To visit the most famous house in the country, you don’t need a formal invitation and you don’t have to get dressed up. Of course, you can’t just knock on the front door and expect to be invited in, either. Just as presidential candidates plan ahead and hope to win the White House, you must plan in advance to visit, too. Here’s a quick guide to visiting the White House. — Kathryn McKay
First, you must contact your member of Congress. How far in advance you contact your representative depends on when you want to visit. To visit in January, a month might be enough notice. For spring, summer or during the Christmas season, allow up to six months. Most tours run Tuesdays through Saturday in the morning, but they can be canceled at any time. In 20 to 25 minutes, you’ll walk through the East Room (where Teddy Roosevelt’s kids rode their pony), the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room and the State Dining Room. Along the way, security officers can answer questions about the House.
If you can’t go to the White House (or even if you can), check out the White House Visitor Center at 15th and E streets, where exhibits feature what life is like at the White House. Plus, you can do a few things at the Visitor Center that you can’t do at the White House, like sit on the furniture and buy souvenirs.
Hotels with White House Connections
Presidents have been known to conduct business in hotels all over town. Here are a select few:
1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004
This gorgeous hotel near the White House has hosted many presidents, including Abraham Lincoln. A copy of his $773 bill is on display in the lobby. In the Willard’s Round Robin Bar, the bartenders pour signature drinks named after each president. George Washington’s Madeira wine, anyone?
16th and H Streets, NW
Washington, DC 20006
President Barack Obama and his family stayed at the Hay-Adams before moving into the White House.
The Capitol Hilton
1001 16th Street NW
A favorite of Harry Truman, the Capitol Hilton is also where Bill Clinton interviewed Al Gore to become his running mate.