How Do I Get a Ticket to Tour the Capitol Building?
You can get a ticket by standing in line on the day that you visit, but this is definitely not the recommended route. You may not even get the chance to get a tour if you arrive at a busy time, which is usually during the summer and school vacation time. The best way is to book in advance. Either way your ticket is free.
You can make a ticket reservation up to three months ahead of the time that you want to visit. There are a couple of different ways to do this. You can reserve your ticket online by yourself. It is a very easy process. Book as far in advance as possible as tours do get booked up ahead of time.
However, we suggest that the best way to reserve your tour is to go through your Senator or Representative’s office. You can do this online. This has a couple of advantages. The biggest advantage of getting tickets in this way is that you can also get tickets for the gallery of Congress. This is a fascinating way to actually see Congress in session. This really is a not to be missed experience if you get the opportunity.
Remember that Congress is only in session for around 140 days of the year so you will need to time your visit accordingly if this is an important part of your Washington experience.
The other advantage of booking through a Senator or Representative is that you will be given a guided tour of the Capitol by one of their interns. In general, this is a better experience than the general tours. Usually the tour groups are much smaller than they are for the general public so you get a better experience, and much more time to ask questions if you want to.
Visitors generally report a much better experience with a smaller tour group and you will only get that opportunity if you get your tickets through your Senator or Representative. You will find that the quality of the tour guides varies quite a lot, but generally it is more likely that you will have a better experience if you book in this way.
Photo by ttarasiuk