How to Tour the White House, Capitol & Supreme Court


If you want to tour the White House, Capitol or Supreme Court I am going to give you the information that you need to make that happen. Hello! Welcome to Trip Hacks DC, my name is Rob, I’m a tour guide here in the nation’s capital. If you’re coming to Washington DC And you’re looking for the best tips, tricks, and hacks for exploring the city, make sure to subscribe to this channel and hit the bell notification icon so that you don’t miss anything. And if you’re interested in having me personally show you around when you come, head on over to my website TripHacksDC.com afterwards to see the tours that I offer. In this video I’m going to tell you how you can tour the headquarters of the three branches of U.S. government – the White House, Capitol and Supreme Court. If you live in or have been to Washington DC before leave a comment on this video and let me know which branch of government is your favorite to visit. Otherwise, let’s get started… The White House is one of the best-known houses in the entire world. It’s the home of the President, Frst Lady, First Family, and it’s also the most important office building in Washington DC. White House tours are a hot ticket and for that reason they’re not especially easy to get. These tours can only be booked by contacting your member of Congress at least three weeks in advance of your trip. If there’s less than three weeks and you haven’t put in your request, forget about it. Tours are scheduled on a first-come first-served basis and it’s important to understand that they are not guaranteed, which means that even if you request one from your member of congress, it doesn’t mean that you’re actually going to get one. If you’re interested in pursuing a White House tour I’ll leave a link in the description that will help you find the contact information for your member of Congress. If you’re an international visitor you need to contact your country’s embassy here in Washington DC and ask them to help you arrange a tour of the White House. I can’t say for sure what the success rate is for international visitors, but I can tell you that over the years some people have told me that some embassies are much more helpful than others. If they are able to accommodate you a White House staff member will contact you directly and ask for the name, birthdate, Social Security number, and some other information for everyone in the group so that they can run their background checks. Finally if all goes well you’ll be given a specific date and time when you can show up at the White House for your self guided tour. Now, it’s important to set some expectations before you show up. The public tour of the White House includes a handful of rooms in the East Wing. That includes the Blue Room, the Green Room, and the China Room, among others. It doesn’t include any rooms in the West Wing like the Oval Office, the Situation Room, the Roosevelt Room or any of the rooms in the President’s personal residence. To some people this can feel like a bit of a letdown especially if you know all about the White House from Hollywood shows and movies. There is a way to tour the good stuff, and that is to make a friend with someone who works in the West Wing. Which admittedly is easier said than done. At the end of the day is important to remember that the White House is a home and an office building. It’s not a museum and it’s not really fair to expect it to be like one. You have two options when it comes to booking your Capitol tour. The first is the contact your member of congress directly through the same process that you use to request a White House tour, and in fact you can request both at the same time. The second is to simply go on the Capitol Visitor Center website and sign up for a free tour. Whether one is better than the other is an age-old debate among Washington DC tour guides. If you book a tour directly through your congressperson that tour will actually be led by one of their staffers. During peak seasons this usually means an intern. Now, interns go through fairly rigorous training and some of them really take a lot of pride in the tours of the Capitol that they give, but as you can imagine, quality can vary quite a bit depending on who you get. If you book a tour through the Capitol Visitor Center It will be led by a professional full time tour guide known as a Red Coat, named for the red blazers that they wear. The big downside to the Red Coat tours is that the tour sizes can get huge, sometimes with dozens of people for a single tour guide, and what they’ll actually do is give you a set of headphones so you can hear the tour guide, since you might be really far away. On the other hand, tours with a Congress Member’s staffer to be a little bit smaller and often don’t use the headphones. The tours that are led by a staffer also might go to a few additional places such as the actual Congress Member’s office if that’s something that interests you. Whichever option you pick, make sure to ask for a gallery pass when you visit the Capitol Visitor Center. That’s a pass that will let you visit the galleries of the House and Senate chambers and see them from above. Or if you’re visiting when Congress isn’t in session, such as during the August recess, you can ask if they have a floor pass available. These will let you be escorted onto the floor of the actual chambers which is honestly pretty cool. Unlike tours of the Capitol, the Supreme Court tours are self-guided and you can visit the courtroom and some of the other public spaces on the first and ground floors of the building. When the court isn’t in session you can actually attend a courtroom lecture, which is held Monday through Friday every few hours. These are free lectures led by docents of the Supreme Court that introduce you to the courtroom, the history of the building, and the function of the Supreme Court. These are available on a first-come first-served basis, and you can line up for them in the great hall of the building. When the court is in session you can actually attend oral arguments by lining up outside the Supreme Court on the day of a case that you want to hear. How early you need to get there really depends on how high profile of the case it is. Even for a relatively low profile case you might still want to get there a few hours early, especially if this is something that you really want to do. I’ll leave a link in the description with some information about when the court is in session and a calendar of cases that they’re going to be hearing. This is actually a really cool and unique DC experience, because unlike Congress, there is no C-span channel for the Supreme Court and no cameras are allowed inside the courtroom, so the only way you’ll ever be able to see the Supreme Court live and in session is to visit in person. And that’s it! Thank you for watching this video, if you found it helpful you can subscribe to this channel by clicking on the Trip Hacks DC logo which is popping up right now at the bottom of the screen, and if you’re coming to Washington DC and you want to have me personally show you around you can click on the Capitol dome which is on the left side of my head right now that’ll take you over to my website TripHacksDC.com where you can see the tours that I offer. Enjoy your trip!

27 Replies to “How to Tour the White House, Capitol & Supreme Court”

  1. Hey, i got another question, can you get the gallery and floor pass if you're an international visitor? Or is it strictly for resident/citizen only? Thanks heaps!

    I'm really enjoying your tips 🙂 Thanks for providing it

  2. Any suggestions on where to store bags during the tour of the White House? We have been instructed that no bags can be brought to the White House, but they have not lockers or storage.

  3. Definitely going to recommend this channel on my channel. Good stuff. Every video is great for planning. We're sitting here binge watching while realizing what we missed! Looking forward to our next visit. Probably this Spring!

  4. Thanks for all the info! When you contact your member of Congress what do you do Do you just email them or call them and say you want to visit the White House and Capitol? Or us there some specific form to send to them?

  5. British Embassy is not supporting applications to tour the White House at the moment 🙁 Am going to DC in a few days and was hoping to see inside

  6. if a guided tour is not working out, how close i can go to these buildings to view from outside considering all security restrictions in place?

  7. I was in Washington DC for a couple of days in August. I did the tour of the Capitol Building. Very good and well worth doing it

  8. I am visiting from Canada , is that a way to visit west wing ? Please guide me the Process to connect with My embassy in DC?

  9. Hey Rob, you know the White House hasn't being open for foreign visitors since at least 10 years, it's quite a shame since I did a travel show on Washington DC and was told by the Canadian Embassy the only way for a foreigner is to be accompany by a senior diplomatic, which is impossible.

  10. I was typing in information for 4 total guests and it only allows me to do two. Do I submit 2 guests and then go back and submit the other two?

  11. I think that unless you are reeeally obsessively interested in seeing the White House, that you should skip it. It is like seeing the most boring three rooms in the driest, most uninteresting, antiquated architecture museum you can imagine. It is the worst waste of time on your DC trip ever, followed by going inside the Smithsonian castle. 😴ZZZ zzz ZZZ zzz

  12. Hi, I live in New York State, I still have my california ID although my address has officially been changed to NY state. My parents are visiting from CA. Should I contact my congressman and then have them contact theirs? Can I do it for them? Or request it myself even if we come from different states

  13. I contacted my senator's office and signed up 10 weeks out and never heard back!! I would apply at least 4 months out.

  14. I have a White House tour scheduled this Saturday early morning. Do you know of anywhere near by to store our backpacks while go on the tour?

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