The White House: Visitor's Guide, Tours, Tickets & More

What You Need to Know About Visiting the White House

The White House
••• Max Bernhardt/Getty Images

Visitors from around the world come to Washington DC to tour the White House, the home and office of the U.S. President. Built between 1792 and 1800, the White House is one of the oldest public buildings in the nation's capital and serves as a museum of American history. George Washington selected the site for the White House in 1791 and chose the design submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban.

The historic structure has been expanded and renovated many times throughout history. There are 132 rooms on 6 levels. The decor includes a collection of fine and decorative arts, such as historic paintings, sculpture, furniture, and china. See photos of the White House to learn about the architectural features of the President's home.

Tours of the White House

Public tours of the White House are limited to groups of 10 or more and must be requested through a member of Congress. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tours are scheduled on a first come, first served basis, Requests can be submitted up to six months in advance and no less than 21 days in advance. To contact your Representative and Senators, call (202) 224-3121. Tickets are provided free of charge.

Visitors who are not US citizens should contact their embassy in DC about tours for international visitors, which are arranged through the Protocol Desk at the State Department.

Visitors who are 18 years of age or older are required to present a valid, government-issued photo identification. All foreign nationals must present their passport. Prohibited items include: cameras, video recorders, backpacks or purses, strollers, weapons and more. The U.S. Secret Service reserves the right to prohibit other personal items.

24-hour Visitors Office Line: (202) 456-7041


1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC. See a map of the White House

Transportation and Parking

The closest Metro stations to the White House are Federal Triangle, Metro Center and McPherson Square. Parking is very limited in this area, so public transportation is recommended. See information about parking near the National Mall.

White House Visitor Center

The White House Visitor Center has just been renovated with brand new exhibits and  is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Watch a 30-minute video and learn about many aspects of the White House, including its architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders. Read more about the White House Visitor Center

Lafayette Park

The seven-acre public park located across from the White House is a great spot to take photos and enjoy the view. It is a prominent arena often used for public protests, ranger programs and special events. Read more about Lafayette Park.

White House Garden Tours

The White House Garden is open to the public a few times a year. Visitors are invited to view the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, Children's Garden and South Lawn.

Tickets are distributed the day of the event. Read more about White House Garden Tours.

Planning to visit Washington DC for a few days? See a Washington DC Travel Planner for information on the best time to visit, how long to stay, where to stay, what to do, how to get around and more.