At least once in an American’s life, a visit to the very heart of the nation’s democracy should be experienced. A trip to the US Capitol Washington DC is an interesting way to learn. The US Capitol is not only a place where the US legislature convenes. It also houses working offices and showcases an extensive collection of American art. The building itself has even become an attraction with its stately dome and its magnificent architecture.
A tour of the US Capitol starts at the newly completed US Capitol Visitor Center. This 580,000 square feet complex is an underground facility at the east side of the Capitol. To start off the educational experience, you will visit the Exhibition Hall. There you will learn about the Congress and the Capitol. There are also restaurants and gift shops in the Visitor Center. You might also want to check their website for lectures, events, or special activities for building your schedule.
After taking your tour of the Visitor Center, you will be led on a tour by a Congressional staff.
***** Previously, visits to the US Capitol had to be scheduled ahead of time through your senator or congressman – A visitor to this site sent me this information recently –
“Thank you for posting these tips. I wanted to let you know that you no longer need to contact your Congressman to get a tour of the capitol. The new visitors center is very nice, and you can show up at any time during regular hours for a tour. I think tours are conducted every hour, but if not, they happen several times a day.” **********
See the Senate and the House in Session
If you visit during times when the Senate or the House is in session, you can actually sit in the galleries and while they are in session. You do need to get gallery passes from the offices your Senators or Representatives to be able to watch the sessions.
While access to the US Capitol Visitor Center is free, you might want to check if you have pay for certain activities or events you wish to participate in. You can allot about an hour and half for your tour of the Visitor Center and the Capitol. Or longer if you wish to stick around. But, there are a lot more other activities you can take your kids to while in the area. Schedule a visit to the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institute, the US Botanical Garden, and the US Supreme Court along with your visit to the US Capitol.