How Can I Tour the White House in Washington, DC?

Everything you need to know about planning a visit to the country’s most famous house., requesting a white house tour.

Touring the White House requires some advance planning. Public tour requests must be made through your member of Congress ( find your member of Congress and contact information ) and submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days prior to your visit. If you're an international visitor and wish to schedule a tour, please contact your home country’s embassy in Washington, DC.

You are encouraged to submit your tour request as early as possible as tours fill up quickly and a limited number of spaces are available. Tours are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. All White House tours are free. Please note tours are subject to last-minute cancellations based on the official White House schedule.

Public, self-guided tours are 45 minutes and are run between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays unless otherwise noted. For complete details on White House tours, visit the White House tours and events page or call the White House Visitors Office 24-hour information line at (202) 456-7041. The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Touring the White House - Washington, DC

Touring the White House - Washington, DC

What to expect on a White House tour

If there is a tour slot available during your visit to DC, you will be given a specific date and time to arrive and be instructed on where to check in. All guests over 18 years old will be required to present a valid, government-issued photo ID upon check-in. Foreign nationals must present their passport. Please bring as little as possible (avoid backpacks, food, large handbags, bottled water, etc.). Note that smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches are permitted on the public tour route, but video recording devices and flash photography are not allowed inside the White House. Visitors will go through security prior to entering the White House. There are no restrooms available at the White House. The closest restroom is located at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion nearby.

Public tours of the White House include the public rooms in the East Wing, which includes the Blue Room, Red Room and Green Room; the State Dining Room; the China Room; and a view of the White House Rose Garden. Secret Service members are stationed in each room and are available to answer questions about the history and architecture of each room.

You can also visit the White House Visitor Center   before or after your tour.

The White House - North Lawn and Entrance - Washington, DC

Stephen Melkisethian

How to get to the White House

The closest Metro stations to the White House are Federal Triangle (Blue and Orange lines), Metro Center (Blue, Orange and Red lines) and McPherson Square (Blue and Orange lines). Please note there is NO PARKING near the White House. Public transportation is strongly encouraged.

@abroadwife - View of National Mall from South Lawn during White House Garden Tour - Free activities in Washington, DC

@abroadwife

How to tour the White House Garden

Another opportunity to visit the White House is to attend either its fall or spring garden tour. Check whitehouse.gov in early October and April. The announcement of the garden tours is usually made within a week or two of when they take place. Garden tours generally run for two consecutive days. They may be canceled due to poor weather. A ticket is required for all attendees (including small children). Usually, tickets are distributed by the National Park Service at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion on 15th and E streets NW on each tour day beginning at 9 a.m. Review the announcement for specific details.

Will I still be able to see the White House without going on a tour?

While visitors are not allowed entry to the White House without requesting a tour through your congressional representative, you will still be able to see the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue NW at Lafayette Square and view the White House and the South Lawn from the Ellipse. Please note that a new fence is currently under construction at the White House, as the current 6-foot fence is being replaced by a stronger, wider fence that will be 13 feet.

Where can I store my belongings during the tour?

It is important to note that security at the White House is extremely high. If your hotel is nearby, we suggest leaving your belongings in your room during the tour. If this is not possible, there are a few other options. You can designate one member of your tour group to hold everyone’s belongings. That person can take the self-guided tour once his or her group has finished the tour.

If you're a ticketed Amtrak customer, you may be able to check luggage in advance at  Union Station . These are located near Gate A. Lockers are available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. A photo ID is required and lockers must be paid for via cash or credit in advance. Rates are $3-$6 per hour per bag depending on the size of your bag. For questions on bag storage, please call 202-906-3000.

Catch up on White House history with the free podcas t The 1600 Sessions and enhance your trip with the  White House Experience app  from the White House Historical Association. The app offers three tour experiences, including a virtual tour of the White House (with rooms you normally don't see on the tour), a neighborhood walking tour and a room-by-room guide for visitors on an in-person tour of the White House.

Now that you have read up on the White House, explore DC’s other awesome  monuments and memorials .

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White House Tour 2024

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Map of White House Grounds

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White House Tour Photos

The White House lifted its longstanding camera and photo ban on public tours. Guests are now welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and are encouraged to share their photos using the hashtag #WhiteHouseTour . Phones and compact still cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches are allowed.

White House tour photogallery

White House Virtual Tour

Click on the arrow to begin your virtual tour of the White House or take the Google narrated virtual tour .

White House Tour Tickets

White House West Wing entrance

West Wing Tours

From the west wing tour booklet:.

"In 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt relocated his office from the second floor of the residence to this newly constructed building. The West Wing has expanded and undergone several renovations since then, but it has remained the official workplace of the President. In our country, the halls of government are not reserved for a privileged few, and the President’s workplace should be no exception."

West Wing Tour Map

White House West Wing map - White House Mess, Situation Room, Rose Garden, Oval Office, Cabinet Room, Roosevelt Room, West Wing Lobby, Press briefing room

White House West Wing Tour Photos

White House West Wing tours photogallery

Official List of West Wing Tour Participants

West Wing tours visitors list

View the current White House Visitor Logs

White House Spring Garden Tour and Fall Garden Tour

If you have children, you can enter the Easter Egg Roll lottery for a chance to attend the Easter Egg Roll held every Spring on the South Lawn of the White House.

White House Tour Security

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White House Public Tour Tickets

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This post is an article on how to get White House tour tickets, plus tips for planning your visit, such as tips for dealing with security.

How to apply for tickets is a common question from visitors on our walking tours.

However, if you are asking one of our tour guides after arriving in Washington, DC, you are definitely too late.

So, we've created this post to help you secure tickets plus plan your visit, both before and after your tour.

The White House is open to public tours usually from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday, except for Federal Holidays.

Reservations must be arranged in advance.

It is hard to get a White House tour but the further in advance you request and the more flexibility you offer in dates, the better your chances.

These are to tour the main building, West Wing tours are a different experience and even harder to get tickets. I was lucky enough to get a West Wing tour if you want to see photos!

There is no cost to tour the White House, but you will need to apply for free tickets. Both U.S. nationals and foreign visitors can tour the White House.

To visit the White House, it's important to know that you must  reserve your tickets in advance ,   MONTHS in advance. 

You can submit a request for White House tours up to 3 months in advance and must do so no later than 3 weeks.

Don’t apply early or late or you risk having your request automatically denied.

You can increase your odds of getting a White House tour by requesting a reservation as soon as you possibly can.

For U.S. citizens and residents, requests must go through the office of the Member of Congress for your district ( find your Member here ).

How to Get White House Tour Tickets

If you are coming during the peak tourism seasons of March-April or June-August, we recommend closer to the 3-month mark.

The White House only accepts requests between 21-90 days before your requested dates.

If you are from a foreign country, you are advised to go through your embassy in Washington D.C. Not all embassies will be interested or helpful in the request.

However, nothing stops you from requesting a tour through any Member of Congress.

There is no real requirement that you be a resident of their district or state to do so. Therefore, it's worth a try.  

Most will ask you for contact information at home and during your stay in DC, dates available for tours, and the total number of persons in your group.

You'll also be required to provide information for security clearance, including:

  • Date of Birth
  • Social Security Number (only U.S. residents 18 and older)
  • Citizenship
  • City, State of Residence

Washington DC Walking Tours

How long before I hear back about my White House request?

Typically, once you have submitted your visitor info, you will receive an email two weeks before your requested dates informing you if you were selected for a tour.

If you do NOT get approved, the communication varies and depends. Some people have gotten rejection letters and some have just never heard back.

Assume if you haven't heard back a few days prior to your trip that you were not approved.

You can also visit the White House Visitor Center . It's actually a few blocks from the White House, but it's a great alternative to interior tours.

You can always see the White House from the street, as well.

There are a number of great views of the White House that we talk about - but the closest is from Pennsylvania Avenue NW by Lafayette Square.

But, if you are accepted, then read on for tips on planning your trip.

  • Plan Your Visit
  • Virtual Tour
  • Visitor Center
  • Things to Do in DC
  • Free Tours by Foot

PLAN YOUR VISIT

In this section, we go over where to enter the White House grounds, how to get there, as well as security and prohibited items . 

WHITE HOUSE TOUR ENTRANCE

We strongly recommend using our Google Maps for directions to the tour entry point . 

There is no White House Metro Station.

The closest metro stop to the tour entrance is Metro Center ( red , orange , blue, and silver lines ) (take the 13 th Street exit), which is just a 7-minute walk.

How to get to the White House Tour

When you come up the escalators, you will be facing 13th Street.

Take 13th Street southbound (downhill) and make a right turn on E Street and proceed straight until you reach 15th Street.  

McPherson Square Metro station ( orange , blue, and silver lines)  is also close to the White House.

McPherson Square Metro to White House

Public transportation is recommended for reaching the White House.

If you must drive, you can find a parking spot at a nearby garage through a service called SpotHero .

Washington DC Travel Tips and Hacks

This website allows you to reserve guaranteed parking spots ahead of time, often for a cheaper price than the garage itself would charge.

If you've been granted a tour, you need to arrive before your meeting time at the visitors' entrance.

Note: This is NOT at the Visitor Center.

Click here for a 360-degree view .

Entry Line for White House Tour

The tour lines up along 15th Street NW on the west side of the street by the William Tecumseh Sherman Statue.

It's across the street from where Pennsylvania Avenue NW dead-ends at 15th St NW.

You'll check in with the National Park Service Park Ranger standing guard outside the temporary fence.

There is no specific street address or sign - you just have to know you're in the right place, but since there is often a line it should be easy to spot.

You can click on the 360-degree view to familiarize yourself with the surrounding area. 

SECURITY AND PROHIBITED ITEMS

Security is a concern everywhere in Washington, but nowhere more than in the White House.

You will need a valid government-issued photo ID or passport to gain entry into the White House for every member of your group. Foreign nationals must use their passport.

You will have to stand in line for security, so make sure to arrive at least half an hour before your tour time. (longer in peak seasons, or with a group).  

WHITE HOUSE DRESS CODE

There is no dress code to tour the White House, but due to the importance of the building, you should want to dress neatly.

The list of what you can’t bring into the White House is extensive:

  • no video devices; video cameras including any action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods, and camera sticks are not permitted. Video recording is not permitted.
  • no strollers.
  • no food, beverages, tobacco products, liquids, gels, or lotions.
  • no guns, firearms, knives, other sharp objects, martial arts equipment, etc.
  • no purses, backpacks, handbags, etc.   * If you need a place to store these kinds of items, some nearby hotel concierges may be willing to store the bags for a small fee.

The list of things you can bring to the White House is not extensive:

  • umbrellas 

Cameras are now permitted on tour!

Smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches (stills only) are permitted on the public tour route as long as their use does not interfere with other guests’ enjoyment of the tour. 

Flash photography or live streaming as well as talking or texting on cellular phones is not permitted while on the tour.

Where can I leave the rest of my belongings while I tour the White House?

If you can't leave your belongings at your hotel, then consider storage facilities.

For $6/bag for up to 24 hours, you can store your bags in nearby stores, souvenir shops, and even other hotels.

Once you are inside, the tour is self-guided and will take about half an hour.

NOTE: There are no restrooms on the White House tour.

Though the White House has 132 rooms in total, you are only shown through several rooms that they use for entertaining. 

You will NOT see the family living quarters, the Oval Office, or the West Wing ( read about my experience of the West Wing tour! ) So, don't expect to meet President Joe Biden on your White House Tour.

Small tip: there are secret service agents in every room, you can interact with them and ask them questions, they are usually really nice and very informative.

After you line up along 15th Street, you'll have your reservation checked and then line up again for an ID check.

You'll cross a street and then have your ID checked again.

white house visit cost

All of these checks are outdoors so keep that in mind when preparing for your visit - you're outside for around 30 minutes before your tour.

You then go through security to enter the East Wing of the White House.

What Will I See on a Public Tour of the White House?

The tour is self-guided though there are occasionally guards who can answer some questions.

Each room has a placard or two explaining what you're seeing with some information.

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The tour is self-paced and you can go back if needed to previous rooms, but you will not be able to exit the building and reenter.

You will see the East Garden from the hallway, the movie theatre, the China Room, the Vermeil Room, the East Room, the Green Room, the Blue Room, the Red Room, and the State Dining Room.

Throughout you'll also see a number of presidential portraits.

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There is a gift shop inside the White House that sells the famous White House Christmas ornament and many other items from the White House Historical Association.

You'll exit the White House from what used to be the primary entrance facing the North Lawn and exit out the gates by the Lafayette Statue.

Will I See the President on a White House Tour?

You are unlikely to meet the President or First Lady on the White House tour, but you never know who you might see at the White House complex, including cabinet members or prominent visitors.

VIRTUAL TOURS OF THE WHITE HOUSE

These videos offer virtual tours inside various parts of the White House that you do not get to see on White House public tours.

Inside the Residence

Tour of the West Wing

Video Tour of the Situation Room

Learn About the West Wing Marines

Watch Marine One Land on South Lawn

You will see many helicopters during your visit to Washington, D.C. and they usually won't be transporting the President.

Most of the helicopters fly along the National Mall - over the Tidal Basin and Potomac River.

When you see three helicopters fly across the National Mall, right past the Washington Monument (that is why there are the red flashing lights on the top), one of those is Marine One.

So how do you watch Marine One take off/land?

For advance planning, you can keep an eye on the President's Schedule. It will give an approximate time when the president departs the South Lawn.

Keep in mind, it sometimes is early or late and they don't give any warning!

Marine One is often used to transport the President to Joint Base Andrews to board Air Force One.

If you're already in the area, you might notice some of the ways they prepare for Marine One:

  • Snipers are always on the roof of the White House, but when the President is leaving the White House, you'll also see them on the corners of area buildings.
  • Two decoy/escort helicopters will accompany Marine One but not land. You will always see a group of three helicopters.
  • The walkway to the South Lawn fence is closed. While you're normally can walk right up to the South Lawn fence, they won't let you get that close when Marine One is landing.

Marine One

Where to stand to watch Marine One land?

The best place to watch Marine One land if you want to be as close as possible is on the south side of the White House, an area called The Ellipse.

Normally, the circular sidewalk that forms the ellipse is open to the public but when the President is leaving - the side closest to the White House is closed.

You can, however, walk directly on the grass to the center of the Ellipse.

If you line yourself up with the Washington Monument behind you and the White House South Lawn Fountain in front of you, the helicopter will fly right over your head!

If you want to watch Marine One with some DC landmarks in the frame, stand at the WWII Memorial, facing the Washington Monument.

The three helicopters will fly in front of the Washington Monument lining up for a great photo op.

What kind of helicopter is Marine One?

Officially, any helicopter that the President is on is Marine One.

That is the call sign for any USMC aircraft that has the President on board, just like Air Force one denotes whatever plane is carrying the President.

It is usually operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1 "Nighthawks"), only four pilots have this honor every year.

The type of helicopter is often a VH-3D Sea King:

white house visit cost

or the VH-60N "WhiteHawk"

white house visit cost

Marine One helicopters have standard military anti-missile countermeasures, and ballistic armor and can continue to fly even if it loses one of the three engines.

It can fit 14 passengers but is quiet enough that the President can use a normal tone of voice on his secure line to the White House.

NOTE: A few times a year when the President is out of the country, you will see a helicopter take off and land on the South Lawn on repeat for about half an hour - this is training!

The President isn't actually on the helicopter - but your Instagram followers won't know that!

THE WHITE HOUSE VISITOR CENTER:

After an extensive revamping, the White House Visitor Center is now open again to the public.  

Read our overview of the museum and visitor center for more information.

The restoration work took over 2 years and cost $12.5 million, much of which came from private donations through the White House Historical Association.

There are over 90 new artifacts on display, many of which have never before been on display.

Some of our favorites are the desk that Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat at when he delivered his famous fireside chats and a scaled model of the White House.

Within the White House Visitor Center, you can watch a 14-minute film that takes you inside the White House and the lives of the First Families. 

Allow anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour for your visit here.

VISITOR TIP : The White House Visitor Center has a great gift shop. There is also a gift shop at 701 15th St NW called White House Gifts. Here can take a photo of yourself sitting behind a replica of the Presidential desk in the Oval Office!

Related Content:

  • How to Get Tickets to the Washington Monument
  • How to Tour the U.S. Capitol Building
  • Can I tour the FBI Building?
  • Watch Marine One Land on the White House Lawn
  • White House Garden Tours
  • White House Christmas Tours
  • Easter Egg Roll

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How to Visit the White House: A Local’s Guide

So, you want to visit DC’s favorite postcard spot, aka The White House. Scoring a tour of the halls of executive power may not be quite as easy as visiting a Smithsonian Museum or even the U.S. Capitol, but it’s definitely possible with a little advance knowledge of how to get in and how to visit the White House.

If a DC trip is in your near future and your heart is set on visiting the President’s Palace, you may want to leave a little extra time to get the necessary credentials to get in. With that in mind, here are my best tips for winning a White House tour to remember.

Reminder: check openings, hours and dates before visiting any attractions in Washington, D.C.

White House in Washington DC USA

How to Visit the White House

Requesting a tour of the white house.

Booking your White House tour is not quite as simple as grabbing a ticket online. If you’re wondering how to get a tour of the White House, keep in mind that you’ll need to send a request to your state’s Congressperson to be granted access. If you’re coming from outside the U.S., you should reach out to the embassy of your home country in Washington.

You can find your local Congressperson and their contact information based upon your home zip code at the “Find Your Representative” page of the official U.S. House of Representatives website . Many Congress members already have a page on their websites dedicated to requesting a White House visit because of the volume of requests they receive.

You’ll want to be specific in your email about the days you are available to take the White House tour, as you may not get your first choice.

As previously mentioned, leave a large window of time between initially requesting a tour and the date you plan to visit the White House. The White House’s official site says requests should be submitted no less than 21 days and no more than three months in advance of your White House visit, and I recommend leaning towards the latter part of that range.

The approval waiting period depends on a lot of factors, but responses are usually returned around two weeks before your tour day. If you are approved, an invitation will come back with a specific time and date of your visit.

Along with guidelines and rules for the visit, your acceptance email will also contain a link that will prompt you to enter in names and information for all guests that will come with you. Most importantly, double check that the information you submit matches exactly to the information on the government-issued I.D. that you plan to bring to your visit. If in doubt, call the White House’s 24-hour information line at (202) 456-7041.

Make sure you send back any information requested in your invitation email as soon as possible; tour spots are in high demand, and your spot could go to someone else if you wait too long to reply.

White House in Washington DC USA

What To Bring to the white house

The main rule for a visit to the White House: take as little as possible! Because of the strict rules, you’ll want to only take the bare necessities to ensure you’re not asked by security to throw anything out. When in doubt, leave it at the hotel!

Prohibited items include backpacks, bags, strollers, any food or drink, and any liquid or aerosol containers. You can bring in compact cameras with lenses less than 3 inches long, but no video cameras or anything with a flash.

If that’s not possible, you can check out some of the luggage storage services by reservation in the area. Vertoe charges $6.95 per item stored for a day and has a storage location of around half a mile from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, with the exact address available upon confirmation. StoreMe and Luggage Hero are two other sites that partner with nearby hotels to offer bag storage.

Make sure you take some time searching through the storage options available, as some prices can run extremely high, especially during tourist season.

You will be asked to present a non-expired, government-issued I.D. as you enter. That includes passports, drivers’ licenses, and military I.D.’s. 

I recommend coming in with just a phone and wallet if you can manage it!

White House in Washington DC USA

How to get to the White House

You’ll want to arrive at the White House around 15-30 minutes before your tour is set to start. That will most likely be between the self-guided tour hours of 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. from Tuesday to Thursday, and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday or Saturday.

Luckily, the White House is near the centerpoint of DC public transportation, so getting there is a piece of cake. If you plan to travel by Metrorail, you can take the Red line to Farragut North and walk south across Farragut Square. Alternatively, take the Blue, Silver or Orange lines, get off at McPherson Square, and head Southwest.

Theoretically, it is possible to find street parking around downtown D.C., but it won’t be easy. There are a few private parking structures scattered around, like those of Colonial Parking, but costs run ridiculously high ($12 an hour!). I highly recommend relying on D.C.’s clean and efficient Metro system and leaving the car at home.

If you’re not pressed for time, the White House Visitor Center , located at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave. at the Southeastern corner of the White House lawn, is worth a stop.

The Center offers engaging exhibits featuring more than 100 historical artifacts, archival footage and photos, and all the materials you need to brush up on your White House trivia, not to mention all the DC souvenirs you could possibly want. Notably, the Center has a cap of 100 visitor capacity at a time, and requires visitors to pass through a security checkpoint.

Before making your way to the entrance, don’t forget to make a bathroom stop! The White House Visitor Center has a bathroom, as well as the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion, across 15th and down E Street.

Also keep in mind that texting and talking on the phone are not permitted on White House tours, so get your communications out of the way before entering.

White House in Washington DC USA

How to see the White House White House Tour Route

Tours begin at the East wing. That means most visitors will enter the grounds at New York Avenue and 15th Street, right in front of the Treasury Department. Make sure you check the instructions of your invitation email carefully for your exact entrance instructions.

White House tours follow a set mapped route. You will start in the Visitors Foyer of the East Wing and then pass through the East Colonnade, with the opportunity to see the Family Movie Theater. From there, head through the East Garden Room into the Library, China, and Vermeil Rooms before climbing the stairs.

On the State Floor, you’ll tour the East, Green, Blue, and Red Rooms, then the State and Old Family Dining Rooms, before passing through the Cross Hall to exit. The route is fully equipped with ramps and elevators to accommodate visitors using wheelchairs.

Most importantly, before a visit, I highly recommend setting aside some time for casual research of the White House’s artwork, history, and what’s on display. There is a lot of material available, and knowing what you most want to see and what most interests you greatly enhances the tour!

I would consult the White House Info page for up-to-date information on tour routes and offerings. The official site of the White House Historical Association is another excellent resource for more in-depth information on White House history and decorations, from the story behind Lincoln’s portrait in the State Dining Room to President Truman’s extensive renovations.

You can also download the White House Experience app , which has up-to-date maps and information on the building, as well as 360-degree virtual tours of every room and gives you excellent tips on how to tour the White House.

Now you’re ready for an exciting tour of DC’s most famous spot. Enjoy your peek behind the presidential curtain!

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Looking for a  Washington DC Hotel ? 

  • Hotel Hive   – Affordable, trendy, pet-friendly hotel
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  • Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC   – DC luxury at it’s best
  • Kimpton Hotel George   – Great for families and pets
  • Willard InterContinental Washington   – Historic hotel right near the White House

Need a car? Get the best rental car rates HERE .

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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the White House in Washington, D.C. [Includes Virtual Tour]

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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the White House in Washington, D.C. [Includes Virtual Tour]

History of the White House

Planning your visit, on the day of your tour, the white house experience mobile app (virtual tour), white house garden tour, the white house easter egg roll, what to see at the visitor center, when to visit, the northern trail, the southern trail, other landmarks and buildings, the north side from pennsylvania avenue, 20 facts about the white house, hotels near the white house, final thoughts.

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As the official residence and workplace of the President of the United States, the White House is one of the most easily recognizable and iconic buildings in the world. Home to every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800, the White House is a historically and culturally important building that attracts millions of visitors all year round.

The site for the White House was selected by George Washington back in 1791, with the cornerstone laid by Irish-born architect James Hoban 1 year later. The extensive and ambitious build took 8 years to complete, and although it was Washington that commissioned it, he sadly died before it was completed.

Originally known as the President’s House, it was the second President of the United States, President John Adams, and his wife that were the first to take up residence there . However, much of the original building was destroyed by a fire set by rampaging Brits in 1814. The newly built house was completed some 4 years later, and it has been called home by a succession of presidents and their families ever since.

During the early 20th century, various additions were made to the building, including the iconic West Wing that houses the Oval Office, the Cabinet Room, the Situation Room, and the Roosevelt Room, among others. During the Great Depression, the White House suffered neglect as a result of dwindling funding, and urgent renovations were needed during the 1940s.

Now one of the most well-cared for and loved buildings in America, the White House as we know it today is home to 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, and 6 levels in residence , as well as 412 doors, 147 windows, 28 fireplaces, 8 staircases, and 3 elevators. Anyone visiting the capital city of Washington, D.C., should definitely try to pay a visit.

White House Illustration

Getting to the White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is probably one of the most famous addresses in the world. Taking a trip to visit the sprawling presidential home and offices is easy using almost any route.

There is a Metrobus stop located on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 14th Street, which is the closest stop to the White House Visitor Center. Pennsylvania Avenue Line numbers 30, 32, 34, 35, and 36 all stop there.

Union Station is around 1.5 miles away from the Visitor Center. Heading northeast along Massachusetts Avenue, you can take in the city as you walk there, or hop on the shuttle bus that leaves from outside the station every 10 minutes.

The Blue, Silver, and Orange lines stop at Farragut West, McPherson Square, or Metro Center stations, all of which are within easy walking distance of the Visitor Center.

There are several parking lots that are located close to the White House Visitor Center, but spaces can be difficult to find and expensive. Downtown D.C. is also rated as one of the worst cities for traffic in the U.S. , so it may be quicker to walk or use public transport than try to undertake the journey by car.

How to Schedule a Tour of the White House

The White House is one of the most popular landmark attractions in the world. Every year, demand for tours outstrips the available places, so before your head off, make sure you know the best ways to maximize your chances of getting a tour inside the world-famous White House.

In order to visit the rooms that are available for public inspection at the White House, you will need to book a tour in advance . Tours are free of charge and self-guided , but you must request permission to visit at least 3 weeks in advance of your arrival in order to receive clearance from the U.S. Secret Service.

You can request tours up to 3 months in advance via your member of Congress , but there is no guarantee that your request will be accepted.

The self-guided tours run from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, but these timings can be subject to change depending on the White House schedules and events. Tours can also be canceled without prior notice, so be prepared.

Tours run in groups of 10 , and you will be placed in a group with other visitors before arrival if there are not enough in your own party. You will need to submit information about every member of your party, including their address, phone number, date of birth, Social Security number, and country of citizenship.

You will need to show your ID upon arrival, and your ID must exactly match all of the information you submitted in your application . A valid U.S. government-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or military ID, is acceptable for U.S. nationals, as are valid U.S. passports.

Overseas Nationals

If you are planning on visiting the White House from overseas, you will need to contact your home country’s embassy in Washington, D.C. to submit a tour request before your departure. Foreign nationals must present their passport — no other forms of foreign ID will be considered as acceptable.

update:  The Trump administration has put tour requests for overseas nationals on hold until further notice.

Disabilities

If you or anyone in your group is hearing, visually, or mobility impaired, their needs can usually be catered for through your member of Congress, or via your embassy. There is also a TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf) at the Visitor Center, which can be contacted at 202-456-2121. Guide animals are permitted in the White House.

If you need the use of a wheelchair during your visit, you can request the loan of a wheelchair at the Visitor Entrance upon arrival. Unfortunately, reservations are not possible , but if you are able to secure one, there is a ramp to allow access to the entrance on the ground floor, and an elevator to take you from the ground floor to the State floor.

Hot Tip: While no tour company can get you access to the White House, you can take the popular hop-on, hop-off tour of Washington, D.C . on the red loop which takes in the White House, U.S. Capitol, and many more landmarks. 

The White House

If you are successful in your application to book a tour of the White House, there are further instructions and guidelines to consider on the day.

Firstly, you should plan to get to President’s Park 15-30 minutes before your tour is due to start . This will allow plenty of time for presenting your ID to officers, taking toilet breaks, and ensuring that you don’t have prohibited items in your bag. Better still, if you arrive an hour or so before your allocated tour time, you can take in the exhibits and watch a video of the White House at the Visitor Center.

You will enter the White House by the south side of East Executive Avenue near the Southeast Gate , where National Park Service rangers will be on hand to assist you.

As you would expect, security is tight in and around the White House. Visitors must adhere to strict rules about what they can and can’t take with them during the tour.

Prohibited items include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Video cameras and cameras with detachable lenses
  • Tablets and iPads
  • Tripods, monopods, selfie sticks, and camera sticks
  • Any bags, including handbags, purses, book bags, backpacks, diaper bags, and camera bags
  • Any pointed object or sharp objects
  • Food and liquids
  • Aerosols and personal grooming items such as makeup or lotion
  • Guns, ammunition, fireworks, electric stun guns, and mace
  • Martial arts weapons or toy weapons

You should also note that there are no storage facilities at the White House , so if you accidentally bring prohibited items with you, there is nowhere to leave them, and you will be denied entry to the tour. Leave everything on the above list back at home or in your hotel room.

There are certain items that you can take with you on your tour, but they may be subject to usage limitations. These include:

  • Compact cameras (can be used for still photography only, no video recording or streaming, and all lenses must be less than 3 inches long)
  • Umbrellas without metal tips
  • Cell phones (remember, though, that talking or texting is not allowed, and phones must be on silent)
  • All items needed for medical purposes will be permitted, including wheelchairs, electronic scooters, glucose tablets, EpiPens, medication, etc.)

Hot Tip: Before and during the tour, you are at the mercy of government officers. In some circumstances, the U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit any other personal items that you may be carrying.

The White House Experience Mobile App

In these tech-friendly times, smartphone users will be delighted to know that there is a White House Experience Mobile App that you can download to enhance your experience during your visit.

Available on both iOS and Android , this is a useful tool for visitors who have not been successful in finding a place on an official tour, as well as those who have. Users can enjoy a virtual tour of the White House and the surrounding President’s Neighborhood, as well as taking a tour through the history of the White House and how its customs have evolved.

There are also a number of fun features to raise a smile. Snap a selfie with the Presidential Lookalike feature, or take the opportunity to virtually pilot the presidential helicopter around Washington, D.C., using the Fly Like Ike feature.

The Virtual White House tour offers visitors a glimpse of the interiors of the public areas including the East Wing, Family Theater, Library, Vermeil Room, China Room, Diplomatic Reception Room, Map Room, State Floor, as well as the famous rooms of the West Wing such as the Oval Office, Cabinet Room, and Press Room.

You can also sneak a peek into some of the upper floors, including the Treaty Room, the Lincoln Bedroom, the Queen’s Bedroom, and the President’s Dining Room.

While you are out and about, why not try the White House Neighborhood Walking Tour that provides turn-by-turn navigation of the President’s Neighborhood.

This tour stops at a range of historic landmarks, including Decatur House, Lafayette Square, St. John’s Church, Treasury Building, North Lawn, Blair House, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, South Lawn and Ellipse, and the White House Visitor Center. The app also provides information on points of interest at each of these locations.

Melania Trump White House Kitchen Garden

During the spring and fall, the White House opens its stunning and extensive gardens to visitors. With the sun shining on Washington, D.C., garden lovers can stroll through the White House Kitchen Garden, the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, and South Lawn of the White House, while taking in the tranquil surroundings just outside the home of democracy.

The Spring Garden Tour usually takes place on a single weekend in April, while the Fall Garden Tour will is held over a weekend in September. Both White House Garden Tours are free and open to the public, but they are only open to ticket holders.

Tickets can only be obtained on the day , but there are often long queues of people waiting to get hold of them. Every member of your group must wait in-person to receive their ticket, and tours are timed throughout the day. Children are welcome to join you on your tour, but they will need their own ticket, and there are plenty of plaques and information points to take in during your self-guided tour of the gardens.

The White House Gardens are home to over 50 different kinds of vegetables, as well as berries, herbs, and even a beehive . In 2009, first lady Michelle Obama planted the Kitchen Garden in conjunction with her Let’s Move! Initiative that focused on health and well-being in America. To this day, the White House cooks still use fresh fruit, vegetable, and herbs that are grown there when cooking for the first family and their guests.

The Rose Garden is famous for the lush green lawn often seen in outdoor press conferences, and it can be found just outside the West Wing in view of the Oval Office. The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden is dedicated to the former first lady herself, and the wide-open lawns and gorgeous borders are often used for parties, teas, and awards ceremonies.

The South Lawn is where the president departs and lands on the official presidential helicopter, Marine One, and is also where the famous annual Easter Egg Roll is held. It is also home to a range of magnolia trees that were first planted by President Andrew Jackson back in the 1800s.

Hot Tip: Visitors are welcome to take photos during the tour and are encouraged to share them on Instagram using the #WHGARDEN hashtag to share the beauty of the White House Gardens with the world.

white house easter egg roll

Often drawing as many as 35,000 parents and children on the South Lawn, the world-famous White House Easter Egg Roll is one of the most exciting events of the White House calendar.

This time-honored tradition was first established by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878 . What initially started as a few local families rolling eggs outside the White House on the first Monday after Easter , was extended when the growing crowds convinced President Hayes to invite young children to roll eggs inside the grounds of the White House Lawn instead.

If it hadn’t have been this kind gesture by the then president, the Egg Roll might never have happened, as members of Congress had already passed an Act banning egg rolling outside the White House as they deemed it be too disruptive.

The White House Easter Bunny holds celebrity status, and the giant 6-foot bunny suit has often worn by members of Congress, first wives, and a range of famous celebrities.

Anyone wanting to come and join in the fun must enter a lottery for a place. Children under 13 years are encouraged to attend, and the event is designed to promote healthy and active living. The lottery is usually held during February , and winners are notified via email the following month. There is no charge to enter the lottery , and attendance is literally by the luck of the draw.

Hot Tip: Commemorative White House Easter eggs can be purchased from the White House Historical Association online store and feature the president’s and the first lady’s signatures.

White House Visitor Center

White House Visitor Center

Located at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave., the White House Visitor Center is a great place to visit to find out about the history of the building itself, as well as discovering the customs and events that the White House is so famous for.

Offering just shy of 1,600 square feet of museum-quality exhibits and galleries , there is always something new to see at the Visitor Center. There are nearly 100 famous historical artifacts on display, including President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s desk and a host of other interesting pieces, many of which have never been on public display before.

The Visitor Center is also home to a large-scale model of the White House and a number of interactive exhibits , including a touch screen tour of the interior.

One of the biggest highlights is a 14-minute film, “White House: Reflections From Within,” that is shown every 20 minutes. It features Presidents Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and a few first ladies and other family members reminiscing about their time in the White House. This is a popular attraction within the Visitor Center and a must-see whether you have managed to secure a place on a White House tour or not.

The White House Visitor Center is operated by the National Park Service . It is housed in historic Baldrige Hall in the Department of Commerce building. In 2014, the center was renovated to offer extra space in which to house a permanent museum gallery, a temporary exhibit area, an improved book sales area, and further visitor information facilities.

The White House Visitor Center is open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day . It is free to enter and can be visited in conjunction with a White House tour if you are lucky enough to get on one, or as a stand-alone attraction.

President ’s Park

White House Aerial View

Located at the heart of downtown Washington, D.C., President’s Park offers 82 acres of stunning open space that includes the parkland and gardens surrounding the White House . The park is home to some of the most famous statues, memorials, and structures in Washington, D.C., and the park is open to visitors all year round.

Throughout the years, the President’s Park has played host to many important events in history. These include marches and rallies held by suffragettes, freedom fighters, and anti-war protestors, as well as welcoming thousands of visitors to enjoy the annual Easter Egg Roll and the lighting of the National Christmas Tree.

The National Park Service promotes 2 very distinct sides of the park for visitors to explore.

Beginning at the White House Visitor Center, visitors can proceed up to 15th Street to Lafayette Park on the Northern Trail . First opened in the 1820s, and redesigned in the 1960s, the park has been used as a race track, a slave market, an encampment for soldiers, and many other things along the way.

The park is also home to St. John’s Church, often referred to as the “Church of the Presidents,” and the whole area became a designated National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Statues and Monuments

The park is home to a number of statues that commemorate the many heroes who helped America during times of war. These include:

General Sherman Statue

Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman has his very own bronze statue that features a square platform with a bronze soldier at each corner. These represent the 4 branches of the U.S. Army: infantry, artillery, cavalry, and engineers.

General Lafayette Statue

Located at the southeast corner of Lafayette Square, this bronze statue was erected in 1891 and portrayed the Marquis de Lafayette petitioning the French National Assembly for assistance to the Americans in their fight for independence. On an adjoining pedestal, there is a bronze female figure, symbolizing America, turning toward him and imploringly lifting a sword.

General Kosciuszko Statue

Commemorating Polish patriot Thaddeus Kosciuszko and his life-long dedication to fighting for freedom in America and Poland, this bronze memorial is located in the northeast corner of Lafayette Park.

General Jackson Memorial

Located in the center of Lafayette Park, this statue portrays General Andrew Jackson reviewing his troops at the Battle of New Orleans. Depicting the general and his horse, the statue was dedicated on January 8, 1853, on the 38th anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans.

General von Steuben Statue

Portraying Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1794) as he inspects American troops during the American Revolution, this statue recognizes not only his leadership but his commitment to raising the standards of sanitization for soldiers during the war.

General Rochambeau Statue

This French general commanded 5,500 Royal French Expeditionary Forces to help with the American forces during the war. The statue depicts Rochambeau directing his troops, as well as a female figure, Liberty, who raises 2 flags in her left hand, symbolizing the unity of the U.S. and France.

Blair-Lee House

Serving as the official guesthouse for the president, Blair-Lee House was built in 1824. Various presidents and foreign dignitaries have stayed at Blair-Lee House throughout the years, and even today, many foreign heads of state are invited to stay there while visiting with the president.

Baruch Bench of Inspiration

Bernard Baruch was a wealthy financier from New York City who also served the country as an economic advisor during both World War I and World War II. Legend has it that he hated been driven to the White House and preferred instead to sit on a bench and wait for a signal that the president was ready to meet him.

In his honor, a commemorative bench with a bronze plaque set in granite block was dedicated on August 16, 1960, Baruch’s 90th birthday.

Navy Yard Urns

These huge ornamental bronze urns were cast using a melted cannon from the Civil War. They sit on giant pedestals at the center of Jackson Place and are a reminder of the hard-fought battles undertaken by Americans during the Civil War.

The Southern Trail begins at the White House Visitor Center and proceeds onto the Ellipse grounds, following a clockwise route around the parkland.

Monuments and Memorials

Butt-millet memorial fountain.

This tranquil fountain was erected to commemorate the deaths of Major Archibald Wallingham Butt and Francis Davis Millet. They both lost their lives on the RMS Titanic in April 1912. The fountain was also designed to double as a water fountain for the horses ridden by U.S. Park Police while on patrol.

Second Division Memorial

Erected to honor the 17,660 dead who served in the U.S. Army during World War I, this memorial was later extended to include a memorial to some of the most significant battles in World War II and the Korean War. It serves as a place of quiet contemplation and remembrance.

Original Patentees Memorial

This simple granite shaft was erected to remember the original 18 patentees whose land grants embraced the site of the federal city. Each side of the monument contains a relief panel carved with a symbol of the early pioneers’ agricultural pursuits, and the names of the original landowners are inscribed on the base.

Boy Scout Memorial

Dedicated to the Boy Scouts of America, this statue stood on the site of the first-ever Boy Scout Jamboree in 1937. The bronze statue consists of 3 figures that represent the aspirations of all past, present, and future Scouts throughout the world. There is also a female figure that symbolizes enlightenment with the love of God and fellow man, justice, freedom, and democracy.

The Zero Milestone

This 4-foot-high shaft of pink granite is the official starting point for the measurement of highway distances from Washington, D.C. It was built to mark the starting point of the first transcontinental military motor convoy that traveled from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco.

First Division Monument

This was built in remembrance of the heroism of the soldiers of the First Division of the American Expeditionary Forces who gave their lives during World War I. Further additions were made to also commemorate those who died in both World War II and the Vietnam War, as well as the Gulf War.

Bulfinch Gatehouses

Both of these gatehouses were build to oversee the U.S. Capitol grounds, and since 1889 they have weathered several floods, water, and the effects of acid rain.

The Ellipse

As perhaps one of the most famous areas of President’s Park, the Ellipse is a large open area surrounded by an oval drive. Over the years, the site has been used as a trash dump, horse pens, and even a slaughterhouse, but it is now often the meeting place for demonstrations and celebrations.

The National Christmas Tree

Every Christmas, local public schools erect a Christmas tree on the Ellipse. This age-old tradition is a highly anticipated event, and each succeeding president has participated in since 1923.

Best Place to Take Pictures of the White House

A visit to Washington, D.C. would not be complete without taking a series of snaps of the White House. There are various ways to capture awesome images of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, even if you can’t get right up close to it.

White House North Side

This view of the White House is one of the most famous images in the world. There is a fair distance between the sidewalk and the White House (as you would expect), but it is not impossible to get great pictures.

If you want to pass off the impression that you are inside the grounds of the White House, find a gap in the fence that is big enough to slip your digital camera through. Taking a picture of the White House straight on can make it look like it leans backward slightly. This is because there are no parallel vertical lines in the historical building.

You can either go with it and enjoy its imperfections or if you want your images to look super fancy, use the lens correction tool in Photoshop to fix this.

If you don’t mind seeing the fencing in your photographs, there are also some awesome images to be captured from Lafayette Park, where you can add stunning seasonal flowers into the foreground, too.

The South Side and E Street

White House South Side

On the south side of the White House, there are lots of trees that line the South lawn, which can be prohibitive to your view. There are, however, 2 walkways on E Street that offer you some excellent photographic opportunities.

You can take images through the fence on the north side of the street, or cross over to include people and bustling street scenes to add a sense of perspective.

Taking a short walk further away from the building itself, the Ellipse offers the opportunity for some excellent shots, and if you are lucky, you may be able to get Marine One in there, too. The base of the Washington Monument on Constitution Avenue offers some interesting viewpoints as well, as it has a slightly elevated position.

When to Take Pictures

Different seasons and times of the day offer different opportunities to capture the perfect picture. During the holiday season, the National Christmas Tree is bright and festive, with the White House providing a beautiful backdrop to great Christmas images, while the gardens around the White House look fantastic in both spring and fall.

Summer is the busiest time of year for visitors, so capturing images without bystanders is nearly impossible, but they can add an extra layer of perspective to your finished shots. Early morning and early evening shots add atmosphere, as the building looks magical lit up at night.

Bottom Line: No matter where you find yourself in the surrounding streets and parklands, you should still be able to take photographs that will keep your memories alive.

George Washington Never Lived There

Although he was responsible for commissioning the construction of the White House, his term ended 3 years before the building work was completed, and a year after he died. He is the only U.S. president never to have lived in the White House during their term in office.

He Was Responsible for the Design of the Oval Office, Though

The Oval Office was first used in 1909, and the oval shape was inspired by Washington’s love of unusually shaped rooms. He was believed to have preferred rounded shaped rooms at his home in Philadelphia, as he felt it made them more suitable for hosting formal gatherings.

The White House Was Built by Slaves

Controversial, but true, White House records show that the house was built by African American slaves who were trained as quarrymen, bricklayers, and carpenters to help complete the building project. This fact was brought to the attention of the American public by former first lady, Michelle Obama.

The White House Had No Electricity for Almost 100 Years

The White House was lit by gaslight right up until 1891 when the electricity system was first installed. The idea of electric lighting was still pretty novel at the time, and President Benjamin Harrison was worried about the dangers of touching a light switch. To protect himself throughout his time in office, he always had someone else switch the lights on and off for him.

It Didn’t Have Indoor Bathrooms for Decades, Either

Indoor plumbing systems were not part of the original design of the White House back in 1800. In fact, it wasn’t until 1833 that any kind of indoor plumbing was installed, and even then, not all of the bathrooms had hot and cold running water until some 20 years later in 1853.

It Was, However, One of the First Accessible Government Buildings

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was responsible for ensuring that the White House was and still is, entirely wheelchair accessible. Having suffered from polio, FDR was paralyzed below the waist and spent his time in office bound to a wheelchair.

Because of this, he took it upon himself to add elevators and ramps throughout the White House, making it one of the first wheelchair-friendly buildings in Washington, D.C. and possibly the U.S.

At Least 10 People Have Died in the White House

With such a high turn over of residents, it should come as no surprise that several people have passed away within the confines of its walls, too. Famous demises include Presidents William Henry Harrison and Zachary Taylor, as well as first ladies Letitia Tyler, Caroline Harrison, and Ellen Wilson, too.

It Is Said to Be Haunted

Many residents, staffers, and guests have all claimed to feel the power of the paranormal during their time at the White House. To this day, rumor has it that the ghost of Abraham Lincoln still walks the hallowed halls and corridors, and there have been many reported sightings of him throughout the house.

There Is a Secret Entrance

The White House has a secret entrance that is only used by the president and secret visitors. This is not unusual in high-profile buildings, but to enter via the secret entrance at the White House, visitors must go through 2 tunnels and an alleyway before reaching the basement.

This intricate entrance system was originally designed during World War II when there was an underground bomb shelter that sat beneath the White House.

There Is Also an Underground Swimming Pool

The White House has an outdoor pool that is enjoyed during warmer months, but it also has an interior pool hidden beneath its floors. First opened in 1933 for use by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the pool still exists today and can be found directly under the Press Briefing Room.

And a Dentist’s Office

If the president suffers from a sudden toothache, a lost crown, or a broken filling, there is a dentist on-site to deal with that. The basement of the White House is home to a dedicated dentist’s office, as well as plenty of other useful services, including a chocolate shop and a florist.

Tom Hanks Gifted Coffee Machines for the Press Briefings at the White House

During a tour of the White House back in 2004, the actor was surprised to see that there were no refreshment services for reporters who attended press briefings at the White House. Hanks immediately sent a coffee machine to be used in the Press Briefing Room and has upgraded the original machine twice since then.

In 2017 he sent a $1,700 espresso machine along with a note that read, “Keep up the good fight for truth, justice, and the American way. Especially for the truth part.”

The White House Nearly Fell Apart

During the Great Depression, there was very little money in the kitty for much-needed maintenance and repairs. Creaking floorboards, a leaking roof, weakened wooden beams, and swaying balconies all put the White House at risk of collapse, but the ongoing damage to the structure was not fully discovered until much later in 1948 when it was fully renovated.

The Current White House Is Not the Original One

During the invasion in 1814, the British burned the White House down, just 14 years after it had been completed. While the modern-day building has stood for hundreds of years, much of the original building was lost to the fire, and the rebuild was not completed until 4 years later.

The West Wing Wasn’t Always There

Home to some of the most famous rooms within the White House, the West Wing wasn’t actually even built until the early 20th century.

In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt called to have an executive office building built alongside the residence. President Taft doubled the wing’s size in 1909, which included the Oval Office, making President Taft was the first-ever president to use it.

It Has Been Home to a Wide Variety of Animals

Each new presidential resident and their families are welcome to bring their pets with them when they move into the White House.

This means that over the years, it has been home to lots of cats and dogs, as well as a variety of more unusual animals. These include a raccoon, opossums, and even a pair of tiger cubs that were gifted to President Van Buren.

It Is Also Home to a 7-Seat Hot Tub

Former President Bill Clinton was gifted a 7-seat hot tub that is installed near the South Lawn next to the swimming pool.

Due to rules and regulations on “gifting” items to members of Congress, the hot tub had to be donated as a legitimate therapy appliance. A spokesperson for President Clinton said at the time that the hot tub did indeed help with his injured knee.

It Wasn’t Always Called the White House

Over the years, the building we know as the White House has had a number of different names. Originally known as the President’s Palace, its name was later changed to Executive Mansion sometime around 1810.

It wasn’t actually until 1901 that President Theodore Roosevelt officially adopted the name White House and it has been known by that name ever since.

Nothing Comes for Free

It may surprise you to know that even the presidential family doesn’t get fed for free in the White House. While they don’t have to pay rent or bills while they live there, they are responsible for the costs of their personal food, dry cleaning, toiletries, and even the wages for waiters and other members of staff they employ for private events.

These costs are usually just deducted from their salary.

The Famous Resolute Desk Was Found on an Abandoned Ship

The Resolute Desk in the Oval Office was originally part of an abandoned British Navy vessel found off Baffin Island in the Arctic.

When the ship was decommissioned by the U.K., its oak timbers were used to create a desk weighing more than 1,000 pounds that Queen Victoria later gifted to President Rutherford Hayes.

To this day, we still see the presidents sign orders from behind this fabulous piece of furniture.

Many visitors choose to stay close to the White House during their visit. Here are some of the best to choose from.

Willard InterContinental Washington

Willard InterContinental Washington

This historic hotel is located on the world-famous Pennsylvania Avenue and has been a D.C. landmark for over 200 years. Offering executive suites and luxurious guest rooms, this 5-star hotel has stately interiors and is just a short walk the White House itself.

Stay in style surrounded by city or courtyard views, Keurig coffeemakers, and suites with separate living areas, whirlpool tubs, and even their own foyers. All guests are invited to enjoy the use of the beauty and wellness treatments available at the Mynd Spa and Salon.

You can dine at the authentic French brasserie, Cafe Du Parc, or take advantage of the full concierge service who can help you to make the most of your trip to one of America’s oldest cities.

The Hay – Adams

The Hay Adams

This luxury hotel offers unparalleled White House views from its position on the National Mall, and it is as popular with visitors as it is with Washington, D.C. insiders. Elegant interiors paired with first-class service and facilities make this 5-star hotel one of the most sought after in the city.

Bedrooms are upscale and very well appointed, with many offering fabulous views out across the National Mall. The wood-paneled walls, ornate fireplaces, and chandeliers found in the communal areas give the hotel an incredibly grand feel, and visitors may even recognize The Hay-Adams from television shows, including House of Cards and Homeland.

With a busy bar, a fitness center, and one of the city’s best restaurants all on-site, this hotel offers an authentic taste of upscale D.C.

JW Marriott Washington

JW Marriott Washington DC

Brilliantly located for visiting the White House and numerous other political and cultural landmarks in D.C., this renovated hotel offers luxurious lodgings on Pennsylvania Avenue. This is a modern hotel that has a bright and airy feel, with contemporary bedrooms and plenty of minimalist touches.

Guests love the large windows with fabulous views out across the city, as well as spacious bedrooms and bright and practical communal spaces. The hotel is also home to The Avenue Grill that serves up casual American fare, as well as a lively bar with a daily happy hour and a Starbucks coffee shop. This hotel offers affordable 4-star accommodation in the heart of D.C.

Sofitel Lafayette Square

Sofitel Lafayette Square Washington DC

This glamorous Art Deco style hotel sits just 1 block away from the White House and adds a touch of European flair to this most American of cities. With opulent interiors and seductive French flair, this 5-star hotel is located at the heart of the finest shops, restaurants, and landmarks the city has to offer.

Bedrooms are plush and well-appointed with tall windows and luxury linens, while the communal areas feel decadent. Guests are welcome to enjoy the great-tasting fare at the ICI Urban Bistro or join fellow guests for a cocktail or 2 at the bar. There is also a large basement fitness center, and spa treatments can be ordered to your room.

Club Quarters Hotel

Club Quarters Hotel in Washington DC

This mid-range hotel offers comfortable and affordable accommodation just 2 blocks from the White House and right next to Farragut West Metro station, therefore affording easy access to the entire city. Designed very much with business travelers in mind, this hotel offers collaborative workspaces with super-fast Wi-Fi, wireless printing, and Mac and PC workstations.

Bedrooms are bright and airy and offer sleek interiors complete with yoga mats and resistance bands, while suites add kitchenettes and separate living areas. The hotel is also home to the Cafe Soleil that serves up fun, French-inspired food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Hot Tip:  Looking for even more hotels? Explore our best hotels in Washington, D.C. to book with points. 

No visit to Washington, D.C. would be complete without a trip to see one of the most famous buildings in the world. Home to presidents for hundreds of years, the city is steeped in history.

If you are lucky enough to secure a place on an official White House tour, you will not be disappointed. But even if you are unable to get inside the building itself, there is still a wealth of attractions, landmarks, exhibitions, and open spaces for you to enjoy in the world-class parks and open spaces around the White House.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can i get tickets to visit the white house.

You can get tickets to visit the White House through your member of Congress only. These tickets have to be requested a minimum of 3 weeks in advance and can be requested as early as 3 months prior to your tour date.

Is it free to visit the White House?

Yes, White House tours are free of charge and self-guided. The tours run from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. You must request tickets through your member of Congress.

Can you tour the Oval Office?

White House tours do not include the Oval Office and tours of the West Wing are usually reserved for VIPs or guests of the president.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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White House

White House public tour requests are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis and must be submitted through a Member of Congress and their Congressional Tour Coordinator. Consistent with prior practices, public White House tour requests must be submitted a minimum of 21 days in advance and no more than 90 days in advance of the requested tour date(s). Reservations cannot be accepted for tour dates outside this 21 – 90-day window.

Public tours are typically available from 8:00 AM to 12:30 PM Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, excluding Federal holidays or unless otherwise noted. If your tour is confirmed, please note that you will be assigned a specific time. All White House tours are free of charge. The White House tour schedule is subject to change, with little notice, based on inclement weather or official use.

If you are a citizen of a foreign country, please contact your embassy in Washington, D.C. for assistance in submitting a tour request.

Request tickets now: How to visit the White House at Christmastime

Buddy Smith

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here .

We have a long (and always growing) list of trips we want to take, from which we create and build our travel dreams. One dream that had been shining at the top of the list for quite some time was a Christmas visit to the White House. We love the holidays, and -- politics and partisanship aside -- admire the elegance and importance of the White House. We knew visiting while it is decked in its holiday finest would be a memorable treat.

But, as we have discovered in the past, wanting to visit the White House and getting to visit the White House are two very different things. Before we get to the holiday magic we saw inside The People's House, let's look at what it takes to get in the door.

white house visit cost

How to visit the White House

To arrange a White House visit , you need to contact the office of your congressional representative. Requests can be submitted up to three months in advance of your anticipated travel dates, which means you may be booking your trip to DC before you know if you will get approved for a White House visit. However, the sooner you apply the better, because the tours only allow a limited number of people each day. If you want to take a tour at Christmastime, send in your request in September.

Your chances of securing a tour spot will be better if you can designate multiple days on your trip when you would be available for a tour. Once the request is submitted by the office of your representative, White House Tours will contact you for security information. Unfortunately for advance planners, the outcome of your request won't be known until 10 to 14 days before your date(s). If the White House visit is only a part of a planned DC visit, then it may not be a big deal. But if a White House tour is the sole or primary reason for your trip, that late notice could create some last-minute adjustments to your plans. Tours are typically scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and on Fridays and Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tours are free, but subject to change due to White House scheduling and events that cannot be foreseen.

Planning our holiday White House visit

The official White House Christmas tree is usually delivered the day after Thanksgiving, when decorating the property for Christmas is in full swing. The seasonal décor is ready for public viewing a few days after Thanksgiving. Our request for a Christmastime tour was submitted on Sept. 10 for a Dec. 11, 12 or 13 visit. We found out via email on Friday, Nov. 30 that we were approved and accepted for our visit.

white house visit cost

With that approval in hand, we found a cheap Spirit Airlines flight into Baltimore for $64. Normally, we would have used 5,000 Spirit miles to cover the fare, but because we were so close to our travel date, reward booking fees were more than the actual cost of the flight, so that strategy didn't work. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable hotels in Baltimore using points or cash. Since we arrived pretty late in the evening, we just booked a decent cash rate at the Aloft BWI Baltimore Airport and rested for the night. The same hotel (a Category 3 Marriott property) can be booked for 17,500 Marriott points.

Once we headed to Washington, DC, we stayed at to the Hyatt Place White House, which we have visited in the past. It is within easy walking distance to the White House, includes free breakfast and only costs 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night. The nearby Grand Hyatt Washington is also a good choice at 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night, especially if you have access to its club lounge (which our daughter, Mommy Points, has scored for us on some trips). Either could be booked with a Hyatt Category 1–4 award from the World of Hyatt Credit Card, though we just used points earned from that card on this trip.

To avoid spending extra time, money and an additional night in the DC area, we ponied up $200+ each for a United nonstop evening flight home from Washington National directly to our home airport in Houston. It wasn't a great deal financially, but maximized our time and energy during the busy holiday season.

Visiting the White House at Christmas

As the precious few days passed from our approval to our departure, we held our breath that our tour would not be affected by a Christmas cancellation. Even as we approached the tour entrance, we kept one eye out for unusual Secret Service movement and the other eye scanning our phone looking for breaking news that might bear bad tidings. Fortunately, we were greeted by an open gate and a welcoming gesture and into the line we went.

white house visit cost

The Secret Service officer checked our IDs and cross-checked the master list to verify if we were indeed on "the nice list." Three additional screenings later and we were ready to enter the White House.

The tour enters from the East Wing, where we passed through a hallway that led to the first of many grand Christmas trees. The initial tree was dedicated to the Gold Star families of our armed forces and was decorated in red and blue ribbons and rich gold ornaments.

white house visit cost

As we turned the corner, we came up the East Colonnade, which was lined on both sides with bright red berry trees of varying heights naturally lit by the multiple large windows that look out into the Kennedy Garden. The trees had received some unfavorable reviews when first introduced, and we were curious as to what our impression would be in person. When standing in front of the trees, we found them to be colorful, festive and appropriate for the season. A muted green carpet provided a seasonal balance to the somewhat narrow walkway. Judging by the number of photos being taken of the trees, they seem to be a hit with the crowd. Fortunately, cameras (with some limitations) are permitted on the White House tour.

white house visit cost

The next interesting encounter was the display of official White House Christmas cards from presidents over the past 91 years. Sixteen administrations were covered; their choices reflected not only each president's personal style and attitude, but also graphically illustrated the number of Christmases each experienced as the leader of our country. Eisenhower, Reagan, Bush 43, Clinton and Obama all had eight cards. Johnson and Nixon had five, Carter and Bush 41 had four, Ford had three, Kennedy only two and Trump also had two. We found this exhibit to be a poignant and educational history lesson with a direct seasonal correlation.

white house visit cost

After this point we physically entered the White House proper and enjoyed rooms with familiar names: the China Room, the Vermeil Room and the Library. Of these three, the Library was my personal favorite. The room emitted a warm and comfortable glow, and one could easily imagine a classic Christmas carol playing quietly in the background.

white house visit cost

Next, we ascended to the state floor via a significant wooden stairway to the East Room, the largest and most utilized room in the Executive Mansion. It has been the site of press conferences, Medal of Honor presentation ceremonies, entertainment, weddings, funerals and even a senior prom. Large chandeliers, grandiose garlanded mirrors and gold-hued drapes elegantly highlighted the room while two 14-foot fir trees flanked a traditional Nativity scene that was in its 51st year of display. The East Room traditionally is quite spacious and open with few furnishings.

white house visit cost

After exiting the East Room, the famous Red, Green and Blue rooms were only steps away. The Green Room now serves as a parlor for small receptions. Its decorative theme for the holidays illustrated and highlighted the great work ethic of American farmers and the fruits of their labor. Harvested produce, grains and nuts were found in the garland on the mantle, the boughs of the tree and as accents on the tables.

white house visit cost

The oval-shaped Blue Room is an elegant, handsome and inviting space that most would love to have in their own homes. It occupies the center of the White House, and its windows look out onto the South Lawn and toward the Washington and Jefferson monuments. The Blue Room is often used by the president to receive guests, but during Christmastime, this room proudly plays host to the official White House Christmas tree. When viewing the White House from outside, the 18-foot North Carolina-grown Fraser fir is easily seen through the South Portico.

white house visit cost

The Blue Room just feels like what I think of when I envision the best of America, and the tree there was decorated to enhance this ambience. A long continuous blue velvet ribbon curled itself throughout the tree with the names of all the states and territories proudly embroidered with a rich gold thread. Red and gold ornaments filled the green branches that reached toward and touched the ornate ceiling medallion.

white house visit cost

(As an aside, the Blue Room, due to its shape and position in The White House, might lead an outsider to assume this is where the Oval Office must be located. In reality, the Oval Office is not in the White House proper, but down in the West Wing in an area not visible to the public.)

The Red Room's bold color grabs your total attention as you enter its doorway. The centerpiece tree was adorned with ornaments depicting popular activities of American youth ranging from sports to drama to music. The contrast of the white Italian marble fireplace and mantle with the red, green and white garland spray was simply stunning and, in keeping with the spirit of the tree, fun.

white house visit cost

A meal is sadly not included in the White House tour, but, if it was, the State Dining Room would be the logical place for it to be served. It can accommodate over 100 guests, but my blue jeans likely would have needed a serious upgrade. Eagles support the furniture and topped the trees in homage to one of our national symbols. A large edible gingerbread creation sat under one of the classic White House mirrors and depicted famous monuments and structures on the National Mall. The piece was made with almost 400 pounds of ingredients by the pastry team.

white house visit cost

And, if the White House had not already impressed you enough with its Christmas trappings, when we passed the Kennedy portrait into the Entrance and Cross halls, we came upon an indoor forest of Christmas treasure.

white house visit cost

Thousands of red ornaments lined the hallway and graced the trees' deep green branches. The scene was so rich with Christmas spirit that we fully expected Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney to come out from behind the trees singing "White Christmas" at any second. The projected light on the ceiling added sparkle and pizzazz to a room that was already a full holiday palette. The presidential seal rising above the multilayered décor was a popular photo op for all.

white house visit cost

This space was about 2,500 square feet of elegance and color. It was hard to absorb it all in the time allotted, but easy to love. We were the last two to leave for the day, and we lingered and looked as much as we could. We could have easily spent longer reflecting on all we had seen, but the business of the White House had to go on.

white house visit cost

It was such a privilege and thrill to tour "The People's House" at Christmas. Even though we are very common people, we felt special because we had this opportunity. It was a great Christmas gift, indeed.

Other holiday sights in Washington, DC

The White House tour was the reason for the trip, but since we were there, we also took full advantage of some other DC Christmas traditions and offerings that we would recommend to others, including visiting the trees at the US Capitol, the Supreme Court and Union Station.

white house visit cost

The United States Botanic Garden had a beautiful display of scale model monuments made entirely of plant material. The same artistic skill and methods were used to build the famous American train depots that were central to the garden's themed "All Aboard" model train exhibit.

white house visit cost

We spent part of one evening at the National Christmas Tree located on The Ellipse between the White House and Washington Monument. The tree is surrounded by 56 smaller trees that border a winding walkway and represent each state and territory. Trains are also an integral part of the National Tree display, with multiple sets surrounding the tree's base. Live entertainment is frequently offered, and at dusk, the atmosphere is magical as the red and green lights of the tree glow in the foreground with either the lights of the White House or the evening sky in the background.

white house visit cost

Overall, we were blessed with good weather, grand sights and memorable moments. We departed for the trip full of Christmas spirit and came back with even more.

And as an epilogue, our congressman was, coincidentally, on our Thursday evening flight home and our window seat paid dividends as we witnessed two shooting stars as we looked to the north. Or perhaps it was Santa making some practice runs before the big day? Anything is possible.

white house visit cost

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The White House: Everything You Need to Know About the US President’s Residence

By Elizabeth Stamp

the white house

Located at the country’s most well-known address, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave in Washington, DC, the White House is America’s most iconic home. The official residence and office of the president of the United States, the White House has been the home of every president since John Adams and the site of some of the most important events in American history.

Set on 18 acres of land, the White House is made up of the Executive Residence, the East Wing, and the West Wing, with its famous Oval Office. Today, the residence includes six levels with 132 rooms, including 16 family and guest rooms and 35 bathrooms, and is spread over 55,000 square feet. The White House has been home to every president from John Adams to Joe Biden, and it is an enduring symbol of democracy and one of the most recognizable buildings in the world, attracting 500,000 visitors annually.

The early history of the White House

President George Washington, who lived in presidential residences in New York and Philadelphia, selected the site of the nation’s capital on the Potomac River for an executive mansion with the help of French architect Pierre Charles L’Enfant, who designed the plan of the city. L’Enfant initially proposed an opulent design for the residence, which would have resulted in a building four times the size of what stands today. He was ultimately dismissed by the three-person committee overseeing the development of the District of Columbia, and his palatial design was abandoned. Instead, Washington and his secretary of state, Thomas Jefferson, decided that the design would be chosen through a national competition.

Jefferson announced the competition—which offered a prize of $500 (or a medal of equal value)—and even reportedly submitted a design himself under the initials “A.Z”. In July of 1792, Irish-born architect James Hoban ’s submission was selected by Washington, and he was hired to build the White House.

The architectural style of the White House

The south façade of the White House

The south façade of the White House

Hoban proposed a Palladian neoclassical design . According to Robert P. Watson’s George Washington’s Final Battle: The Epic Struggle to Build a Capital City and a Nation, Hoban’s design took inspiration from L’Enfant’s design for Federal Hall in New York City, Leinster House (now the seat of Ireland’s parliament in Dublin), and a structure he had seen in architect James Gibbs’s 1728 title, Book of Architecture.

Construction began in October of 1792 with the laying of the first cornerstone. “I think it’s critical to recognize that the initial construction of the White House, as well as other early-19th-century projects, like the reconstruction after the burning of the White House…[relied] on the labor of enslaved people, and these laborers [worked] alongside European craftsmen, wage laborers, and African Americans that [were] free to do this work,” says Sarah Fling, a historian at the White House Historical Association. The building was constructed between 1792 and 1800 using Aquia sandstone from the Government Island quarry (also a supplier of stone for the exterior of the US Capitol), bricks made in kilns near the site, and lumber from forests in Maryland and Virginia.

In 1800, President John Adams and first lady Abigail Adams moved into the still unfinished building on November 1. While it was much smaller than L’Enfant’s proposal, the completed building was still the largest home in the country and would retain that title until after the Civil War. According to the White House Historical Association, the cost of construction was $232,372.

Evolution of the White House

The White House has undergone many renovations throughout its history , starting with Thomas Jefferson, who, along with architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe, added the East and West Colonnades, which now link the East and West Wings with the Executive Residence. The first major renovation of the White House took place during the War of 1812. On August 24, 1814, British troops marched on Washington, DC, and burned the White House, the Capitol, and several other public buildings. Hoban returned to rebuild the residence, and while work was completed in 1817, he continued to work on additions for several more years. In 1824, he added the South Portico for James Monroe, and he constructed the North Portico for Andrew Jackson from 1829 to 1830.

The Green Room in 1956

The Green Room in 1956

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“Every president and first lady really leave their mark, whether that means adding new technology, new artwork, or even external changes like a pool or a putting green, but I think in terms of seeing the White House as we know it today, the 1902 renovation by Theodore Roosevelt really brings the White House into the modern era,” notes Fling.

President Theodore Roosevelt hired New York architectural firm McKim, Mead & White to renovate and expand the building. The firm moved the presidential offices to a new building, which would eventually be known as the West Wing. (Roosevelt’s successor, William Howard Taft, would add the Oval Office to the new extension.) Architect Charles McKim repurposed the former offices into more living spaces, stripped away aesthetically disparate elements from previous administrations, and transformed the basement into the ground floor. New reception rooms, a new entry, and a new grand staircase fit with Roosevelt’s intentions for his administration. “You can see through the Roosevelt renovation that he wants the building to reflect the growing influence and power of the presidency at the turn of the 20th century,” says Fling. “The addition of what we know as the West Wing is major. It became one of the most iconic symbols of the presidency. We also see the Roosevelt renovation expand the State Dining Room, which is really important because it shows the growing importance of the US on the world stage in 1902.”

President Harry S. Truman testing out the newly installed bowling alleys in the basement at the White House in 1948

President Harry S. Truman testing out the newly installed bowling alleys in the basement at the White House in 1948

When President Harry S. Truman moved into the White House in 1945, he became concerned about the state of the building. In 1947, a chandelier in the Blue Room almost fell on Bess Truman and her guests from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and in 1948, the leg of Margaret Truman’s piano pierced through the floor of what is now the private dining room. Engineers confirmed that the building was at risk of collapse, and Truman and his family relocated to Blair House, the president’s guesthouse located nearby at 1651 Pennsylvania Ave.

The Blue Room in 1952

The Blue Room in 1952

The Blue Room decorated for the holidays in 2021

The Blue Room decorated for the holidays in 2021

Architect Lorenzo Winslow oversaw the three-year gut renovation, during which the inside of the White House was demolished and completely rebuilt. “The Truman renovation is the largest reconstruction at the White House because of the sheer amount of demolition and reconstruction that you see inside,” says Fling.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy giving a tour of the White House in 1962

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy giving a tour of the White House in 1962

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy began a restoration of the interior decoration of the White House in 1961, with the goal of making the historic building a “living museum.” Kennedy asked esteemed collector Henry Francis du Pont of the Winterthur Museum to lead the project and hired Parisian decorator Stéphane Boudin of Maison Jansen to assist with the interior design. “Everything in the White House must have a reason for being there,” the first lady told Life magazine in 1961. “It would be sacrilege merely to redecorate it—a word I hate. It must be restored , and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.” Kennedy showed off the restoration during a televised tour that aired on CBS in 1962.

To ensure that the White House would be protected and preserved in the future, she founded the White House Historical Association in 1961. “We were initially founded by first lady Jacqueline Kennedy in 1961 for the purpose of enhancing understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the White House,” says Fling. “The association’s products fund the acquisition of historic furnishings and artwork at the White House. It assists with the preservation of public rooms and furnishings at the house and also helps to further our educational mission.”

The White House was designated a museum by Congress in 1961. The Committee for the Preservation of the White House, founded by President Lyndon Johnson, approves any changes to the State Rooms of the White House.

The elements of the White House

The Red Room decorated for the holidays during President Obamas tenure

The Red Room decorated for the holidays during President Obama’s tenure

The central Executive Residence is home to the president’s living spaces and the State Rooms. The ground floor originally housed service areas, but now includes the Diplomatic Reception Room, the White House Library, the Map Room, the Vermeil Room, and the China Room. The State Floor features some of the White House’s most treasured spaces, including the East Room, the Blue, Red, and Green Rooms, the State Dining Room, and the Family Dining Room.

The private residence of the first family is located on the second floor. In addition to the Presidential Bedroom Suite, the second floor includes historic spaces, such as the Queens’ Bedroom, the Treaty Room, the Yellow Oval Room, the Center Hall, and the East and West Sitting Rooms.

The White House’s attic was converted into a third floor during the Coolidge administration, and over the years, it has hosted a music room for President Clinton and a bedroom suite for Melania Trump. There is also a solarium, added by Grace Coolidge, with panoramic views of the Mall.

A small East Wing was first added in 1902 as an entrance to the White House. Today’s structure was built in 1942 and sits atop the Presidential Emergency Operations Center. The two-story East Wing houses the office spaces of the first lady and her staff.

The Oval Office in 2021

The Oval Office in 2021

The West Wing’s centerpiece is the Oval Office. Each president adds their own personal style to the workspace, choosing artwork from the White House collection or borrowing from museums. Six desks have been used in the Oval Office, the most famous of which is the Resolute desk. Made of wood from the HMS Resolute, the desk is currently in use by President Biden.

First lady Barbara Bush and her dog Millie in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room in 1989

First lady Barbara Bush and her dog, Millie, in the White House Diplomatic Reception Room in 1989

The West Wing also houses the Situation Room, the Cabinet Room, the Press Room, and offices for advisors and the chief of staff. Additional offices for the president’s staff are located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The vice president has an office in the West Wing, as well as the ceremonial office in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

President Joe Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris  and US representative Maxwell Frost  democrat of Florida in the...

President Joe Biden with Vice President Kamala Harris (R) and US representative Maxwell Frost (L), democrat of Florida, in the Rose Garden of the White House in September of 2023

Beautiful landscaping has graced the White House grounds since the administration of Thomas Jefferson. The South Lawn features over three dozen commemorative trees that date back to the 1870s. During the Kennedy administration, Rachel Lambert “Bunny” Mellon redesigned the White House gardens, including the famed Rose Garden outside the West Wing. The East Garden, also redesigned by Mellon, was later named in honor of Jacqueline Kennedy. First lady Michelle Obama added a 1,100-square-foot vegetable garden on the south grounds in 2009.

Interesting facts about the White House

A greenhouse with orchids at the White House sometime between 1889 and 1906

A greenhouse with orchids at the White House, sometime between 1889 and 1906

President Buchanan added a glass conservatory in 1857, and it was expanded throughout the 19th century. “[Conservatories and greenhouses were] very popular in the 19th century, especially among first ladies,” says Fling. “But when we see this 1902 renovation with Theodore Roosevelt, he demolished the conservatory to make room for what we know as the West Wing. So it’s something that’s really popular in the 19th century, but I think hard to imagine for a modern audience, having a full greenhouse on the White House grounds.”

President Gerald Ford in the White Houses outdoor pool in 1975

President Gerald Ford in the White House’s outdoor pool in 1975

The White House swimming pool used by Franklin D. Roosevelt

The White House swimming pool used by Franklin D. Roosevelt

The White House has been home to two swimming pools. “There had been a pool inside the White House added by Franklin Roosevelt that he would use as exercise for his polio, but later, Gerald Ford wanted an outdoor pool,” says Fling. Ford’s pool was built on the South Lawn, and Roosevelt’s indoor pool was covered and turned into a press briefing room.

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the Cross Hall at the White House during an official dinner in 1985

Princess Diana dancing with John Travolta in the Cross Hall at the White House during an official dinner in 1985

The White House kitchen has the capacity to prepare dinner for 140 guests and hors d’oeuvres for over 1,000.

The residence features a 42-seat movie theater and a tennis and basketball court. The White House bowling alley was given as a gift to President Truman and was later moved to the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Frequently asked questions about the White House

Early maps referred to the White House as the “President’s Palace,” but in 1810, the building was officially named “Executive Mansion” in order to avoid any connection to royalty. The residence has also been called “President’s House,” or “President’s Mansion.” In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt changed the official name to “White House,” a moniker that had been used throughout the 19th century.

While George Washington chose the site and design of the White House, he did not ever live in the residence. John Adams was the first president to live in the White House, moving in on November 1st, 1800. The executive mansion has been the official residence of every subsequent president.

Contrary to a popular myth that the building was painted white to hide scorch marks after the fire in 1814, the residence was first painted white in 1798 to protect the exterior from weather damage.

Today, the White House is painted in Duron’s Whisper White. It takes 570 gallons to cover the exterior.

President Bill Clintons cat Socks and dog Buddy in the Outer Oval Office in 1998

President Bill Clinton’s cat Socks and dog Buddy in the Outer Oval Office in 1998

According to whitehouse.gov , members of the American public can tour the White House by scheduling a visit through their member of Congress. Citizens of a foreign countries can arrange tours through their embassy.

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While we certainly appreciate historical preservation, it looks like your browser is a bit too historic to properly view whitehousehistory.org. — a browser upgrade should do the trick.

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White House Visitor Center

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In July 2012, the National Park Service’s White House Visitor Center began undergoing a $12.6 million revitalization through a public-private partnership with the White House Historical Association. The Association's donation of $12.5 million for the project and operating endowment helped make this extraordinary public resource possible. David M. Rubenstein's gift of $5 million to the Association for the White House Visitor Center ensures center exhibits and technology will continue to be improved and enhanced in the years to come. The Center is operated by the National Park Service in historic Baldrige Hall in the Department of Commerce at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW and has been free and open to the public since reopening in September 2014. The center includes a new flagship retail store for the Association, featuring new and treasured items that support the Association's mission of enhancing the understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of the Executive Mansion.

Location Details

The White House Visitor Center

1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20230

202-208-1631

  • Hours: Monday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Closed on Christmas Day and New Year's Day

Free Admission

The Association's underwriting of the architectural planning, exhibit design and fabrication, and media production have made possible a state-of-the-art visitor experience that includes interactive exhibits, a large-scale model of the White House, numerous tactile elements, a new permanent museum gallery, a temporary exhibit area, retail shop, visitor information facilities, and numerous opportunities for children and families to connect to the history of the White House and President's Park.

Included in the nearly 16,000 sq. ft. remodeled space is a new retail store run by the Association that supports the upkeep of the visitor center and the Association’s mission. The completely transformed visitor center affords an outstanding stand-alone experience, and provides an enhanced experience for those who take a self-guided White House tour. All new exhibits tell the story of the White House as a home, office, stage and ceremonial space, museum, and park.

Before 1995, the National Park Service distributed White House tour tickets and provided visitor information at a location on the Ellipse. The White House Visitor Center first opened in March 1995. After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, White House tour tickets became available through Congressional offices and embassies. No longer a center for ticket distribution, the White House Visitor Center evolved to serve visitors' educational and informational needs. As time passed, the static exhibits became outdated and, in the late 2000s, planning began for a new facility that would include engaging, interactive exhibits.

Nearly 100 artifacts from the White House Collection are on view, some for the first time, including items like President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Desk, an Eagle Finial that topped the White House flagpole in the late 19th Century, and the Chief Usher's Desk from 1902 – 1948. Visitors will find artifacts enhanced by hundreds of images of the White House as Office, Home, and Stage. Integrated into the museum gallery are screens highlighting additional imagery and stories from the White House.

A beautiful theater space offers a new film commissioned for the visitor center, "The White House: Reflections from Within," which features personal stories from presidents, first ladies, and other members of first families across the years.

The visitor center was designed with a strong focus on accessibility for all visitors, and the project team worked closely with the National Center for Accessibility to achieve a fully accessible experience.

To learn more about the White House Visitor Center and to plan your visit, please visit the National Park Service website .

Members of the media are encouraged to visit our Press Room .

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A Family Guide To Touring the White House with Kids

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A young boy reads a museum plaque while touring the White House.

The White House in Washington, DC , is one of the most iconic landmarks in the city – and even the United States – but did you know the average family can arrange for a tour inside the grounds ? Imagine walking in presidents’ footsteps, touring a room that recently held a State Diner, or taking in paintings and artifacts across hundreds of years of U.S. history. You’ll discover little-known secrets tucked away within its walls and hear stories about historic moments that took place right where you are standing – making your visit all the more special. Interested in a fun and informational tour of the White House with kids? Read on for a family guide to touring the White House to understand what to expect from a White House visit with kids!

How to Book a White House Tour with Kids

A dad and his two young sons walk into the White House for a tour of the grounds.

Families (and other visitors) are welcome in the White House Tuesdays to Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tours are not guaranteed, but can be requested by contacting your U.S. Representative if you’re American. Or, your country’s consulate in the United States if you’re a foreign national.

Families must request tours between 90 and 21 days in advance ; you should receive a confirmation email that you’ve requested dates once your local official submits the necessary information. From there, families will submit information such as full names and birth dates, which will be verified on-site before the tour.

When we contacted our Representative’s office, they asked us for multiple dates to increase the chances of getting a tour. We marked those days on our family calendar, and two weeks before one of our requested dates, we received an email confirmation with our tour time. 

RELATED : Best Washington DC Museums For Kids By Age

How to Prepare for a White House Tour with Kids

A young boy asks a serviceman a question while on tour.

When you book your family tour of the White House, beware of rescheduling, a disclaimer they provide early on. This happened to us – they moved our Saturday tour to Sunday (a day they normally do not have tours) – with less than 48 hours notice. So, prepare to be flexible!

Before lining up to go in, be sure to eat, hydrate and use the bathroom, as you can’t bring any food, drink, or bags of any kind or size (even clutches). You can, however, take medically necessary items and baby supplies (e.g., diapers, wipes, baby carriers) inside.

If you need refreshments, quick-service establishments like Puro Gusto and Corner Bakery , as well as restaurants like Old Ebbitt Grill and The Hamilton are under two blocks from where families will line up for the tour. And if you have a bag that you can’t leave elsewhere, Hotel Washington , The Willard Hote l , and the JW Marriott are very close and may be able to hold it for you (we recommend checking ahead of time to see if it’s possible). 

Book your hop-on hop-off bus tour of Washington DC here!

Entering the White House

A long line of people awaiting a tour of the White House.

We arrived for an 11:30 tour at 11:00, and it took us 45 minutes to get through a two-block-long line. While most of the block features shade from trees, prepare to stand and walk for some time. After families get through the initial line and onto the White House grounds, prepare to line up for another 10 minutes so they can check identities and send you through security. They require government-issued IDs for U.S. adults and all foreign nationals. The latter two steps are largely exposed to the elements, so be sure to check the weather and dress appropriately to enjoy your family tour of the White House! 

READ NEXT : A Fun 5-Day DC Itinerary For Families With Babies and Toddlers

Touring the White House with Kids

People on tour at the White House, with a serviceman watching over the room.

The White House tour with your kids is self-guided , though the Secret Service agents in various rooms provide a wealth of knowledge for curious families looking to supplement written materials. You will enter the White House on the ground floor, where there are several rooms to view from a central corridor: the China Room, the Vermeil Roo, and the Library. Signs at the doorway of each room share interesting facts that complement the brochures visitors receive prior to entry.

Upstairs, guests will walk through the East Room, Green Room, Blue Room, Red Room, and State Dining Room before heading back outside. The White House still uses these rooms throughout the week, so expect them to section off certain furniture and artifacts for eyes only. 

RELATED : Amazing DC Field Trip Itinerary For Families With Elementary-Aged Kids

Tips for Touring the White House with Kids

Inside an ornate room at the White House.

The White House closes its rooms at 12:30, so families on a tour of the White House should keep that in mind. If you have a tour scheduled in the later range of the visitor window, arrive a bit earlier than you think you should allow for lines and security.

The White House suggests self-guided tours should last about 45 minutes ; we were in and out in 35 minutpartlypart due to rooms closing for the day, though we did not feel rushed with that amount of time.

Use Getyourguide or Viator to book other Washington DC Tours now!

Where to Stay in Washington DC with Kids

A view of The Darcy at dusk.

If you’re planning an extended stay in DC or need somewhere to stay in town after visiting the White House, there are many options. For an indoor pool for little ones to splash in, visit The Watergate Hotel . Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton Washington DC offers a special welcome package for little ones, plus fun activities like a scavenger hunt.

Then, families can also stay near famous attractions, including the White House and the U.S. Capitol Building, by booking a stay at the Hyatt Place Washington DC . Or, venture to DuPont Circle and stay at The Darcy . For more hotel suggestions, check out our list of kid-friendly hotels in DC . Or, if you want a home and apartment rental, check out our Airbnb, Vrbo , and our recommendations for the best neighborhoods to stay in while in DC .

RELATED : Exciting Washington, DC Field Trip Itinerary For Families With Tweens and Teens

Enjoy the White House Tour with Kids!

Two kids wave flags outside the White House lawn on a sunny day.

We hope this article helps you plan a family tour of the White House! With a little planning and preparation, your family will surely have an exciting and informative visit to the U.S. president’s home, as well as an amazing stay in the nation’s capital !

*Unless otherwise attributed, all images within this article belong to and are courtesy of Megan Tucker .

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are that of the attributed author, Megan Tucker.

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  • How much does it cost to take a public tour of the White House?

Tours are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications can be submitted up to three months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible, as there are a limited number of spaces available. All visits to the White House are free.

Requests for public visits must be submitted through your member of Congress. These self-guided tours are generally available on Fridays and Saturdays (except federal holidays or unless otherwise noted). The visit to the White House is free. Please note that visits to the White House may be subject to last minute cancellation.

Download the White House Experience app for Android Download the White House Experience app for iOS. This post is an article on how to get tickets for the White House tour, with tips for planning your visit, as well as a virtual tour to show you what you'll see. All federal buildings, including the White House, are closed to the public. A tour of the White House is just one of many great things to do in DC.

There is no cost to tour the White House, but you will have to request free tickets. Visitors from home and abroad can tour the White House. To visit the White House, it's important to know that you need to book your tickets in advance, MONTHS in advance. You can apply for White House tours up to 6 months in advance and must do so no later than 3 weeks.

Citizens and residents, applications must go through the office of your district member of Congress (find your member here). If you are coming during the peak tourist season from March to April or from June to August, we recommend you at least 3 months or more in advance to request tickets. If you are from a foreign country, we recommend that you go through their embassy in Washington DC, DC. Not all embassies will be interested or useful in the application.

However, nothing prevents you from requesting a tour through any member of Congress. There is no real requirement that you be a resident of your district or state to do so. Most will ask you for contact information at home and during your stay in DC, available dates for tours and total people in your group. In this section, we review where to enter the White House grounds, how to get there, as well as safety and prohibited items.

We strongly recommend using our Google map to get directions to the entry point of the tour. No White House metro station. The nearest metro stop to the entrance of the tour is Metro Center (red, orange, blue and silver lines) (take the 13th Street exit), which is only a 7-minute walk away. When you go up the escalators, you'll be facing 13th Street.

Take 13th Street south (downhill) and turn right onto E Street and go straight until you reach 15th Street. The McPherson Square subway station (orange, blue and silver lines) is also close to the White House. Mass transit is recommended to get to the White House. If you must drive, you can find a parking spot in a nearby garage through a service called SpotHero.

This website allows you to reserve guaranteed parking spots in advance, often for a cheaper price than the garage itself would charge. If you have been granted a tour, you must arrive before the meeting time at the visitor entrance. The tour lines up along 15th Street NW on the west side of the street next to the statue of William Tecumseh Sherman. It's across the street from where Pennsylvania Ave NW ends up dead end at 15th St NW.

You will check in with the park ranger standing guard outside the temporary fence. There is no specific address or sign, you just have to know that you are in the right place, but since there is often a line, it should be easy to spot. Security is a concern everywhere in Washington, but nowhere else but in the White House. You will need a valid government-issued ID or passport in order to enter the White House for each member of your group.

You'll need to queue for security, so make sure you arrive at least half an hour before your tour time. More time in high season or in a group). There is no dress code for touring the White House, but because of the importance of the building, you must dress well. Smartphones and compact cameras with a lens of no more than 3 inches (still images only) are allowed on the route of the public tour as long as their use does not interfere with the enjoyment of the tour by other guests.

Flash photography or live streaming is not allowed, as well as talking or texting on mobile phones during the tour. If you can't leave your belongings at your hotel, consider a storage service. Once inside, the tour is self-guided and will last about half an hour. Although the White House has 135 rooms in total, you are only shown through several rooms that you use for entertainment.

You will NOT see the family home, the Oval Office or the West Wing. These videos offer virtual tours within various parts of the White House that cannot be seen on public tours of the White House. Situation Room Video Tour Learn About West Wing Marines Watch Marine One Land in the South Lawn You will see many helicopters during your visit to Washington, D.C. And they usually won't transport the president.

Most helicopters fly along the National Mall, over the tidal basin and the Potomac River. When you see three helicopters flying through the National Mall, just after the Washington Monument (that's why there are flashing red lights on top), one of them is Marine One. For advance planning, you can keep an eye on the president's schedule. It will give an approximate time for the president to leave the South Lawn.

Marine One is often used to transport the president to Andrews Joint Base to board Air Force One. The best place to see Marine One land if you want to be as close as possible is on the south side of the White House, an area called The Ellipse. Normally, the circular sidewalk that forms the ellipse is open to the public, but when the president leaves, the side closest to the White House is closed. However, you can walk directly on the grass to the center of the Ellipse.

If you want to see Marine One with some DC landmarks in the frame, stop at the World War II Memorial, opposite the Washington Monument. The three helicopters will fly in front of the Washington Monument, queuing up for a big photo shoot. Officially, any helicopter the president is in is Marine One. That's the call sign for any USMC plane that has the president on board, just like the Air Force, one denotes any plane carrying the president.

Marine One helicopters have standard military anti-missile countermeasures, ballistic armor and can continue to fly even if they lose one of the three engines. It can accommodate 14 passengers, but it is quiet enough that the President can use a normal tone of voice on his secure line to the White House. After extensive renovation, the White House Visitor Center is now open again to the public. There are more than 90 new artifacts on display, many of which have never been exhibited before.

Some of our favorites are the desk where Franklin Delano Roosevelt sat when he gave his famous fireside talks and a scale model of the White House. Inside the White House Visitor Center, you can watch a 14-minute film that takes you inside the White House and the lives of the First Families. Public visits to the White House are free and can be scheduled through your congressional representative. Please refer to the ticketing section for more information.

Visitors will enter the White House complex from the south side of East Executive Avenue. After passing through the security screening area, guests will enter the east wing of the White House and continue through the eastern colonnade following the route to the residence shown on the White House tourist map below. While the standard public tour is interesting for architectural and historical reasons, nothing can beat the excitement of the West Wing Tour. These coveted tours are led by knowledgeable White House and Secret Service staff members.

They take you to the White House areas of work and allow you to witness our democracy in action. Right now, the only way to experience a tour of the West Wing is at the invitation of the White House or through a personal connection with a White House staff member who is willing to guide you on an after-hours tour. Download the Official White House West Wing Tour Brochure. You may be wondering who is going to take a tour of the west wing.

This information was first made available by the Obama administration through the publication of official records of visitors to the White House. This practice was suspended under the Trump administration, but has been re-established under the Biden White House. We recommend that you submit your tour request as soon as possible, as tours fill up quickly and there are a limited number of spaces available. Tours are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that tours are subject to last-minute cancellations according to official White House schedule. Public visits to the White House remain temporarily suspended until further notice. Official residence of every president of the United States since 1800, the 132-room White House in Washington DC attracts visitors from all over the world. Admire from afar; stop by the White House Visitor Center; or request access for a self-guided tour of the East Wing, State Dining Room, Porcelain Room, and White House Rose Garden.

You are viewing Virtual Experiences in Washington DC. See more virtual experiences around the world. Unsurprisingly, security is tight inside and around the White House. Visitors must adhere to strict rules about what they can and cannot take with them during the tour.

If you are successful in your application to book a tour of the White House, there are further instructions and guidelines you should consider that day. The basement of the White House houses a dedicated dentist's office, as well as many other useful services, such as a chocolate shop and a flower shop. Had it not been this kind gesture by the then president, the Egg Roll might never have happened, as members of Congress had already passed a law banning rolling eggs outside the White House, as they felt it was too harmful. The app offers three tour experiences, including a virtual tour of the White House (with rooms you don't normally see on the tour), a neighborhood walking tour, and a room-by-room guide for visitors on an in-person tour of the White House.

Visits to the White House do not include the Oval Office and visits to the West Wing are usually reserved for VIPs or guests of the president. Both tours of the White House gardens are free and open to the public, but are only open to ticket holders. Please note that smartphones and compact cameras with a lens no larger than 3 inches are allowed on the public tour route, but video recording devices and flash photography are not allowed inside the White House. Guests can enjoy a virtual tour of the White House and the surrounding president's neighborhood, as well as take a tour of the history of the White House and how its customs have evolved.

These tickets must be ordered a minimum of 3 weeks in advance and can be requested as early as 3 months before your tour date. While visitors cannot enter the White House without requesting a tour through their congressional representative, they will still be able to see the White House from Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Lafayette Square and see the White House and South Lawn from the ellipse. If your tour request is approved, the White House will provide you with a specific date and time to arrive and a place to check in. .

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Deadline: Legal Blog

From deadline: white house with nicolle wallace.

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What’s taking the Trump immunity appeal ruling so long?

white house visit cost

By Jordan Rubin

Why don’t we have the Donald Trump immunity ruling yet?

It’s been more than two weeks and still no word from the U.S Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit panel that heard argument Jan. 9. While there’s no single satisfying answer to this pressing question, there are some factors we can identify to help understand what’s at play.

First, the judges know that this opinion needs to be airtight. Whatever they decide will inevitably be appealed, which would mean not only their colleagues on the full D.C. Circuit — in what’s known as en banc review — but also potentially Supreme Court justices reviewing their work. While some observers are eager for a ruling as soon as possible to avoid further delay of Trump’s federal election interference trial , which technically is set to start March 4, whether the opinion takes weeks instead of days isn’t the judges’ greatest concern. That said, the court agreed to consider the case on an expedited timeline — they didn’t do that to take months to issue a ruling, even if they might wish they had more time for this historic case .

While some observers are eager for a ruling as soon as possible to avoid further delay of Trump’s federal election interference trial, which technically is set to start March 4, whether the opinion takes weeks instead of days isn’t the judges’ greatest concern.

There’s also the possibility that even if all three judges on the panel conclude that Trump isn’t immune, they might have different rationales and may think that certain issues deserve more analysis than others. If they can’t incorporate those views into a single opinion, then a judge who agrees on the bottom line but for different reasons might write a concurring opinion that explains their separate views. It’s possible that after a judge initially indicated they wanted to take a separate view, the panel is taking time to synthesize any disagreement into a single, coherent opinion. 

Among the multiple aspects of the case that could be addressed in the opinion is, in addition to the immunity issue itself, the question of whether the court even has jurisdiction to hear the appeal pretrial . It’s not just the “yes” or “no” question of Trump’s immunity that can be addressed in the ruling. The judges on the panel are two Joe Biden appointees, J. Michelle Childs and Florence Pan , and a George H.W. Bush appointee, Karen Henderson .

Of course, some disagreements are insurmountable, which leads to dissent. If a judge is intent on dissenting here, then that could take more time for the respective opinions to respond to one another. That is, if you look at decisions that have dissents in them, you may see majority and dissenting opinions responding to the other opinion’s position, which can take more time to sort out with the back-and-forth. Sometimes a dissenter can be brought along to the majority view during the drafting process.

Under any of these scenarios, then, you can see what may build additional time into the process. Again, that doesn’t specifically answer the question of why it would take, say, three weeks instead of two weeks to reach a ruling, but those might be some of the things that the judges are grappling with.     

Subscribe to the  Deadline: Legal Newsletter  for weekly updates on the top legal stories, including news from the Supreme Court, the Donald Trump cases and more.

Jordan Rubin is the Deadline: Legal Blog writer. He was a prosecutor for the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan and is the author of “Bizarro," a book about the secret war on synthetic drugs. Before he joined MSNBC, he was a legal reporter for Bloomberg Law.

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A temple to a top Hindu deity was built over a destroyed mosque in India. Here is why it matters

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has opened a grand temple built on the site of a destroyed mosque in the northern city of Ayodhya.

FILE - Workers put up cutouts of Hindu deity Lord Ram and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to mark the opening of a grand temple for Lord Ram in Ayodhya, India, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2024. Coming ahead of the upcoming national elections, the ceremony has welded into a potent mix of religion and statecraft that analysts say will secure an enduring, though contentious legacy for Modi who is seeking a third-consecutive term. (AP Photo/Deepak Sharma, File)

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FILE - Security officers guard the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya, closing off the disputed site claimed by Muslims and Hindus, Oct. 29, 1990. Hindus believe that Hindu deity Ram was born at the exact same site in Ayodhya where the 16th-century Babri mosque once stood. The mosque was destroyed by a Hindu mob in December 1992. (AP Photo/Barbara Walton, File)

FILE - An Indian family watches epic television series “Ramayan” at their home after country’s public broadcaster revived the wildly popular series from the 80s for a captive audience staying home due to the coronavirus pandemic in Jammu, India, May 18, 2020. The mythological Hindu epic “Ramayan” tells the story of Ram’s journey from a prince to a king, with numerous retellings and adaptations in popular culture. The Indian TV series “Ramayan” created in the late 80’s is one of the world’s most viewed mythological shows and continues to have a faithful audience. (AP Photo/Channi Anand, File)

FILE - Standing before a poster of the Hindu deity Ram, a Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) member shouts slogans during a rally to protest against the raid on a Hindu temple in northern India, in Gauhati, India, July 7, 2005. While the slogan “Jai Sri Ram,” or “Hail Lord Ram,” has become a political battle cry for Hindu nationalists, “Ram-Ram” remains a popular way of greeting across rural India. (AP Photo/Gautam Singh, File)

FILE - The newly built Maharishi Valmiki International Airport is decorated the day before it is scheduled to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ayodhya, India, Dec. 29, 2023. The city, once known for its narrow lanes crowded with Hindu monks and pilgrims thronging street shops selling miniature idols of Ram, has been given a complete facelift with modern infrastructure and state-of the art services for visitors. Ayodhya’s modest airstrip has grown into an expansive international airport with a 2200-meter runway in the first phase. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)

FILE- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi performs rituals during the groundbreaking ceremony of a temple dedicated to the Hindu god Ram, in Ayodhya, India, Aug. 5, 2020. Modi has been the face of an unprecedented, and unapologetic, fusion of religion and politics in India, with his Hindu nationalist party promising to build a Ram temple as part of its election strategy. Modi, who led the temple’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2020, has asked people to celebrate the consecration by lighting lamps at homes and temples. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh, File)

FILE - A construction crew works on Ram Mandir, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Ram in Ayodhya, India, on Jan. 16, 2024. Spread over an area of nearly 3 hectares, the Ram temple will be a three-story structure made in pink sandstone with intricate wall carvings and 46 doors — 42 of which will have a layer of gold totaling around 100 kilograms (220 pounds). The temple is being built at an estimated cost of $217 million, though it is far from complete. (AP Photo/Deepak Sharma, File)

AYODHYA, India (AP) — About 80 chartered flights have landed at the new international airport of India’s holy city of Ayodhya for Monday’s partial opening of the controversial grand temple for one of Hinduism’s most revered deities, Lord Ram.

Ayodhya’s airport can barely accommodate the influx of private jets. “The planes will depart after dropping guests,” airport manager Saurabh Singh said.

The temple was built over a razed mosque, and most political opposition leaders are boycotting the temple’s opening, saying it doesn’t befit a secular India.

However, the attendees are some of India’s most influential people: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, industrialists Mukesh Ambani and Gautam Adani, and Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Workers decorate a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram with flowers the day before the temple's grand opening in Ayodhya, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Workers decorate a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram with flowers the day before the temple’s grand opening in Ayodhya, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Ahead of the upcoming general election, Modi’s Hindu nationalist party is using the elaborate consecration ceremony to lobby the country’s Hindu majority.

THE LEGEND OF RAM, THE PRINCE OF AYODHYA

The temple will be the sacred abode of one of the Hindu pantheon’s most popular gods, Ram, who Hindus believe was born at the exact site in Ayodhya.

Millions of Hindus worship Lord Ram with an intense belief that chanting his name in times of adversity will bring peace and prosperity, and most of those who practice Hinduism keep idols of Ram in their homes. Major Hindu festivals like Dussehra and Diwali are associated with mythological tales of Ram extolling the virtues of truth, sacrifice and ethical governance.

A general view of the audience during the opening of a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram, in Ayodhya, India, Monday, Jan.22, 2024. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to open a controversial Hindu temple built on the ruins of an ancient mosque in the holy city of Ayodhya in a grand event that is expected to galvanize Hindu voters months before a general election. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

The mythological Hindu epic “Ramayan,” which tells the story of Ram’s journey from prince to king, has often been adapted in popular culture. One of the most-viewed fabled shows is the TV series “Ramayan” created in the 1980s, which continues to have a faithful audience.

Ram’s divinity is not only a dominant religious force in India but also part of the cultural heritage in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia.

A TEMPLE RISES

Spread over nearly 3 hectares (7.4 acres), the temple — which is still being built — has an estimated cost of $217 million. It’s made with pink sandstone, adorned with intricate carvings, and has 46 doors — 42 of which will have a layer of gold.

Anil Mishra, a member of the trust overseeing the construction, said the temple blends traditional design with cutting-edge technology and is “crafted without the use of iron, steel, or cement.”

Workers decorate a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram with flowers the day before the temple's grand opening in Ayodhya, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

A 1.3-meter (4.25-foot) dark stone sculpture depicting Ram was installed in the temple’s inner sanctum for Monday’s consecration. The religious ritual of “Pran Pratishtha,” which signifies giving life to the idol, will be conducted according to Hindu Vedic scriptures. The deity can then receive and bless devotees.

After the ceremony, the temple will open to the public and an estimated 100,000 devotees are likely to visit daily, authorities say.

AYODHYA, PAST AND PRESENT

The city known for its narrow lanes crowded with Hindu pilgrims and shops selling miniature Ram idols, has been given a facelift with modern infrastructure and services. Ayodhya’s modest airstrip has grown into an expansive international airport with a 2.2-kilometer (about 1.4-mile) runway in the first phase. The clean railway station has a daily passenger capacity of about 50,000 people.

“The historical and spiritual significance of Ayodhya makes it a compelling destination,” and a huge surge in demand is anticipated, said Ravi Singh, a representative of the Indian Hotels Company Limited.

THE CONTROVERSY

Ayodhya has been at the center of India’s turbulent politics and the Hindu majoritarian quest to redeem the country’s religious past for decades. Its diverse, multicultural past was overrun by strident Hindu nationalism after mobs demolished the 16th-century Babri mosque in 1992.

Indian Air force helicopters shower flower petals over a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram with flowers the day before the temple's grand opening in Ayodhya, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Indian Air force helicopters shower flower petals over a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Lord Ram with flowers the day before the temple’s grand opening in Ayodhya, India, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Hindus won a prolonged legal battle in 2019 , allowing them to build the temple . Hindus make up about 80% of India’s population but the country is also home to some 200 million Muslims who have frequently come under attack by Hindu nationalists.

Modi has been the face of an unprecedented — and unapologetic — fusion of religion and politics in India and led the temple’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2020.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, center, poses with workers during the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham Corridor, a promenade that connects the sacred Ganges River with the centuries-old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Varanasi, India, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)

Critics say the idea of a diverse, constitutionally secular state leading a Hindu religious ritual is deplorable. Most opposition leaders have declined the invitation, saying the event is being used for political campaigning by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which promised to build a Ram temple as part of its election strategy.

Modi has asked people to publicly celebrate the consecration by lighting lamps at homes and temples. The message is clear: Mobilization of Hindu voters will be a key issue in the upcoming national election as Modi looks to extend his rule for a record third-consecutive term.

Deepak reported from New Delhi.

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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden appears to be going all in on Wisconsin with just over 10 months to go until the 2024 presidential election.

Biden will visit Superior on Thursday to highlight how his economic agenda is "rebuilding our infrastructure, lowering costs, spurring a small business boom and creating good-paying jobs," the White House said Monday afternoon.

It is the third announced visit to the battleground state for Biden or a top administration official this week. Vice President Kamala Harris stopped in Waukesha County on Monday to highlight the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion ruling that was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2022. And Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is set to arrive in Milwaukee Friday to tout the president's job creation efforts.

The series of visits suggests Wisconsin is top of mind for the Democratic president seeking reelection in a race he has framed as a battle for American democracy. He was last in the state just over a month ago, when he visited the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce in Milwaukee to announce new directives intended to support small businesses.

The White House on Monday did not release any additional details of the trip. But Biden and his team have made a concerted effort to highlight economic wins as many voters in Wisconsin and across the country have continued to feel sour about their financial prospects.

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A Marquette University Law Poll released late last year indicated Wisconsin voters were pessimistic about the state of the economy. Just 27% of respondents described the economy as “excellent” or “good” while 36% described it as “not so good” and 37% labeled it “poor.”

Biden officials have told the Journal Sentinel that they would "visit every corner of the state" to get their message of improving economic winds to voters.

Superior, on Wisconsin's northwest border with Minnesota, is in Douglas County, an area of the state where Democrats have traditionally found success. Biden won the county by about 9 points in 2020.

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FACT SHEET: Biden- ⁠ Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Expand Small Business Access to Federal   Contracts

Office of Management and Budget guidance expands access for small businesses to high value and high use contracts; Small Business Administration revamps mentoring programs for underserved businesses interested in doing business with the government and releases new demographic data on government contracts

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced its latest actions to expand access for small businesses to the over $700 billion spent through federal contracts each year, particularly for those owned by individuals from underrepresented communities. The federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services in the world, making federal contracts a powerful tool to build wealth in underserved communities and ensure that the federal government is leveraging talent from all corners of the country. These new initiatives will advance the President’s Investing in America agenda and bold goal of increasing the share of federal contracting dollars going to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (SDBs) to 15% by Fiscal Year (FY) 2025, a 50% increase from spending levels when he first took office. 

In each of the last three fiscal years, the Administration has increased spending on contracts to small businesses on the way to this goal, with small businesses receiving nearly $163 billion in federal contracting dollars in FY 2022, $70 billion of which was earned by SDBs. Supporting small businesses and giving entrepreneurs the tools to thrive is a key pillar of Bidenomics. Under President Biden, a record 16 million new business applications have been filed, while the share of Black households owning a business has more than doubled, and the share of Latino households owning a business has increased by 40%.

In 2021, President Biden took the historic step of ordering the public release of federal contract data broken down by business owner race and ethnicity to bring increased transparency to federal contracting. New data for FY22 released today shows that businesses owned by historically underrepresented groups earned more through federal contracts across every category.

The Administration continues to stand behind our programs to support small businesses, and today, the Administration is announcing new actions to help small businesses access federal contracts, including issuing new guidance to federal agencies from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), providing new technical resources to SDBs to help them obtain contracts and expand revenue, and sharing data on federal contracts to traditionally underserved small businesses.  Actions include:

  • New OMB guidance to all federal agencies to help more small businesses participate in high use federal contracts. Today, OMB issued guidance on strategies federal agencies should adopt so that small businesses can participate in multiple-award contracts – a contract vehicle that accounts for nearly $160 billion, or over 20%, of all federal government contract dollars. Agencies rely on multiple-award contracts because they allow agencies to meet mission needs with more timely, cost-effective and streamlined competitions. To ensure that small businesses have opportunities to participate in multiple-award contracts, the guidance encourages earlier engagement and planning for multiple-award contracts to maximize opportunities for small business contract holders; additional consideration of “on-ramps” to allow for businesses to be added during the performance period of the multiple-award contract; and the use of small business set aside orders for competition among small businesses. These changes will help more small businesses participate in federal contracts, support a and resilient federal marketplace and ensure federal contracts are best delivering for the American people.
  • Improved technical assistance opportunities for small businesses looking to do business with the federal government. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is announcing a slate of major improvements to the popular 7(j) technical assistance program – now called Empower to Grow (E2G) – which is available to SDBs located in areas of high unemployment or low income. The improved E2G program will offer customized one-on-one training tailored to small business needs and guide them through the process of pursuing government contracts, convening networking and matchmaking events between government agencies and prime contractors.  In FY 2023, the E2G program provided support to 6,000 small businesses and helped 2,000 small businesses grow their participation in federal contracting. Small businesses that received training reported, on average, a 45% increase in annual revenue.

Today’s actions build on significant steps the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to support small businesses. This includes:

  • SBA expanded its lending program focused on underserved communities for the first time in 40 years and made critical program changes to increase lending to underserved small businesses.  This fall, the SBA issued new licenses to lenders in the Small Business Lending Company (SBLC) program  for the first time in 40 years . The lenders in this program have a track record of strong lending to traditionally underserved communities, and the new lenders each specialize in delivering capital to sectors and groups that face persistent capital access gaps. SBA also made critical reforms to its loan programs in 2023 that supported significant progress in addressing barriers to capital facing small business owners. In FY 2023, SBA made record gains in lending to Black, Latino, Native, AAPI, women, and veteran entrepreneurs – including $1.5 billion in loans to Black-owned businesses and $3 billion to Latino-owned businesses. Total loans and total loan dollars to Black-owned businesses more than doubled under the Biden-Harris Administration, and total loans to Latino-owned businesses doubled with total loan dollars increasing by more than 80%.
  • The Department of the Treasury administers $10 billion State Small Business Initiative (SSBCI). Funded by the American Rescue Plan, Treasury’s SSBCI program delivers funding to states, territories, and tribal governments that spur lending and investing in small businesses, and provides critical technical assistance. So far, Treasury has approved $7.7 billion in allocations to 54 states and territories and 25 tribal governments. In addition, Treasury announced a $75 million competitive grant program for states to provide services to help very small and underserved businesses access opportunities created by the President’s Investing in America agenda – which includes the historic investments made by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and American Rescue Plan – by offering them technical assistance.
  • The Minority Business Development Agency’s (MBDA) Capital Readiness Program is investing in small business incubators and accelerators. The MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program awarded $125 million to 43 non-profit community-based organizations  to help underserved entrepreneurs launch and scale their small businesses. This program, funded through the American Rescue Plan, is the largest-ever direct federal investment in small business incubators and accelerators of its kind.
  • SBA’s Community Navigators Program provides critical technical assistance.  In December 2023, the SBA released a report that found that its more than 50 American Rescue Plan-funded Community Navigators grantees had already helped to secure more than $270 million in approved funding for small businesses, trained over 350,000 business owners, and conducted 175,000 hours of one-on-one counseling. With funding set to expire by the end of this year, the Biden-Harris Administration  proposed additional funding  for the program in its FY24 Budget proposal and has called on Congress to continue the program. 

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