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The White House

A Visitors Guide to the White House in Washington, DC


The White House

The White House

Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

The White House, built between 1792 and 1800, is one of the oldest public buildings in Washington, DC and serves as both the home of the U.S. President and a museum of American history. George Washington selected the site for the White House in 1791 and chose the design submitted by Irish-born architect James Hoban. The historic structure has been expanded and renovated many times throughout history. There are 132 rooms on 6 levels. The decor includes a collection of fine and decorative arts, such as historic paintings, sculpture, furniture, and china.

The Blue Room is the center of the State Floor of the White House where the President formally receives guests. Large parties and receptions are held in the East Room. The Red Room is one of the four state reception rooms. The State Dining Room seats as many as 140 guests and is used for formal dinners with visiting heads of state. The President and his staff work in the West Wing, which was built in 1902 to separate the offices from the first family’s living quarters. The Oval Office is the President’s office where he meets with advisors.

See photos of the White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC.
See a map of the White House

See a map of the National Mall

Transportation and Parking
The closest Metro stations to the White House are Federal Triangle, Metro Center and McPherson Square. Parking is very limited in this area, so public transportation is recommended.

Tours of the White House
Public tours of the White House are limited to groups of 10 or more and must be requested through a member of Congress. These self-guided tours are available from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and are scheduled on a first come, first served basis approximately one month in advance. To contact your Representative and Senators, call (202) 224-3121.

Visitors who are not US citizens should contact their embassy in DC about tours for international visitors, which are arranged through the Protocol Desk at the State Department. The tours are self-guided and run from 7:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

White House Visitor Center
The White House Visitor Center is located at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets and is open seven days a week from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Watch a 30-minute video and learn about many aspects of the White House, including its architecture, furnishings, first families, social events, and relations with the press and world leaders. Read more about the White House Visitor Center

Lafayette Park
The seven-acre public park located across from the White House is a great spot to take photos and enjoy the view. It is a prominent arena often used for public protests, ranger programs and special events. Read more about Lafayette Park.

White House Garden Tours
The White House Garden is open to the public a few times a year. Visitors are invited to view the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, Children's Garden and South Lawn. Tickets are distributed the day of the event. Read more about White House Garden Tours.

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