Getting a tour of the West Wing of the White House is perhaps the toughest ticket in Washington, DC, but if you do get one, it’s the Golden Ticket.
Several guides at DC By Foot have toured the West Wing.
They are scheduled from 7:30 in the morning until 9:30 at night, though you cannot tour the West Wing during business hours or when the President is working.
Unfortunately, we can’t help you arrange a tour of the West Wing, but we can tell you who can visit the West Wing, how to apply, and what you will see.
HOW TO GET A WEST WING TOUR
Your best chance of getting a tour is to be a friend or family of a White House employee.
So, who do you have to know? It’s an exclusive club:
- Friends and family of authorized White House employees
- Celebrities and political activists
- Friends and prominent supporters of members of Congress
Celebrities and prominent political activists must apply directly to the White House Office of Political Affairs. If you are a friend of a prominent member of Congress, that member may apply to the Office of Political Affairs on your behalf.
If you are fortunate enough to be booked on a West Wing tour, you will receive a link directly from the WH asking you to provide the following information:
- Full Name
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number (only U.S. residents 18 and older)
- City and State of Residence
Once you provide that information, you will receive a strict set of rules for your visit. The most important one is bags: the size must not exceed 4x6 inches. Also, no phones are allowed, so you’ll have to lock it away upon entry.
In the days before your tour, the Secret Service will conduct a rigorous background check, and when you arrive at the White House for your tour, there is additional security screening. Don’t forget your government-issued ID.
The check-in point is at 17th and E St NW. Upon arrival, you will be given a temporary badge that you will wear for the duration of your tour. Yes. You have to return it following your visit.
After passing through security, you will follow your guide (the White House employee) past the south façade of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where you will round a corner to the left.
And there it will be: the entrance to the West Wing! It is an extensive tour, allowing you to see the inner workings of the West Wing and the surrounding exterior grounds, all under the watchful eye of Secret Service members, who will happily answer questions and tell you stories. Be sure to ask about the ghosts in the White House. There are lots of them!
So, what exactly do you get to see?
- Navy Mess
- Situation Room
- West Colonnade
- Rose Garden & South Lawn
- Cabinet Room
- Oval Office
- Roosevelt Room
- West Wing Lobby
- James P. Brady Press Briefing Room
As you are not allowed to bring your phone (or cameras) into the West Wing, the only place where photos are allowed is the Press Briefing Room.
As part of a West Wing tour, you will also visit the adjacent Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where you will see the following:
- Second Gentleman’s Office Suite (exterior only)
- The Vice President’s Ceremonial Office
- Secretary of War Suite
- The Cordell Hull Room
- The Diplomatic Reception Room
- The Indian Treaty Room
- The War Library
- The East and West Rotundas
- Truman Bowling Alley
So, if you are lucky enough to get this Golden Ticket, a tour of the West Wing will surely be a highlight of your time in Washington, DC.