Do you have any questions about any of the tours listed on my webpage? Drop me a line!
Photo by Mark Robinson
Favorite DC attractions to check out while you're in town:
( all are free! )
This is not a complete listing by any means, and is in no particular order. These are a few of the favorite places and attractions that people enjoy visiting in DC and frequently ask about. Please review the linked websites below to be sure to get up to date and current information. The difficulty in a visit to D.C. is not finding things to do, but deciding what you will need to leave out this visit.
NOTE : Washington Monument - Due to damage from our August 2011 earthquake, the Washington Monument and the elevator rides have been temporarily suspended. Not expected to resume until 2014. Please see below "Tim's Tip" which is a great alternative to going up to the top of the Washington Monument.
So for now.....the following does not apply....Elevator rides to the top of the Monument require a ticket. There are 2 ways to get them: 1) Free same-day tickets to take a Ranger-guided elevator tour to the top of the Monument can be obtained at the Washington Monument Lodge along 15th Street. Tickets are available on a limited first-come, first-served basis. 2) Advance tickets (if available) can be reserved online at a cost of $1.50 per person HERE or by calling 1-877-444-6777.
Tim's Tip: A great alternative or addition to going up the Washington Monument is taking the "Tower Tour" at the Old Post Office Pavilion located on 12th Street between Constitution and Pennsylvania Ave. No tickets are required, plus there is a food court on the lower level, souvenir shops on the 2nd level, and you'll view the Bells of Congress on the way up the tower. Click HERE for more details.
United States Capitol: One hour-long tours are available. Advanced tickets are available online HERE, or by calling 202-226-8000. No tickets are needed for the Capitol Visitor's Center. The entrance is on the East side of the Capitol.
Tim's Tips: 1) Plan to be at the Capitol for an hour and a half to two hours. 2) For the serious legislative branch enthusiast, gallery passes are available through your House Representative or Senator. These passes are good through the duration of the 113th Congress (currently through January 3, 2015) and are balcony-seating. 3) After your Capitol tour, consider also seeing the Library of Congress, directly across 1st Street.
Library of Congress: The "Library of Congress Experience" tour is located in the Jefferson building. Tickets for the free one-hour long tours are available by visiting HERE or by calling 202-707-8000. You may also tour the Library of Congress on your own.
Tim's Tip: My favorite exhibit inside is the Thomas Jefferson Library. Over 90% of Jefferson's original library has been "recollected" and arranged into a conch shell pattern that allowed Jefferson to be surrounded by his books. He sorted all of his books into three categories: memory, reason and imagination.
NOTE: The White House Public tours have been cancelled until further notice as a response by the Secret Service to cut expenses due to the automatic spending cuts known as Sequestration.
For updates on this status - Click HERE or call the White House Visitors' Center 24 hour hotline at 202-456-7041
So for now.....the following does not apply....
White House: Public tours of the White House are available by requests submitted though your member of Congress and are accepted up to 6 months in advance. If you are a citizen of a foreign country, you should contact your embassy in Washington D.C. for assistance in submitting a tour request. For current information, visit HERE or call 202-456-7041.
Tim's Tip: If you are not able to arrange a White House visit in advance this time, you could plan a quick stop at the White House visitor's center. Please note that the visitor's center on Pennsylvania Ave is temporarily closed for refurbishing, but there is a temporary visitor's center adjacent to the pavilion on the grounds of the ellipse. Free access daily - click HERE or call 202-208-1631 for more information.
Supreme Court: Lectures on the first floor are sometimes available when the court is in session on a first-come, first-served basis every hour on the half-hour. Exhibits can be toured on your own. Check schedule and other details HERE or call 202-479-3211.
U.S. Botanical Gardens: The oldest continually-operating botanic garden in the United States. Spectacular. Click HERE or call 202-225-8333 for more information.
Tim's Tips: 1) Great place to make a quick stop and get a soothing "green" break. Who wouldn't feel better after being surrounded by plants from all over the world? 2) On a cold day, take a "free tropical vacation" visiting the Jungle Exhibit. 3) On a nice day, enjoy a bagged lunch on their conservatory terrace. 4) Great bathrooms!
Favorite Attractions/Helpful Web sites:
National Gallery of Art - Go to the information desk and ask for their "Less than an Hour" highlight guides available at both the National Gallery of Art West (traditional art) and the National Gallery of Art East (modern and contemporary art).
Smithsonian Institution - 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park.
Millennium Stage at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts - Free concerts at 6 p.m. every night.
Arlington National Cemetery - "Our nation's most hallowed ground."
Ford's Theatre - America's most famous theatre.
National Archives - See the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and the Bill of Rights
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum - "America's national institution for the documentation, study and interpretation of Holocaust history."
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial - the Nation's monument to law enforcement officers (Federal, State, Local) who have died in the line duty.
The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing-Washington D.C. Tours - See where paper money is printed! Unfortunately, there are no free samples.
Pentagon Tours - Advanced reservations required through your member of Congress or online. Note: 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is free, non-ticketed, and open 24 hours.
Gardens in DC - I have an entire page on this website devoted to some of the area's best gardens and horticultural points of interest.
Popular Attractions that require a fee for admission
Mount Vernon - George Washington's Virginia Plantation on the banks of the Potomac River. Visit the mansion, a dozen original structures, Washington's Tomb and nearly 50 acres including beautiful gardens and landscaping.
President Lincoln's Cottage - Guided tours of President Lincoln's hilltop cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers' Home in Northwest Washington DC.
Newseum - A 250,000 square foot museum which offers visitors an interactive museum of news and journalism.
Helpful Web Sites for the D.C. Visitor:
National Parks Service - National Mall and Memorial Parks
Goingoutguide.com - The Washington Post's Guide for DC area nightlife, events and dining.
Washington.org - Washington D.C. Tourism Site
Guild of Professional Tour Guides of DC
Public parking is limited near the National Mall. On Saturday and Sunday, free parking spaces can be found along Constitution Avenue, but they can fill up quickly. If at all possible, it really is easiest to use public transportation and the Metro system to get in and around Washington DC. Your hotel staff will know the most efficient metro routes into town.
For more information regarding parking near the National Mall and DC click HERE
For the Metro system website link click HERE
For Metro stations closest to my tours, click on the tab on the top of this page with the specific tour name and scroll to the bottom of the page for the specific metro station recommendations.