It is possible to visit Washington D.C., and wing it, but there are so many must-see things to do that require tickets (both free and paid) that it is really in your interest to plan ahead, especially if you are going for a short visit or vacationing during the holidays or the peak travel season.
Almost all the government tours require tickets, and some of these tours have very limited windows of opportunity, especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11. For instance, the White House was closed to tours by the general public for over two years and reopened with a much more limited public touring policy. It is now possible to have a guided tour only through your member of congress. These self-guided tours of ten people may visit the national residence between 7:30
To plan a trip through your member of congress, it is now suggested that you call your representative's or senator's local office six months before your trip. You can find the phone numbers in your local phone book, call information, or search on the Web for his or her Web site. You can also write to him or her at the following address:
Name of Representative House of Representatives Washington D.C. 20515
Name of Senator U.S. Senate Washington D.C. 20510
Write the words “Advance Tickets” on the envelope. If you're short on time, it might be worth your while to call the Washington office and fax your letter. You may also be able to apply for tickets online through your representative's office.
In addition to the White House tour, government tours and sites that require tickets include:
• The Washington Monument
• The Bureau of Engraving and Printing
• The Capitol
• The Supreme Court
• The State Department
• The Treasury Department
• The Kennedy Center
Some of the more popular attractions also require tickets. Waiting in line for a ticket can waste a lot of your day, but you can call a ticket service and get advance tickets for a small service charge. Tickets. com will supply you with up to four tickets for a varying nominal service charge and overall processing charge on the whole order.
The National Parks Service offers tickets to the Washington Monument for a charge of $1.50, plus an overall order charge of fifty cents. To contact this service, call 1-800-967-2283, or visit its Web site at
Washington D.C. has a number of terrific theatrical and musical venues, some of which are free. Before your trip, it might be a good idea to find out what events and performances are coming up while you are in town.
The Center hosts free concerts most evenings at 6
The Verizon Center is the venue for sports and concerts in D.C. For more information and to order tickets, call 1-800-551-7328 or 202-397-7328, or visit their Web site at
This is an outdoor venue where you can catch wonderful performances — operas, classical music concerts, and more. Call 703-255-1868 or visit the site at
If you decide you want to see a performance the day of the show, you might be able to get half-price tickets. You can call TICKETplace at 202-842-5387, (
The National Shakespeare Company presents classical theater productions. Call 413-637-1199 or visit it online at
The theater where President Lincoln was assassinated is still an active theater. Call 202-347-4833 for information about performances.