April 30, 2013 by toursbybecca
As a District denizen, politics is a part of my daily life. It’s hard to imagine Washington, DC existing as it does without daily politics swirling and buzzing about – it’s part of what makes the city such an exciting place to live and visit.
Unfortunately, the recent sequester has resulted in some not-ideal consequences for locals and tourists alike. I will try to keep this post updated as new information comes in but if you are planning to visit this summer, please know that the sequester is affecting hours and operations of popular landmarks.
White House: All White House tours are canceled, effective this past March. White House tours must be booked in advance, as highlighted in the FAQs, so you likely already know whether or not you have a tour that was canceled. Despite the cancellations, I encourage visitors to continue soliciting their congressional representatives for tours – if the White House reverses its position, you’ll want to have a something scheduled! To get your fix of White House history, I recommend visiting the temporary White House Visitor’s Center on the Ellipse.
National Archives: The National Archives will NOT be open for extended spring and summer hours this year. This may seem like a small change but this will significantly increase the average visitor’s wait time for entry as well as the size of the crowds inside the Rotunda, where the Charters of Freedom reside. I love the National Archives and consider this a “must-see” when you come to DC and I would encourage visitors to allow extra time for the line and to try to visit during non-peak hours. You can also reserve tickets in advance for a fee of $1.50 per person – this is a small price to pay to guarantee that you can see our Founding Documents!
Smithsonian Institution: First, breathe a sigh of relief that the Smithsonian museums are remaining free and open to the public for their regular summer hours. Now, for the bad news – the sequester will cause certain exhibitions to be closed on a rotating basis over the coming months, which could be disappointing if you’re not prepared. Prior to your visit, if there is something special you are seeking out, be sure to check the Smithsonian’s website or social media outlets to be sure that the day’s closures will not affect you.
Arlington National Cemetery: Arlington National Cemetery released a statement in early April to discuss the effect sequestration will have on the cemetery. They announced that, at this time, the cemetery’s public hours will remain the same and cemetery employees will be exempted from furloughs. This is vital because this means that funerals at the cemetery will continue to be conducted with dignity and honor at their current rate (25-30 burials a day).
Capitol Building: So far, no announcements have been made regarding public tours of the Capitol. However, they have closed several of the entrances used by Capitol staff to cut down on security expenses. This means – surprise, surprise – longer lines and crowds at security checkpoints. If you have a tour of the Capitol, I suggest arriving at least an hour early to allow plenty of time for crowds and security.
National Park Service: Luckily, all of the National Park Service sites will remain open and staffed during the summer. However, expect to see fewer park rangers on-site and possible shortened hours for gift shops, ranger stations, etc. I spoke with several rangers in early April and they anticipate no major changes other than hiring fewer seasonal staff.
Again, I’ll be updating this post as new information becomes available. If you have any questions about the sequester, feel free to email me directly at toursbybecca [at] gmail [dot] com or post your comment on Facebook!