Request a Tour
Let us begin this post by letting you know that you will have to contact your member of Congress or Senate to get a tour of the White House. This must be done several weeks in advance, and tours are limited, so visit your Representative’s website to find out how to get tickets.
What You Will See
The White House tour is definitely worth the price of admission (it’s free). After waiting in line and going through several security measures, you are allowed to walk through the lower level of the White House. There may be famous people in the building, but they are all working upstairs. The tour is all self-guided, so you walk through with everyone else and read signs as you go.
The tour takes you through the East Room, which features a painting of George Washington that was saved by Dolly Madison during the British Invasion in 1814. The next stop is the Green Room where 11 year-old Willie Lincoln lay in his coffin after his death from typhoid fever. The Blue Room, which is a little larger is the main reception hall on the first floor for foreign dignitaries. The Red Room has been used as a music room and small dining room by most Presidents.
As you pass through these rooms, there is a small giftshop as well as collections of past Presidents’ china used for greeting formal guests. There are also portraits of each President and many of the First Ladies, and we had fun guessing who each one was. You can also ask any of the Secret Service agents standing in each room questions. We seemed to be the only ones asking questions, but everyone was helpful and friendly. And it was fun to learn about James Madison’s candlesticks or the Tafts’ end table.
The tour continues into the State Dining Room. This is where many formal banquets are held. Surprisingly, this room can hold 140 people! We really liked the eagles holding up the tables in this room. A friendly staff member told us this is where the White House gingerbread house will sit during the Christmas season.
Finally you can stand underneath the Presidential Seal and take a picture. Then you head out the back of the White House. There is never a great picture of the White House exterior on this tour, so make sure to grab one another time.
We enjoyed our tour of the White House. It was informative and, though short, we enjoyed seeing where our Presidents live.
Tips for Families
- Reserve your tickets early. Contact your congressman to find out how to get tickets.
- Plan on waiting in line. We had to wait quite awhile after we arrived before we actually got in the White House. So make sure to dress for the weather since most of the line is outside.
- Ask questions. We asked a question in every room, but we felt that no one else was asking any. We learned more interesting facts by asking questions.
- Take lots of pictures, but only on your phone. Other cameras are not allowed.
- There are lots of rules. Once you are approved to get tickets, there is a huge list of rules that will be sent to you. Make sure to follow all the rules because you would hate to get there and not be able to walk in the White House. More info on visiting the White House here.