White House Tours: What You Need To Know

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October 22, 2013 by toursbybecca

Amidst this tour guide’s general excitement for the reopening of the federal government, I have been remiss in posting about a very important development that was shared last week – The White House has reopened for public tours!  For those who have visited since sequestration began, this is a welcome development.

Of course, there are a few caveats.  This is what you need to know.

  • Tours will resume on November 5th and at this point, are only guaranteed to remain available until January 15th.
  • Tours will be offered three days a week (as opposed to five days), so expect for spots to fill up quickly.
  • To request a tour, you must do so through your Member of Congress.  You can call your Member directly or visit their website and click on the link for requesting tours.  International visitors should contact their embassy for more information.
  • Tour requests generally take at least 21 days of notice (with requests as early as six months out), so plan ahead.  Even if you are planning to visit after January 15th, it might be prudent to see if you can request a tour for next spring in the occasion that tours remain open past January 15th.
  • If you are able to procure a tour, be sure to review the security guidelines and information found here.
  • Tours are self-guided, with Secret Service agents stationed in each of the public rooms to answer questions.  To make the most of your experience, prepare a few questions in advance – this is a great activity for children!


If you already have plans to be in town on October 26th and 27th, the White House will be opening its grounds and gardens up for outdoor tours from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm.  Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 7:30 am at the Ellipse Visitor Center at 15th and E Street NW.  This is an incredible opportunity to see such gems as the Rose Garden and the Kitchen Garden up close and the fall weather this weekend should be lovely.

Won’t be in DC this weekend?  The White House is partnering with Instagram to host its first InstaMeet on Sunday, October 27th.  You can see live Instagram updates from the White House and First Lady Michelle Obama.

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