The White House Tour

Approximately 2000 people visit the White House daily. Last month, I was one of them. I’d been thinking about visiting for a while but kept putting it off because I thought it would be difficult to get in, and I’d have to get up really early.  Turns out it was pretty straight forward. I mentioned it to one of my aunts who lives in the area and she did the rest. 

Once the date was confirmed, we received a welcome note with instructions and a list of prohibited and allowable items.

Welcome to the White House

The White House is the official residence of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in NW Washington, DC. The residence was designed by James Hoban and built between 1792 and 1800.

White House from Pennsylvania Ave
The White House from Pennsylvania Ave

John Adams, the second president of the US was its first resident. He moved to the White House in November 1800 but didn’t live there long as he was defeated by Thomas Jefferson who took up residence in 1801.

View from the Ground Floor
View from the Ground Floor

Prior to 1811, the White House was known as the President’s Palace, Presidential Mansion or President’s House.

Here are the highlights of the self-guided tour.

The Library 

White House Peek at the Library
A peek inside the White House Library

On the ground floor, I drooled over a sumptuous display of presidential china, some dating back 200 years. There’s also the White House Library which has over 2700 books on American life. We weren’t allowed in but the door was open, so I snapped this photo. 

The Grand Staircase connects the main floor to the first or State floor, where the Green Room, Red Room and Blue Room as well as the State Dining Room are located. In addition to the Ground and State Floors, there are the Second and Third Floors and basement, which takes up two floors.

The Green Room

The Green Room
The Green Room

Thomas Jefferson hosted dinners in the Green Room which has been a parlor since James Madison’s presidency. You’ll see John and Abigail Adams’ silver coffee urn and James and Dolly Madison’s French candlesticks. The American furniture was made 1800-1815.  

The Blue Room

The Blue Room
The Blue Room

Oval in size, the Blue Room is used as a reception room. President James Monroe furnished the room in the French style in 1817. Original objects include gilded chairs, sofa and the clock on the mantel. Grover Cleveland, the only president to have a White House wedding, married Frances Folsom in 1886 in the Blue Room.

The Red Room

The Red Room
The Red Room

First ladies receive their guests in the Red Room, which has been used as a parlor since the early 19th century. The Red Room is also where President Rutherford Hayes took the oath of office in 1877. The American Empire style furniture was made in New York, 1810-1830. The marble mantle has been in the White House since 1819.

The State Dining Room

State Dining Room
State Dining Room

The White House hosts official dinners in the State Dining Room. As many as 140 can be seated in this room. The presidents and their families use the smaller dining room.

View of the North
View of the North Entrance

White House exteri

As this is a self-guided tour, you can go at your own pace. It took us about 2 hours to complete. National Park Service employees, posted in each room, are available to answer questions.

White House Tour Essentials

Admission to the White House is free. US citizens must contact their Member of Congress to request a tour, non citizens must contact their embassy in Washington, DC.
Tours are available Monday to Saturday, except on public holidays.
US citizens can use their driver’s license, military ID, or passport. Foreign nationals can also use their passports to get in.

The White House is very strict on what you cannot take in. No bags of any kind are allowed, including handbags, purses, book bags and backpacks. Also, no video cameras, tablets, iPads, camera sticks, strollers and diaper bags. You can, however, take a compact camera or camera phone for still photography only. Texting or talking is not allowed.

The most convenient way to get to the White House is by subway. Take the red, orange or blue line to Metro Center, the blue or orange line to Federal Triangle, or McPherson Square. There is also paid parking nearby. 

Linking this week with Travel Photo Thursday hosted by Nancie at Budget Travelers Sandbox, Jan at Budget Travel Talk, Ruth at Tanama Tales and Rachel at Rachel’s Ruminations


Budget Travelers Sandbox
Also linking with Weekend Travel Inspiration hosted by Malaysian Meanders,  Reflections EnrouteThe Crowded PlanetContentedTravellerAlbom AdventuresSafari 254, and FamiliesGo.


38 comments on “The White House Tour

  1. Marcia – It looks like that was quite a tour! Nice photos. You have impelled me to try to get there – before Obama leaves.

  2. It’s like walking back in time 200 years! So much history and heritage within those four walls! What an experience it must have been! Great article Marcia!

  3. Marcia, I didn’t even know you are able to tour the White House. That is good to know. I did an internship around DC many years ago. It is a great place to visit. I am itching to go again (this time with my husband).

  4. I am surprised they allow a self-guided tour of the White House. It looks grand but not overly ostentatious. I too thought it would be a lot more difficult to arrange.

  5. Lucky you! We have been to DC several times but have yet to visit the White house. This was a great virtual tour of the White House. I love seeing all those rooms and their history and purpose. What a great opportunity.

  6. I am officially jealous. I really wanted to tour the White House when we were in Washington, D.C. over Thanksgiving break. Although I submitted my request to my senator a few months in advance, we didn’t receive notice until 3 weeks before our trip that we didn’t get tickets. So we had to make do with peering through the fence. I’m very glad to get a glimpse of the inside through your photos. Looks like a great experience. Maybe next time…

  7. I haven’t visited the White House in years, and as I was reading your post and looking through your photos I was taken back to its history and elegance. I remember loving the room with all of the fine china, and I admired you for mentioning it in your post! Exploring the White House can be just as exciting as visiting any palace in Europe.

  8. Your photos are great and tell us so much more about this important historic building. Wow – lots of rules about what you can or cannot do, which is understandable… but no talking or texting??

  9. That was a bit surprising but I imagine they don’t want anyone communicating or coordinating with people outside. Sadly it’s the world we live in now.

  10. You chose a very beautiful tine of year to visit Washington DC. I did this tour about 10 years ago and I remember very vividly all the details that you describe in your post. I have to say, visiting this unique “residence” was quite an experience.

  11. The China Room wasn’t part of our tour, Brooke, however there was China displayed in the Ground Floor corridor.
    I agree: visiting the White House can be as exciting as visiting a palace in Europe.

  12. Loved this tour of the White House. The house is very stately with beautiful gardens, just as I imagined it would be. We have travelled to New York twice and Boston once and I really wish that we had taken the time to check out Washington.

  13. It looks nothing like the house in Scandal. LOL. I didn’t think the pieces in it would be so dated, I would love to do the tour.

  14. I have been to the White House a couple of times, but not for over 10 years now and it was nice to see some photos of your recent tour! I think back then we visited many more rooms, as I remember the Lincoln Bedroom being a highlight. I imagine with stricter security it is more difficult to book the more expanded tours. Definitely worth doing the expanded tour if you can arrange it.

  15. Hi Jessica, thanks for visiting and commenting.
    You were lucky to see the Lincoln Bedroom when you did as I don’t think it’s part of the tour anymore. There is stricter security now and for several years, the White House was closed to visitors.

  16. Lol, I forgot about Scandal, Rachel! I think you see more of the South Wing on the show. We were in the North Wing.
    Hope you get to do the tour one of these days.

  17. The Obamas reopened the White House to the public after they took office so make sure to put in your request to see it when you visit Washington next year. Hopefully, the next administration will continue to keep it open.

  18. It was closed to visitor for a while, Ruth, but the president reopened it after he took office in 2008.
    You should go back for a visit and definitely take your husband. Oh, btw, DC has changed – it’s hardly recognizable because of all the construction.

  19. The White House tour is a great thing to do in DC. I had my tour during the Clinton Administration. Didn’t see President Clinton, but I did see Buddy, the dog! I waited a 2-3 hours outside to get in for my tour, but it was totally worth it.

  20. Hahaha, you got pretty close, Cathy! We were on the elevator that started to close when a man tried to get on. The guide we were with mentioned that it was Bo’s handler. That’s as close as we got.
    One of my fears was the wait but thankfully, we didn’t have to wait at all.

Comments are closed.