Planning a trip to Washington, D.C. can be a daunting task. It can be overwhelming to make sure you’ve put everything on your to-do list, especially with the massive amount of rich history there is on every corner of the city. While several big tourist spots are open to the public and don’t require reservations or tickets, like the Smithsonian Museums or many of the monuments, there are a few that you’ll want to be sure to plan ahead to make your reservations for so you don’t miss out.

A White House Tour

Seeing the White House is something Americans remember for the rest of their lives. Walking through the halls, you can feel the greatness that has occupied this historic residence for centuries. Reserving your tour can only be done through your Congress Representative. Find who that is here, along with a link to their website where you can request a tour.Tours can be booked up to three months in advance, but no less than 21 days in advance. It is recommended to book tours as early in advance as you can to ensure your request is accepted. Before your visit, be sure to read over what you need for entry, along with the lists of prohibited and permitted items inside the White House.

 A Capitol Tour

As one of the main focal points of D.C., the Capitol Building is a must-see on your visit to Washington. With the help of your Senator or Representative, tours are easy and free. Gallery passes for the Senate or House can also be obtained through your Senator or Representative. Find more information about gallery passes here. Public group tours can also be scheduled from the Capitol Visitors Center. On these tours, you’ll see things like the Capitol Rotunda and its famous paintings and sculptures, National Statuary Hall, and the Capitol September 11th memorial, where the 40 heroic Flight 93 passengers are honored for saving the Capitol building. Be sure to check out the Capitol Visitors Center website for more information about planning your tour.

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 The Holocaust Museum

The Holocaust Museum is one of the most popular and moving tourist destinations in D.C. With multiple exhibits, artifacts, and stories, it’s easy to see why this attraction is always so full. Tours are booked long in advance, depending on the time of the year. Spring and Summer are the busiest seasons for the museum. During these months, there are three ways to get free tickets into the exhibits; advance tickets online, same day tickets online, and same day tickets in person. Each option has different restrictions, so check here for details. Visit the Holocaust Museum’s website for any other information for planning your visit.

 Mount Vernon Tours

With a quick 15 minute drive south of D.C., Mount Vernon is a must-see for all history buffs visiting the Washington area. As the estate of George Washington for most of his life, the house, grounds, and museum can take up a whole day of touring and exploring. See things like the tomb of George and Martha, the seemingly endless gardens, the slave memorial, the fields and fishery, and the fully operational distillery. Admission is $18 for adults and additional guided tour tickets can be purchased for anywhere from $4 – $11. There are several guided tours to choose from including a National Treasure tour, a sightseeing cruise, a Women of Mount Vernon tour, and even a tour that involves pups! Find a list of these tours here.

City Bus Tours  

If you’re looking for a step-saving way to see as many monuments, memorials, and museums in D.C. as you can, a bus tour would be your best option. Most lines have different route and price options starting at $40, some including a moonlight memorial tour. They can take you from the Jefferson Memorial to the spy museum to the Library of Congress and everything in between. Old Town Trolley even has a stop at Arlington Cemetery. These tours usually require advance tickets. Some can be found the day of at the bus line’s main office if you’re lucky. The great thing about most of these lines is they have multiple buses running on each route throughout the day. You can stay at each stop for as long as you like and wait for the next bus to pick you up. Other great options include Big Bus and DC Trails.

Touring our nation’s capital and all of its history is a trip Americans cherish for years. Keeping these five plan-ahead tips in mind can help to make your visit memorable and stress-free.

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Emilie N
Emilie is an FFL Cabinet Member from the upper Midwest. She loves her mama, loves Jesus, and America, too. When she's not cheering on the Minnesota Vikings or obsessing over the Olympics, you can find her watching Friends or petting a dog.

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