This post is about the White House Visitor Center and what you can find inside. It is a good option if you are unable to obtain tickets to visit inside the White House.
Visiting the White House Visitor Center
After an extensive revamping, the White House Visitor Center is open again to the public.
The restoration work took over 2 years and cost $12.5 million, much of which came from private donations through the White House Historical Association.
There are over 90 new artifacts on display, many of which have never before been on display.
The White House Visitor Center is open Wednesday - Saturday 11am-4pm (as of Oct 2021) It's completely free to visit!
There is plenty to see in the White House Visitor Center so we recommend setting aside 30minutes-1hour to explore it.
Within the White House Visitor Center, you can watch a 14-minute film that takes you inside the White House and the lives of the First Families.
Even though this theater is in the back of the visitor center, we recommend watching it first. You'll find the theatre section all the way to the left when you walk in.
There are interactive exhibits of the White House that lets you tour inside and 3D models that you're encouraged to touch.
Throughout the visitor center are lifesize photographs of the White House through various administrations.
Some of our favorite exhibits from the White House of years past:
- President Abraham Lincoln's telegraph key - the actual telegraph key Lincoln used to communicate with General Grant during Robert E. Lee's surrender.
- The desk used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, where he sat as he spoke to Americans during his fireside chats.
- A golden eagle finial that was the top of the White House flagpole in the late 1800s.
The White House Visitor Center is located at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW (map).
The entrance to the White House Visitor Center is on Pennsylvania Ave NW, just before you get to 15th St NW and across the street from Pershing Park.
TIP: It is just a few blocks from the start of our National Mall Tour near the White House and is a great option for something to do before our tour begins.
Parking near the White House Visitor Center will be limited as many of the street parking in the area is restricted to federal employees, bus parking, or subject to rush hour restrictions.
We recommend not driving there but if you must, there are parking garages nearby that offer day rates.
- Purchase a guaranteed parking spot in advance near the White House Visitor Center with SpotHero.
The White House Visitor Center is easy to get to by public transportation. The two closest metro stations (Metro Center, Federal Triangle) are both about 7-minute walk.
White House Visitor Center from Metro Center:
Metro Center is on the Blue/Orange/Silver/Red lines and one of the main stations downtown.
It has a number of exits, the closest to the White House Visitor Center being the exit on 13th and G St NW.
Once you exit the station, head south down 13th Street until you reach Pennsylvania Ave NW and turn right. The White House Visitor Center entrance will be on your left.
From Federal Triangle:
Federal Triangle is on the Blue/Orange/Silver lines. It only has one exit which is in the center of the courtyard of the Reagan International Center office complex.
If you head towards the courtyard, you'll see Pennsylvania Ave NW to your right. Turn left on Pennsylvania Ave NW and the Visitor Center will be on your left.
The White House Visitor Center has a great gift shop. This is the place where you can get the official White House Christmas Ornament!
There is also a gift shop at 701 15th St NW called White House Gifts.
Here can take a photo of yourself sitting behind a replica of the Presidential desk in the Oval Office!