This post is an article on how to get White House tour tickets.
We include tips on planning your visit, as well as a virtual tour to show you what you will see, all updated for 2023.
- GetTour Tickets
- Plan Your Visit
- Virtual Tour
- Visitor Center
- Things to Do in DC
- Free Tours by Foot
HOW TO SUBMIT A REQUEST FOR WHITE HOUSE TOUR TICKETS
The White House is open to public tours usually from 830am to 1230pm Tuesday-Saturday, except for Federal Holidays.
Reservations must be arranged in advance. It is hard to get a White House tour but the further in advance you request and the more flexibility you offer in dates, the better you chances.
There is no cost to tour the White House, but you will need to apply for free tickets. Both U.S. nationals and foreign visitors can tour the White House.
To visit the White House, it's important to know that you mustreserve your tickets in advance,MONTHS in advance.
You can submit a request for White House tours up to 3 months in advance and must do so no later than 3 weeks.
You can increase your odds of getting a White House tour by requesting a reservation as soon as you possibly can.
For U.S. citizens and residents, requests must go through the office of the Member of Congress for your district (find your Member here).
If you are coming during the peak tourism seasons of March-April or June-August, we recommend at least 3 months or more in advance to request the tickets.
If you are from a foreign country, you are advised to go through your embassy in Washington D.C. Not all embassies will be interested or helpful in the request.
However, nothing stops you from requesting a tour through any Member of Congress.
There is no real requirement that you be a resident of their district or state to do so. Therefore, it's worth a try.
Most will ask you for contact information at home and during your stay in DC, dates available for tours, and the total number of persons in your group.
You'll also be required to provide information for security clearance, including:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number (only U.S. residents 18 and older)
- City, State of Residence
As alternatives to touring inside the White House, we suggest the exterior Garden tours in the Spring and Fall. You can find out more about those in this article.
You may also want to take one of our tours that visit the White House to learn more about it from the outside!
- Lincoln Assassination
- White House at Night (Adults Only)
- National Mall (daytime only
You can also visit the White House Visitor Center. It's actually a few blocks from the White House, but it's a great alternative to interior tours.
You can always see the White House from the street, as well. There are a number of great views of the White House that we talk about - but the closest is from Pennsylvania Avenue NW by Lafayette Square.
How long before I hear back about my White House request?
Typically, once you have submitted your visitor info to your member of Congress’ office, you will receive an email two weeks before your requested dates that will confirm your White House tour, if you are approved for a tour.
If you do NOT get approved, the communication varies and depends. Some people have gotten rejection letters and some have just never heard back. Assume if you haven't heard back a few days prior to your trip that you were not approved.
In this section, we go over where to enter the White House grounds, how to get there, as well as security and prohibited items.
WHITE HOUSE TOUR ENTRANCE
We strongly recommend using our Google Map for directions to the tour entry point.
There is no White House Metro Station.
The closest metro stopto the tour entrance is Metro Center (red, orange, blue, and silver lines) (take the 13th Street exit), which is just a 7-minute walk.
When you come up the escalators, you will be facing 13th Street. Take 13th Street south (downhill) and make a right turn on E Street and proceed straight until you reach 15th Street.
McPherson Square Metro station (orange, blue, and silver lines)is also close to the White House.
Public transportation is recommended for reaching the White House.
If you must drive, you can find a parking spot at a nearby garage through a service called SpotHero.
This website allows you to reserve guaranteed parking spots ahead of time, often for a cheaper price than the garage itself would charge.
If you've been granted a tour, you need to arrive before your meeting time at the visitors' entrance.
Note: This is NOT at the Visitor Center.
The tour lines up along 15th Street NW on the west side of the street by the William Tecumseh Sherman Statue.
It's across the street from where Pennsylvania Avenue NW dead-ends at 15th St NW.
You'll check in with the National Park Service Park Ranger standing guard outside the temporary fence.
There is no specific street address or sign - you just have to know you're in the right place, but since there is often a line it should be easy to spot.
You can click on the 360-degree view to familiarize yourself with the surrounding area.
SECURITY AND PROHIBITED ITEMS
Security is a concern everywhere in Washington, but nowhere more than in the White House.
You will need a valid government-issued photo ID or passport to gain entry into the White House for every member of your group. Foreign nationals must use their passport.
You will have to stand in line for security, so make sure to arrive at least half an hour before your tour time. (longer in peak seasons, or with a group).
WHITE HOUSE DRESS CODE
There is no dress code to tour the White House, but due to the importance of the building, you should want to dress neatly.
The list of what you can’t bring into the White House is extensive:
- no video devices; video cameras including any action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods, and camera sticks are not permitted. Video recording is not permitted.
- no strollers.
- no food, beverages, tobacco products, liquids, gels, or lotions.
- no guns, firearms, knives, other sharp objects, martial arts equipment, etc.
- no purses, backpacks, handbags, etc. *If you need a place to store these kinds of items, some nearby hotel concierges may be willing to store the bags for a small fee.
The list of things you can bring to the White House is not extensive:
- cell phone
Cameras are now permitted on tour!
Smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches (stills only) are permitted on the public tour route as long as their use does not interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the tour.
Flash photography or live streaming as well as talking or texting on cellular phones is not permitted while on the tour.
Where can I leave the rest of my belongings while I tour the White House?
If you can't leave your belongings at your hotel, then consider storage facilities.
For $6/bag for up to 24 hours, you can store your bags in nearby stores, souvenir shops, and even other hotels.
Once you are inside, the tour is self-guided and will take about half an hour.
NOTE: There are no restrooms on the White House tour.
Though the White House has 132 rooms in total, you are only shown through several rooms that they use for entertaining.
You will NOT see the family living quarters, the Oval Office, or the West Wing.So, don't expect to meet President Joe Biden on your White House Tour.
Small tip: there are secret service agents in every room, you can interact with them and ask them questions, they are usually really nice and very informative.
After you line up along 15th Street, you'll have your reservation checked and then line up again for an ID check.
You'll cross a street and then have your ID checked again.
All of these checks are outdoors so keep that in mind when preparing for your visit - you're outside for around 30 minutes before your tour.
You then go through security to enter the East Wing of the White House.
What Will I See on a Public Tours of the White House?
The tour is self-guided though there are occasionally guards who can answer some questions.
Each room has a placard or two explaining what you're seeing with some information.
The tour is self-paced and you can go back if needed to previous rooms, but you will not be able to exit the building and reenter.
You will see the East Garden from the hallway, the movie theatre, the China Room, Vermeil Room, East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, and State Dining Room.
Throughout you'll also see a number of presidential portraits.
There is a gift shop inside the White House that sells the famous White House Christmas ornament and many other items from the White House Historical Association.
You'll exit the White House from what used to be the primary entrance facing the North Lawn and exit out the gates by the Lafayette Statue.
Will I See the President on a White House Tour?
You are unlikely to meet the President or First Lady on the White House tour, but you never know who you might see at the White House complex, including cabinet members or prominent visitors.
These videos offer virtual tours inside various parts of the White House that you do not get to see on White House public tours.
Inside the Residence
Tour of the West Wing
Video Tour of the Situation Room
There is a new app that allows you to see some of the majestic events that have happened on the White House grounds. All you need is a smartphone and a US $1 bill:
Learn About the West Wing Marines
Watch Marine One Land on South Lawn
You will see many helicopters during your visit to Washington, D.C. and they usually won't be transporting the President.
Most of the helicopters fly along the National Mall - over the Tidal Basin and Potomac River.
When you see three helicopters fly across the National Mall, right past the Washington Monument (that is why there are the red flashing lights on the top), one of those is Marine One.
So how do you watch Marine One take off/land?
For advance planning, you can keep an eye on the President's Schedule. It will give an approximate time when the president departs the South Lawn.
Keep in mind, it sometimes is early or late and they don't give any warning!
Marine One is often used to transport the President to Joint Base Andrews to board Air Force One.
If you're already in the area, you might notice some of the ways they prepare for Marine One:
- Snipers are always on the roof of the White House, but when the President is leaving the White House, you'll also see them on the corners of area buildings.
- Two decoy/escort helicopters will accompany Marine One but not land. You will always see a group of three helicopters.
- The walkway to the South Lawn fence is closed. While you're normally can walk right up to the South Lawn fence, they won't let you get that close when Marine One is landing.
Where to stand to watch Marine One land?
The best place to watch Marine One land if you want to be as close as possible is on the south side of the White House, an area called The Ellipse.
Normally, the circular sidewalk that forms the ellipse is open to the public but when the President is leaving - the side closest to the White House is closed.
You can, however, walk directly on the grass to the center of the Ellipse.
If you line yourself up with the Washington Monument behind you and the White House South Lawn Fountain in front of you, the helicopter will fly right over your head!
If you want to watch Marine One with some DC landmarks in the frame, stand at the WWII Memorial, facing the Washington Monument.
The three helicopters will fly in front of the Washington Monument lining up for a great photo op.
What kind of helicopter is Marine One?
Officially, any helicopter that the President is on is Marine One.
That is the call sign for any USMC aircraft that has the President on board, just like Air Force one denotes whatever plane is carrying the President.
It is usually operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1 "Nighthawks"), only four pilots have this honor every year.
The type of helicopter is often a VH-3D Sea King:
or the VH-60N "WhiteHawk"
Marine One helicopters have standard military anti-missile countermeasures, and ballistic armor and can continue to fly even if it loses one of the three engines.
It can fit 14 passengers but is quiet enough that the President can use a normal tone of voice on his secure line to the White House.
NOTE: A few times a year when the President is out of the country, you will see a helicopter take off and land on the South Lawn on repeat for about half an hour - this is training!
The President isn't actually on the helicopter - but your Instagram followers won't know that!
After an extensive revamping, theWhite House Visitor Center is now open again to the public.
Read our overview of the museum and visitor center for more information.
The restoration work took over 2 years and cost $12.5 million, much of which came from private donations through the White House Historical Association.
There are over 90 new artifacts on display, many of which have never before been on display.
Some of our favorites are the desk that Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat at when he delivered his famous fireside chats and a scaled model of the White House.
Within the White House Visitor Center, you can watch a 14-minute film that takes you inside the White House and the lives of the First Families.
Allow anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour for your visit here.
VISITOR TIP: The White House Visitor Center has a great gift shop. There is also a gift shop at 701 15th St NW called White House Gifts. Here can take a photo of yourself sitting behind a replica of the Presidential desk in the Oval Office!
- How to Get Tickets to the Washington Monument
- How to Tour the U.S. Capitol Building
- Can I tour the FBI Building?
- Watch Marine One Land on the White House Lawn
- White House Garden Tours
- White House Christmas Tours
- Easter Egg Roll
About The Author
Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell AllWith a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: April 17th, 2023
The White House is open to public tours usually from 830am to 1230pm Tuesday-Saturday, except for Federal Holidays. Reservations must be arranged in advance. It is hard to get a White House tour but the further in advance you request and the more flexibility you offer in dates, the better you chances.Are visitors allowed to tour the White House? ›
Public tours are typically available from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, excluding Federal holidays or unless otherwise noted. If your tour is confirmed, please note that you will be assigned a specific time.How do you get a White House tour as a DC resident? ›
Please email White House Tour requests to White HouseTours.NortonDC00EN@mail.house.gov and include the month of your requested tour date in the subject line (ex. WH Tour Request- Feb 2023).How close can you get to the White House without a tour? ›
While visitors are not allowed entry to the White House without requesting a tour through your congressional representative, you will still be able to see the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue NW at Lafayette Square and view the White House and the South Lawn from the Ellipse.Can you wear jeans to White House tour? ›
There is no set dress code for the White House. Since we were visiting multiple places on the day of our tour of the White House, we wore jeans. Visitors should plan on waiting in a line outside of the White House, prior to their tour, and should plan to dress for the weather outside.How long does a White House tour take? ›
Tours of the White House are self-guided, and typically last about 45 minutes in duration. The White House strongly encourages the use of public transportation, as street parking is not available near the White House.Can you tour the Oval Office? ›
Can you tour the Oval Office? White House tours do not include the Oval Office and tours of the West Wing are usually reserved for VIPs or guests of the president.Can you take pictures on White House tour? ›
Permitted Items: Phones and compact still cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches are allowed inside the White House. Photography is permitted but may not interfere with the enjoyment of other guests on the tour.Can you tour the Pentagon? ›
Pentagon tours are available on a limited basis for U.S. citizens on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Pentagon tour guides will conduct tours for up to 20 people during each time slot.Can you drive by the White House in Washington DC? ›
You can drive by the south side of the White House on Constitution Ave NW. If you go eastbound, the White House will be on your right and you won't be blocked by oncoming traffic. If you're driving westbound, it is on your left but you might find your view blocked by buses!
Discover the wonders of Washington, D.C., with Private DC Tours LLC, the premier provider of exceptional private sightseeing tours of the nation's capital.What do you wear to the White House? ›
If you are just getting the regular tour, then just wear your regular tourist clothes. If you are getting a private tour from the White House staff, then you need to dress up a bit more. It is a self-guided tour and you can ask questions of the folks guarding each room, so the time can vary.Do White House tours cost money? ›
Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. Requests can be submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. You are encouraged to submit your request as early as possible as a limited number of spaces are available. The White House tour is free of charge.What parts of the White House can you tour? ›
White House Tour Map
Visitors will see multiple rooms in the East Wing and Residence, including the State Dining Room, East Room, Blue Room, Red Room, Green Room, and the Family Theater. Guests will enter the White House complex from the south side of East Executive Avenue.
Location of the Yellow Oval Room on the second floor of the White House. A number of presidents used this as their private office or library. The Yellow Oval Room about 1868 used as President Andrew Johnson's private office.Can you meet the president at the White House? ›
Meeting a current or former president isn't the easiest thing to do. After all, they have millions of Americans to think about! Nonetheless, you can make an attempt to meet the president by contacting the White House directly, which will work in a slim number of cases.What is the rule for white jeans? ›
Chances are you have heard either in conversation or online that you should not wear white after Labor Day. It's so widespread some consider it settled law in the world of fashion. Sure, wear those white jeans to the barbeque, but as soon as the September weekend has passed, you better retire them, the dogma instructs.What months can you not wear white jeans? ›
Why can't you wear white after Labor Day? The old-fashioned decree bans us from wearing white during the winter and spring, from Labor Day in September till May Day (another day designated to celebrate workers' rights). One popular theory dates back to the early 1900s.When did the White House stop public tours? ›
They were again suspended in March 2013 during the Obama administration, due to the effects of the ongoing budget sequestration, but were resumed again in November 2013. Presently, a tour of the White House must be arranged through a member of Congress.How long does it take to hear back from White House tour request? ›
After Submitting A Tour Request
We strongly recommend downloading your confirmation page and reading the White House Tour Information Documents provided. You should hear back approximately 14 days prior to the date of the requested tour.
The White House Visitor Center is open daily 730pm-4pm. It's completely free to visit! There is plenty to see in the White House Visitor Center so we recommend setting aside 30minutes-1hour to explore it.What days are White House tours? ›
Public Self-Guided Tours
These self-guided public tours are scheduled Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 12 noon. Visitors move from room to room at their own pace; once inside the White House, most take about 15 to 20 minutes.
Clinton had considered recreating the indoor pool of the White House and creating a new space for the media. As part of the White House grounds, the pool and its cabana are the responsibility of the National Park Service.How much does the chair in the Oval Office cost? ›
Normally the term "presidential" is more descriptive than literal, but not so with the Gunlocke Washington Presidents Chair ($3,250-$5,500).Do you need a background check to visit the White House? ›
Tours of the White House are free, but you must get tickets through your congressman's office. You can make a request as early as three months in advance, and no later than 21 days in advance. Furthermore, you must submit your social security number and numbers for all group members so a background check can be done.How many visitors does the White House get a day? ›
The White House receives approximately 6,000 visitors a day.Can you take pictures of the Capitol? ›
Taking Photos at the US Capitol Building
It's entirely possible you'll get away with using a tripod, but the official policy of the US Capitol Police is: The use of camera equipment to film or photograph on Capitol Grounds is permitted, provided the photographs or film are for private or other non-commercial use.
Group visits/tours are Monday - Friday at the command's discretion and are secondary to military training. Groups should be no fewer than 15 people.Can you visit the US Capitol without a tour? ›
Do I have to take a tour to see the Capitol? Yes, the only way to see the historic Capitol is on a tour. How long is the tour and what will I see? Tours last about an hour and include the Rotunda , National Statuary Hall , and the Crypt .Is the Pentagon tour worth it? ›
Overall it was a great experience just to say I was inside the Pentagon, although it takes a bit of planning and security is tight it was definitely a worthwhile experience.
Possession of Open container of alcohol in DC is a misdemeanor offense that makes it illegal to drink an alcoholic beverage or possess in an open container of alcoholic beverage in a public place. Public place includes a street, alley, park, sidewalk, or parking area.Does a bedroom in DC have to have a window? ›
Lighting and Ventilation | Every space intended for human occupancy must have natural light by means of exterior glazed openings in accordance with Section 1205.2 of the Building Code and artificial light may not be used to meet the lighting requirements for bedrooms, living rooms and/or sleeping units.Can I visit DC without a car? ›
Thankfully, cars are not needed for the best experience. Washington, DC is a walking town. In fact, 58 percent of commuter trips in DC are taken by foot, bike or public transit. Join the locals and see the best in the District as a pedestrian!Why are private tours better? ›
Private tours give you the freedom to choose what you want to do and when. You don't have to consider the needs of other travellers, which provides you with far more room for flexibility and changes to your itinerary at every step of the way.What is the best day to tour Washington DC? ›
A pleasant Washington experience is as much about the “who,” or at least the “how many,” as the “when.” In general, popular tourist sites are busier on weekends than weekdays, Saturdays are busier than Sundays, and summer is busier than winter. The slowest days, generally speaking, are Monday through Wednesday.Is Capitol Hill open for tours? ›
Tours of the Capitol
Hours - The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors with tour reservations from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and on Inauguration Day.
The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items. Umbrellas, wallets, car keys, and cell phones (including those with cameras) are permitted. However, guests will not be allowed to use cell phones inside the White House.Can guests wear white? ›
It's no longer taboo to wear white!
"According to the Emily Post Institute, it's acceptable to wear white, as long as it doesn't 'distract from the bride or her attendant's dresses. ' For example, a colorful, cocktail-length dress with a white lace overlay is acceptable," says Lehman.
No, you don't have to wear all white, a lot do, but some just wear their regular colors.Can you tour the White House at night? ›
Marvel at the full shimmering skyline at the start and endpoint of your tour, which also includes views of the twinkling Tidal Basin and Thomas Jefferson Memorial. Night tours don't get much more magical than this, and pair perfectly with a day tour the following day.
Located in Catoctin Mountain Park in Frederick County, Maryland, Camp David has offered every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt an opportunity for solitude and tranquility, as well as an ideal place to work and host foreign leaders.Where do White House guests stay? ›
Blair House, also known as The President's Guest House, is an official residence in Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States.Which president did not live in the White House? ›
Although President Washington oversaw the construction of the house, he never lived in it. It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in.Do you see the Oval Office on a White House tour? ›
The White House West Wing Tour consists of visiting the following rooms in the White House: Roosevelt Room, the site of many senior staff meetings. Cabinet Room, where the President meets with his cabinet. Oval Office, the Presidential Office, where you may look in, but not enter.How many people are estimated to tour the White House during the holiday season? ›
Holidays at the White House
28, 2022. This year's theme, "We the People," is expected to be seen by about 50,000 visitors during the holiday season.
At various times in history, the White House has been known as the "President's Palace," the "President's House," and the "Executive Mansion." President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901. The White House receives approximately 6,000 visitors a day.What is included in the White House tour? ›
White House Tour Map
Visitors will see multiple rooms in the East Wing and Residence, including the State Dining Room, East Room, Blue Room, Red Room, Green Room, and the Family Theater. Guests will enter the White House complex from the south side of East Executive Avenue.
White House tours are an unguided walk and does not include the West Wing. So, unless you are friends with someone in the current presidential administration, you will not get to see the oval office, situation room, or any of the other spaces in the West Wing.Why are White House tours suspended? ›
Public tours of the White House will resume a full operating schedule on July 19 for the first time since they were suspended in 2020 because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the White House announced Monday.Where is the best place to view the White House? ›
Self Guided Tour of White House & Lafayette Park. Lafayette Square & The Andrew Jackson Statue: This park in the center of the Washington, DC metropolis boasts of the best view of the White House.
The North Side From Pennsylvania Avenue
This view of the White House is one of the most famous images in the world.
It was not until 1800, when the White House was nearly completed, that its first residents, President John Adams and his wife, Abigail, moved in. Since that time, each President has made his own changes and additions.How many weddings held at White House? ›
White House weddings
Nineteen couples have had documented weddings in the White House. Nine have been children of presidents, three have been a niece or nephew of the president or first lady, two siblings, two staffers, one granddaughter, one friend and one president.
The swimming pool at the White House, the official residence of the president of the United States, is located on the South Lawn near the West Wing.