Best Ways To Experience The Presidential Inauguration In Washington DC

January 7, 2013 8:00 AM

File photo of inaugurationCredit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

U.S President Barack Obama's inaugural address in 2009.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

U.S President Barack Obama’s inaugural address in 2009. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When President Barack Obama was sworn in the first time, visitors to the city overwhelmed the metro, hotels, restaurants and locals. This time around it may not be as overwhelming, but it is always best to be prepared. This is how to stay ahead of the game and enjoy the inaugural experience.

Let Freedom Ring!
The John F. Kennedy Center Concert Hall
2700 F St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20566
(202) 467-4600

Hours: Jan. 20 – 6 p.m.
Price: free

The official Inauguration Day is Sunday, Jan. 20 with the public ceremony Jan. 21, which also happens to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University will present a musical tribute to King — one of the country’s most influential leaders of the civil rights movement — and the annual John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award. To honor King’s messages and the second inauguration of Obama, spend part of Sunday listening to Smokey Robinson and the Let Freedom Ring Choir. Tickets for the tribute will be handed out at 4 p.m. in the Hall of Nations.
Inauguration Day

Jan. 21

Expect an insane flood of people into the city. As a D.C. resident, this is part of the inaugural experience. Because several roads will be blocked, the best means of transportation will be public transportation. Unfortunately, this means public transportation will be crowded. If you were at the last inauguration, you know just how intense it can be. Leave for your destinations early, and if you are traveling with children, be especially mindful. Also, it is January, so unless there is a random heat wave, dress accordingly. Layers, scarfs, hats and heat warmers are necessary. Because of the crowd and the weather, expect restaurants, museums and other tourist attractions to be at full capacity all day. The best thing to do will be to plan your day in advance, make reservations where you can, and know where you are going ahead of time and when. 

Related: Getaway Guide to Washington D.C.

Swearing In

The National Mall
Between Independence and Constitution Avenue

Jan. 21

President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden will be sworn in on the steps of the United States Capitol building with millions of people watching. The National Mall will be filled with thousands of people from all around the country and world, who want to experience the ceremony live. If you haven’t already procured one of the few tickets available from your congressmen or senators, you may still attend the ceremony and watch on one of the monitors if you do not get a good view. Despite the weather and crowdedness, going to the swearing in is a must for experiencing the inauguration in D.C.

Inaugural Balls

A party where you get to dress like you are in the presence of the Queen of England is always a beautiful thing. When the Presidential Inauguration rolls around every four years, all it takes is a ticket to live like a duke or duchess for a night. If you don’t have the pleasure of being invited to the president’s inaugural ball, there are several official and unofficial balls around the area that will make you feel just as much a part of the celebration. Ticket prices generally range from $75 to $300, but for some, the experience is priceless.

Related: Must See Places in the D.C. Area

Inauguration Parade
Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest

Jan. 21

As to be expected, The National Mall swarms with people on inauguration day for the swearing in. The inauguration parade is another option for those who want a close-up view of the festivities. The parade stretches over a mile, so there is a lot of space to get a spot. However, do not underestimate how many people will be attending the events. You will still need to get there early: You will still face the stiff security measures, and the metro will still be packed.

Folashade Oyegbola is a freelance writer covering all things D.C. Her work can be found on

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