Canadians help w/ D.C. tours

Jun 16th, 2004, 02:20 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 536
Canadians help w/ D.C. tours

I'm posting on both Canadian & US since it's the Canadians who will probably know the answer...

I've talked to our Embassy in Washington DC (as recommended by DC Tourism) about reserving tours of the Capitol, White House, or Supreme Court. The Embassy has given up trying. They say Tourism Board tells every foreign tourist to talk to their embassy, but the embassy cannot get anywhere with this in time. DC tourism board is too slow replying / confirming anything -- so our Embassy has given up helping tourists.

Has anyone else experienced this problem? Should I just forget about trying to get tours of above-mentioned buildings?

I understand it's a new policy - no foreigners allowed (unless they go through their Embassy) since 9/11.
Syv is offline  
Jun 16th, 2004, 03:15 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 109
We were in Washington last summer. You can sign up for a free tour of the Capitol Building - you see the Rotunda and a few other rooms. There is a booth in front of the Capitol that gives out free tickets for these tours starting first thing in the morning until the tickets are all gone. We were there about 9:30 a.m and got tickets for a tour at 2:30. You have to get there early though - most tours are booked by 10:00 a.m. You don't get to go to the Galleries (from what I understood - you had to get passes from your Congressman, not very easy for Canadians). If you are going in the summer, I don't think Congress is in session anyways. We didn't see too many people besides tourists around there.
When we were there, there were no tours of the White House (this may have changed since then). Since 9/11 there are no tours of the White House. They have built a White House Visitor Center across from the White House for tourists to visit. Go early, as it closes at 4:00 p.m. In fact we found that almost everything in Washington closes around 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. - even the Smithsonian Museums. That was kind of disappointing, as we didn't have time after our Capitol tour to see much else.
If your time is limited, I can recommend the Grayline Night Tour - you visit all the Monuments in the evening and they are sometimes more impressive with the night lighting. Have fun.
Cathy61 is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 04:50 AM
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Thanks. Will try to see all we can while there. We'll be there for July 4th fireworks too! Can't wait...
Syv is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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There was talk recently about reopening the White House for tours but I think it's still closed. Cathy is right about the Capitol-follow her advice on that one. Don't be reluctant to ask any Capitol Police Officer (you'll see lots) about exactly where to go to get tickets or any other info. You might stumble across a grumpy one, but most are nice and ready to help. I believe the Supreme Court still has tours open to the general public, too, which are free, as is the Library of Congress, all within easy walking distance. If you can get away with perhaps only wearing fannypacks instead of large handbags or backbacks it will be easier going through security checkpoints.

D.C> in the summer can be very hot and very humid. Be ready to swealter-ha! Drink plenty of fluids. Also, there will be mobs of people streaming onto the national mall for the July 4th fireworks that evening, counting perhaps into the hundreds of thousands!!
They are set of just off the Washington Monument area so that is where most people stream to and sit on blankets for hours waiting for the sun to go down.
Unfortunately, given the climate of concern following the Sept. 11th attacks, the relatively open Washington I once knew will probably never be again. But then again, having a jetliner flying up the Potomac at treetop level and plowing into the Pentagon (just across the river) is a very sobering experience. I no longer live in the DC area, but the changes since then make it tougher for tourists, what with security restrictions. They create longer lines than before, so have some patience and really enjoy the city.
waltd is offline  
Jun 17th, 2004, 09:58 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 536
Thanks all. Yes I was in Washington DC for July 4th fireworks a few years back (pre 9/11). The adrenalin rush of being in the midst of such a throng of people is part of the fun (at least for me).

The security and organization of a major event like that impressed me. I'm sure it's even stiffer since 9/11.

Thanks all. Yep - it'll be a scorcher for heat likely too.

Syv is offline  

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