Archives
The National Archives is now open after a major renovation. For the first time, visitors can view all four pages of the U.S. Constitution, as well as the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights. Other exhibits are also presented. An American history quiz will immediately following the viewing. --Just kidding.

Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except Christmas (December 25), with extended hours during spring and summer. Free. Group tours by appointment only: (202) 501-5205.

National Archives
Constitution Avenue NW
Between Seventh and Ninth Streets
Washington, DC 20408
(202) 357-5000

The Supreme Court

The judicial branch of the federal government is called The Supreme Court. The building is currently open and free to the public. Lectures in the courtroom are typically given every hour on the half-hour (only when court is not in session), on days that the court is not sitting, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m. Reservations are not required.

Tradition is an important part of The Supreme Court as is evidenced by quill pens, black robes and the conference handshake.

The Supreme Court of the United States
First Street and Maryland Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20543
(202) 479-3211

*Tour times subject to change.

Washington, D.C. Convention
and Tourism Corporation

901 Seventh Street NW 4th Floor
Washington, DC 20001-3719
(202) 789-7000

Photo Courtesy: Capitol Building by Day - Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation (WCTC)