Visit the White House

By: Robert Thomson

If you have a desire to visit the White House. There are a few things you will be mustdo and know when making your preliminary preparations.

Public tours of the White House are readily available to anyone who is a citizen of the United States. First a request must be made through your Member of Congress. Any request of this sort may be accepted as much as months in advance. These tours are self guided and are available from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Fridays, and 7:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturdays. Tours, however, are not provided on federal holidays. Tour hours may sometimes be lengthened whenever it is feasible based on the official White House schedule. The tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis. These requests, as mentioned earlier, can be submitted up to six months in advance but no less than 30 days in advance. You are largely encouraged to submit your request as soon as you can since a limited number of tours are available in any given period. All White House tours are one hundred percent free of charge.

If you are a not a United States citizen, then you will have to contact your embassy in Washington, DC for more assistance in submitting a tour request.

It is said that all tours are largely made that much better if you stop by the White House Visitor Center located at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets, before or after you have completed your tour. The Center is open seven days a week from as a early as 7:30 a.m. Right up until 4:00 p.m. and features many areas of interest about the White House, including its architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders, as well as a thirty-minute video. You will possibly need anywhere between 20 minutes to one hour to explore the exhibits completely. The White House Historical Association also sponsors a sales area. Rest rooms are provided but there are no food services offered.

If you are scheduled for a tour and require the loan of a wheelchair you should inform the officer at the Visitors Entrance upon your arrival. However it is of necessity to note that reservations are not possible. If you are using a wheelchair, or have any other mobility problems, you will still use the same Visitors Entrance but will be escorted by ramp from the entrance level to the Ground floor, and then by the elevator from the Ground floor to the State floor.

There are special tours that have been established to accommodate the hearing and visually impaired.

If you have any questions or wish to find out about any last minute modifications to your schedule then you may call the 24-hour Visitors Office information line at 202-456-7041.

You will not be allowed to take specific items with you. These prohibited items include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following: handbags, book bags, backpacks, purses, food and beverages of any kind, strollers, cameras, video recorders or any type of recording device, tobacco products, personal grooming items (make-up, hair brush or comb, lip or hand lotions, etc.), any pointed objects (pens, knitting needles, etc.), aerosol containers, guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, mace, martial arts weapons/devices, or knives of any size. The United States Secret Service maintains the right to prohibit any other personal items. Umbrellas, wallets, cell phones and car keys are allowed.

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