If you have only a couple of days to visit Washington and you are planing to see the white house, forget it. You need to make a prior appointment to get your tickets , several weeks in advance.
Unique Suggestions: thus if you want to get a white house you have to plan at least several months in advance. have a group of 10 or more .
there is a 24 hour information line which informs about any changes in policy 202-456-7041. but it does not tell you how to get the tickets exactly
It says that the self guided tours have to be submitted at least one month in advance. (the earliest accepted is 6 months) and it is first come first serve, but they fail to provide you with a live person to help you arrange it.
there is a republican website that can get you tickets but you have to pay 250 usd if you are a citizen to get to see what you used to be able to see it for free.
2004-2005 TICKET PRICES*
seniors no admittance
Fun Alternatives: An alternative is to see pictures in a website, you are really not missing anything.
you can also take a picture from the outside .
Things have changed over the years. The tour of the White House really has become so limited that it really isn't worth it anymore. You will get to see much more in the %l [http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/inside-white-house/interactive-tour]virtual visit.
**important update- As of March 9, 2013 ALL tours of the White House have been cancelled due the budget limitations caused by the sequestration. There is presently no guidance as to when these tours will resume. All previously scheduled tours are also cancelled as of this date.****
The White House Visitors Center, located at 1450 Pennyslvania Avenue (two blocks east of the White House) closed on July 2012 for restoration. This is expected to last 15 months. In the meanwhile there is a temporary visitor center located on the Ellipse directly across the street from the white house grounds. The Visitor center has some historical presentations (multimedia) in the temporary visitor center.
When/if the tours resume, here's how
Foreign Citizens- please contact your Embassy in Washington DC
Contact the office of your Member of Congress (House or Senate) and fill in the request form. This must be done SIX months beforehand.
no photos are allowed in the White House and there are substantial security restrictions
Fun Alternatives: A Good virtual tour of the White House
I've been to the one in NYC, where my cousin and I watched the bears-Lions game on Thanksgiving day. That was great, a huge 20 foot screen, many other big screens around the room. I was hoping for something similar to watch a Packer game on a sunday here. Nope.
The bar area was about 10 chairs, and 3 or 4 20-inch screens, none showing what I wanted to watch. Their was room for about 5 people to stand and watch.
There was also a sign on the door as you walked in saying 'due to high demand' or some bs like that, that you had to spend at least $10/hr if you wanted to watch a game. Nope. Go somewhere else. Save your money.
I won't say that all the museums are all outrageously expensive to eat at. Anyway, by now you should know that your convenient stop at the cafeteria of the Natural History or American History museums (of the Smithsonian) will not be cheap. Let me give you an idea of how "not cheap"
a very small grilled chicken sandwich-$6.50
an equally small hamburger- $6.50
a sandwich- nothing fancy- over $9
Granted, a lot of people will go to the cafeteria since they wont have to leave the building and have to pass security and stand in line again. Fair Enough. Find a McDonalds or something cheaper and eat there.
Unique Suggestions: You can sit in the cafeteria without buying anything. If you were a smarty-pants and packed a lunch before you left home then just go for it. The drinks in the cafeteria aren't too outrageous, its more the food that is expensive
Visitors to Washington shouldn't miss checking out a few of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution. They're all around the National Mall, at the Smithsonian stop on the orange line of the Metro. The museums are free and great, but don't eat there! The restaurants are very expensive and the food is sub-par.
Unique Suggestions: Unfortunately, there aren't any good places to eat on the Mall. My suggestions: pack a picnic, or plan your day so that at lunchtime you'll be in a better place to eat. Union Station (which has it's own stop on the Metro red line) has a nice food court as well as a good selection of sit-down restaurants. Chinatown (Metro yellow and green line) is a great place to find a bargain lunch. The Full Kee restaurant is a good choice.
I know you can go up in the tower, but what happened to the place?
There used to be lovely restaurants in the post office, now it looks like a mall...Incredibly sad.
Unique Suggestions: Do the tower, but skip the mall.
Fun Alternatives: Hirschorn Sculpture Garden, It is gorgeous and the hubby and I used to date there.
Ok, I am not a PETA person, in fact, I prefer that my food has a face! But the recent events at the National Zoo are a complete tragedy and I would strongly recommend that folks steer clear of this place for the time being.
First, the Washington Post has reported that something like 25 animals have died over the last five or so years solely from negligent management of the zoo. For example, a baby Zebra died of starvation and hypothermia. Pretty darned hard to die of starvation in a zoo! Also, a pair of red pandas were 'accidentally' poisoned and several prarie dogs were eaten by rats.
Check out the story in the Post here:
Unique Suggestions: If you have to visit the zoo, stop by and see the Pandas. Then when you get home, write your congressman/woman and ask them why more than 20 animals have died from negligent care and NOONE HAS BEEN FIRED?!
Warning about those lovely cherry blossoms: Please do not plan your vacation for the trees being in full bloom. If the weather is rainy or windy, the delicate petals become pink snow. There are years when the trees are showy for more than a week and other years when it seems like they are all in bloom for only a couple of hours. If you can get to see them, great, but don't plan your vacation around them. They are too temperamental.
The White House, Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Cafe are the worst. I know, I know, I know. You ask how could I say this about the White House? Put it this way, the first time I saw it from the Ellipse, I asked 'Is that it?!?' I was more impressed by the Old Executive Office Building on the west side of the White House. If you must see the White House, do it from the Ellipse. The park is nice to sit and relax in. You can catch a great view of the White House and the Washington Monument from there without all the hassle, waiting and crowds.
The most famous building in the city and home to the first family, the White House is a high spot on any visit to Washington, DC. Very little of the building is on show but most enjoy the opportunity to enter the powerhouse of the USA.
those beautiful cherry blossoms