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Our Nation's Capital is the home of our most important government institutions, but it is also a major cultural and historical center with great natural and architectural beauty. Whether you are visiting Washington for the first time or are simply on another weekend excursion, you will find that Washington always has something new and fascinating to offer. This section of my web site will help you locate old favorites and suggest a variety of attractions to make your visit special.

I recommend a visit to the U.S. Capitol, a beautiful structure providing many insights into the history of our nation. The Senate and the House of Representatives are in the Capitol and you are welcome to observe the lawmaking process while either body is in session. Please stop by my office and we will be happy to provide you with passes.

There are many things to do and see in Washington. We hope the following list of tour sites will be helpful as you plan your visit. Some tours require no reservations, while others require reservations well in advance of the tour date. Our office can assist in scheduling some of these tours for you. Please call us at (202) 224-4654 and let us know what we can do for you.

Special Congressional Tours

Many federal buildings in Washington, D.C. offer reserved tours that can be booked through Congressional offices. Senator Mikulski's booking policies are:

  • Bookings are made on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • All requests are subject to availability. Specific tour dates cannot be guaranteed until confirmed by the host site.

PLEASE MAKE YOUR REQUEST EARLY. Spaces for tours during the summer months and holiday periods are often filled months in advance.

Group Tours and Special Services

For information on tours for larger groups or if your party needs special services (access for the disabled, translation for deaf or hearing-impaired, or tours for the blind or visually-impaired), please call Senator Mikulski's Washington office and ask to speak with the Tour Coordinator.

Public Tours

Most sites also offer public tours on a first-come, first-serve basis. If a public tour is available, that information is included in this fact sheet. Most public tours are identical to the Congressional tours.

Virtual Tours

A virtual tour of the Capitol is available online by clicking Here. This tour highlights the rooms and landmarks that you will see if you take a Capitol tour.

The U. S. Capitol

Between Constitution and Independence Avenues

Your visit to the historic U.S. Capitol begins at the new Capitol Visitor Center.  The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its two legislative bodies, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.  Through films, exhibits, and tours, you will learn about how Congress works, how this magnificent building was built, and how citizens can participate in representative democracy.

LOCATION AND HOURS

The Capitol Visitor Center, the new main entrance to the U.S. Capitol, is located below the East Plaza of the Capitol between Constitution and Independence Avenues.

Visitors:  The Visitor Center is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  It is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Inauguration Day.

Official Business:  Visitors with official business appointments may enter the Visitor Center as early as 7:15 a.m.

GUIDED TOURS OF THE CAPITOL

Guided tours of the Capitol begin at the Orientation Theaters on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center.  “Out of Many, One,” a 13-minute film, illustrates how this country established a new form of government, highlights the vital role that Congress plays in the daily lives of Americans, and introduces you to the building that houses the U.S. Congress.

Tours are free, but tour passes are required.

Tour hours:  8:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday

Advance Passes:  Tours may be booked in advance online at http://www.visitthecapitol.gov/, through the office of your Senators or Representative, or through the Office of Visitor Services by calling (202) 226-8000.

Same-Day Passes:  A limited number of passes are available each day at the tour kiosks on the East and West Fronts of the Capitol or at the Information Desks in Emancipation Hall on the lower level of the Visitor Center.

WATCHING CONGRESS IN SESSION

Hours:  The Senate and House Galleries are open to visitors whenever either body is in session.  In addition, the House Gallery is open 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, when the House is not in session.

Passes:  Passes are required to enter either gallery at any time.  Visitors may obtain gallery passes from the offices of their Senators or Representatives.  Gallery passes are available for international visitors at the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level.

DINING AND GIFT SHOPS

Restaurant (Lower Level):  Freshly made soups, salads, specialty entrees, pizza, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages reflect the diverse bounty of America.  Hours:  7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Saturday.

Gift Shops (Upper Level):  A unique selection of merchandise inspired by the Capitol’s art and architectural treasures, fun and educational gifts, books, jewelry, and exciting custom-designed products make excellent souvenirs.  Hours:  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday.

EXHIBITION HALL (LOWER LEVEL)

Here you can explore the only exhibition in the country dedicated to telling the story of Congress and the construction of the U.S. Capitol.  Exhibit highlights include rarely seen historic documents from the National Archives and the Library of Congress, artifacts from around the country, and an 11-foot-tall touchable model of the Capitol dome.  You may also watch the action on the floors of both chambers of Congress at the House and Senate theaters when Congress is in session.  Numerous interactive stations allow you to discover more about Congress, its Members, and the Capitol.  Hours:  8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS ACCESS

Visitors have direct access from the Capitol Visitor Center to the historic Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, one of the nation’s great treasures, via the Library of Congress Tunnel.  The entrance to the tunnel is located on the upper level of the Visitor Center near the House Appointment Desk.

VISITOR TIPS

All areas of the Visitor Center are smoke free.

Strollers and Baby Changing:  Strollers are permitted in the Visitor Center and baby-changing stations are available in each family restroom.

Public Telephones and ATMs:  These are located outside each Gift Shop.

Foreign Languages:  Visitors may request listening devices for foreign-language versions of the films and the exhibition at the Information Desks.

Visitors with Disabilities:  Visitors may request wheelchairs from Capitol Visitor Center staff wearing red vests or at one of the Information Desks in Emancipation Hall.  Sign-language interpreting for tours is available when booked in advance.  Listening devices with audio description of the films and exhibition are available at the Information Desks.  All films have open captioning.

Service Animals:  Service animals are allowed in the Visitor Center and the Capitol.

SAFETY AND SECURITY

Before entering the Capitol Visitor Center, all visitors are screened by a magnetometer and all items that are permitted inside the building are screened by an x-ray device.  The following items are strictly prohibited:

Any bag larger than 14" wide x 13" high x 4" deep
Aerosol containers
Any pointed object (i.e., knitting needles, letter openers, etc.  Note:  pens and pencils are permitted.)
Cans and bottles
Electric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devices
Food or beverages of any kind
Guns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworks
Knives of any size
Mace and pepper spray
Non-aerosol spray (prescriptions for medical needs are permitted)
Razors and box cutters

The following are allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center and the Capitol, but not in the Senate and House Galleries:

Battery-operated electronic devices (Medical devices are permitted.)
Cameras
Creams, lotions, or perfumes
Strollers
Video recorders or any type of recording device

RESPECTING CAPITOL ART

During your visit, help preserve the Capitol’s statues and other works of art.  Enjoy looking at the, but do not touch them – each touch does some damage.

IN THE EVENT OF AN EVACUATION AT THE CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER:

  • Proceed to the nearest exit – exit up stairs
  • All emergency exits at the Visitor Center are located on the Upper Level
  • Follow direction of U.S. Capitol Police
  • If assistance is needed, seek U.S. Capitol Police help

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Tours are scheduled by the White House Visitor's Office Tuesday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Requests must be made at least one month in advance, and can be submitted up to six months in advance. To set up a tour, please contact the Tour Coordinator in Senator Mikulski's DC office by e-mail at tours@mikulski.senate.gov. In your email, please include the following information:

Your name

Your mailing address

Your telephone number

After receiving your e-mail, the Tour Coordinator will send you a form requesting security information from all guests wishing to visit the White House. The form must be completed and returned before the request can be submitted.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

14th and C Streets S.W.

PUBLIC TOURS: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. Every 15 minutes. All visitors must bring a valid photo ID.

Supreme Court

First and East Capitol Streets N.E.

CONGRESSIONAL TOURS: Monday through Friday at 2 p.m. when the court is not sitting. Limited to groups of six or fewer.

PUBLIC TOURS: Public lectures are given in the courtroom every hour on the half hour Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on days the court is not sitting. For information call (202) 479-3030.

Kennedy Center

2700 F Street NW

CONGRESSIONAL TOURS: Monday through Saturday at 9:30 a.m. and Monday through Friday at 4:30 p.m.

PUBLIC TOURS: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tours leave every fifteen minutes from the Friends of the Kennedy Center tour desk on Level A.

Washington National Cathedral

Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenues NW

CONGRESSIONAL TOURS: Monday and Wednesday mornings at 9:00 a.m.

PUBLIC TOURS: Monday through Saturday 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. and 12:45 to 3:15 p.m., Sunday from 12:45 to 2:30 p.m. For information call (202) 537-6247.

Other sites of interest in Washington:

Ford's Theatre
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
Frederick Douglass National Historic Site
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Jefferson Memorial
Korean War Veterans Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
National Air and Space Museum
National Archives
National Museum of American History
National Museum of Natural History
National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Zoo
Phillips Collection
Smithsonian Institution
U.S. Mint
Vietnam Veteran's Memorial
Women in Military Service for America Memorial
Washington Monument
World War II Memorial

Helpful links for Washington information:

Washington, D.C. Tourist Information

  • This extensive web site by the House of Representatives offers a treasure trove for visitors to Washington with information on memorials and points of interest, theaters, sports teams, transportation and local weather forecasts.

The Official Tourism Website of Washington, D.C.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority
Washington, D.C. registry
Recreational Opportunities on Federal Lands