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
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.
How to Prepare for a White House Tour with Kids
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 Hotel, 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).
Entering 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!
Touring the White House with Kids
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.
Tips for Touring the White House with Kids
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.
Where to Stay in Washington DC with Kids
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.
Enjoy the White House Tour with Kids!
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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