This week we’re focusing mostly on presidents and politics; next week it’s museums and monuments. So sit back and relax — we’ve done the prep work for you.
One final piece of advice: Make sure to be aware of each site’s rules about identification and what you can carry in. And, of course, wear comfortable shoes.
No trip to Washington would be complete without a visit to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Public tours have been offered since Thomas Jefferson was president, but you can’t just drop in. It takes a little planning. And — who knows? — you might get a glimpse of first dog Bo, just as a group of schoolchildren did last month.
Have a plan: Visits to the White House are in high demand, and you must make your request for a time slot through your congressional representative up to six months, and no fewer than 21 days, before your visit. To find your representative, go to www.house.gov and enter your Zip code, or go to www.senate.gov and enter your state under “Find Your Senators.” Be sure to check the White House tour-info Web site to verify the personal identification you’ll need as well as prohibited items (strollers, cameras, purses, etc.). And on the day of your visit, call 202-456-7041 to confirm the tour schedule.
Once you’re there: Tours begin in the East Wing — you see such public areas as the East Room and the State Dining Room — and exit through the North Portico. The rooms are smaller than you might imagine, and unless you linger, the whole thing takes about 20 minutes. Also, there are no guides, but Secret Service officers are on hand to answer questions.
What’s in the neighborhood: Before your tour, stop by the White House Visitor Center (1450 Pennsylvania Ave. NW), which has presidential exhibits and a gift shop. Continue the day’s presidential theme by seeing all commanders in chief in wax form at Madame Tussauds (1001 F St. NW).
Info: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. www.whitehouse.gov/about/tours-and-events. Self-guided tours are Tuesday-Thursday from 7:30 to 11 a.m., Friday from 7:30 a.m. to noon and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. (except federal holidays).
Transit: Metro Center, Federal Triangle or McPherson Square Metro stations.
It’s one thing to hear about the weighty decisions America’s highest court debates; it’s another thing entirely to see oral arguments and rulings delivered in person.
Have a plan: Not too much prep work is needed, unless you want to hear a specific case. For a schedule, go to www.supremecourt.gov/visiting and click on Oral Argument Calendar. Otherwise, the main trick is to show up early, because lines often form before the building opens on weekdays at 9 a.m., and you should expect large crowds for high-profile cases. You can end up waiting outside, so plan for the weather. Hour-long oral arguments are Monday-Wednesday at 10 and 11 a.m. from the first Monday of October through late April in two-week intervals (there are longer hiatuses in December and February). Occasionally there are afternoon arguments, and after oral arguments conclude for the year, orders and opinions are delivered Monday at 10 a.m. until late June.