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Touring the Three Houses of Government in Washington, DC

The White House, the Capitol and the Supreme Court


The Three Houses of Government are key places to visit when sightseeing in Washington, DC.  The White House, the Capitol and the Supreme Court are impressive buildings and visiting them will help you understand more about the U.S. government and its history. Plan ahead and find out about how to take a tour of the three houses of government in the nation's capital.

1. Visiting the White House

Photo © Peter Gridley/Getty Images
The White House is the home and office of the President and is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. Visitors from around the world come to Washington DC and hope to visit the most famous house of government. To arrange a tour you must make a request in advance through one of your members of Congress. Without advance planning, you can visit the White House Visitor Center, located at the southeast corner of 15th and E Streets, which is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. View a short video and learn about the White House architecture, furnishings, and the Presidents and first families.

2. Visiting the U.S. Capitol

Photo © Miller Taylor

At the east end of the National Mall stands the majestic  U.S. Capitol Building, the home of our legislative branch of government. Because of increased security, the Capitol is open to the public for guided tours only. Tours are conducted from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Visitors must obtain free tickets which are available online or through your Senator or Representative. The Capitol Visitor Center has a variety of interesting exhibits about the history and operations of this house of government.

3. Visiting the U.S. Supreme Court

© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.
The Supreme Court, our highest judicial authority, is located at One 1st St., NE between E. Capitol Street and Maryland Avenue. Court is in session Monday through Wednesday from 10 a. m. until noon, October though April. You can watch a case being argued but seating is limited. Arrive at least an hour early to wait in line. When the court is not in session you can tour the building and attend a free lecture about court proceedings and the building’s architecture.

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