The Capitol Visitors Center (CVC) was completed in 2008 and a tour of the Capitol Building should be the first stop on your list. George Washington selected the site for the Capitol at a place then known as Jenkins Hill. During the tour, you can see how the Capitol has been transformed over the last two hundred years, stand directly underneath the Rotunda, visit Statuary Hall, and visit the Old Supreme Court Chambers. If Congress is in session during your trip, you can even watch your legislators in action in the House and the Senate chambers.
In order to visit the House and Senate chambers, gallery passes are required. These passes may be obtained through my office. Guided tours of the Capitol will begin and end in the CVC. The CVC is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. There is no charge to enter the CVC or to take a tour of the Capitol. It is recommended that you plan to allow at least 90 minutes for your visit to the visitors center and to tour the Capitol. Reservations must be placed in advance either through my office or through the CVC website, which may be accessed at: www.visitthecapitol.gov.
Directly across from the Capitol, the Library of Congress is one of the most important libraries in the world. It has over 138 million books, nearly three million recordings, and countless other pieces of information. The Library was established in 1800 and originally stored in the Capitol building. Many of the original books in the Library were destroyed when the British set fire to the Capitol during the War of 1812. The collection was restarted by a donation from the private library of Thomas Jefferson, whose name was given to the original Library of Congress building.
Next door to the Library of Congress is the Supreme Court building, which houses the highest court in the land, and offers lecture tours throughout the day. The Supreme Court building was constructed in 1935. Before the construction of their current building, the Supreme Court had been housed in Philadelphia and New York as well as in two different rooms in the Capitol.
Just down the National Mall is the National Archives, where you can see the original Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Emancipation Proclamation. Also housed in the National Archives is a copy of the Magna Carta, which is more than 800 years old and provided the foundation for the Declaration and the Constitution.
Of course, the most frequent request is for a White House tour. Since 9/11, it has become more difficult to arrange White House tours. Public tours are available Tuesday through Saturday or Monday through Saturday, depending on the White House’s schedule. I encourage you to submit your request as early as you can (six months ahead if possible) since a very limited number of tours are available.
Please feel free to contact my Washington D.C. office at 202-225-6465. There is also a wealth of information on my website which could be helpful to you in planning your trip to Washington D.C.