Every spring and fall the White House opens its gates for the public to come and tour the grounds. This means you can see the Rose Garden for yourself, check out Michelle Obama’s famous vegetable garden (Friend of the Blog Olivia was reposted by MO herself while visiting the garden once!) and take photos that will make all of your friends jealous.
Tour weekends are usually in April and October, but exact dates vary each year. It is a free event, but it requires tickets. This is where speaking with someone in Congress is helpful– do it early. Every district office (in the House of Reps) gets about 20 or so tickets to give out to their constituents. Call up the office, nicely ask the staff assistant and see if you can get tickets from there.
If you can’t, all is not lost. Free timed tickets are distributed at a National Park Service tent located near the corner of Constitution Avenue and 15th Street NW in the morning (8:30) on each tour day. Lines do get realllllllllllly long so….go early, bring coffee and be prepared to wait. Everyone who wants to go needs to be in line with you because you’ll only be given one ticket at a time.
If you live in DC, work your networks and see if anyone you work with has tickets. When Shannon worked for the US Government, higher ups in her office would often be given tickets. Once you go one time, you’ve really seen it all so they tend to give them away. And if you can’t get in on Saturday, you can always try again on Sunday!
Once you get tickets, the hard part is over! Take public transit (McPherson Square or Federal Triangle are your best bet) because parking over there is not great. All visitors will need to go through an intense security process before they get on the grounds so be prepared. Strollers, wheelchairs, umbrellas (unless it has a metal tip), and cameras are allowed.
Prohibited items include: aerosols, animals (except guide dogs), backpacks (oversized), tablets/iPads, selfie sticks, balloons, food or beverages, duffle bags/suitcases, fireworks/firecrackers, insulated metal containers/water bottles/thermos, guns/stun guns/ammunition, any pointed objects, knives, mace, toy weapons, and smoking (including e-cigarettes).
SOOOOOO basically, leave everything but your camera/phone at home. It’ll be so much easier to go through the security process.
Let us know if you go! It’s a lot of fun and very cool. An absolute DC bucket list, no matter who is in office!
The Must Know Details:
- White House Garden Tours take place over two weekends in the spring and in the fall, usually in April and October.
- The event is free, but requires timed tickets so reach out to your friends on the Hill, your representative or be prepared to get up early and wait in line.
- Bring minimal items. You will go through an intense security process and a lot of things aren’t allowed in.