According to Destination DC, 20.2 million people visited the District in 2014, and many spent time at the United States Capitol Building. While a line forms outside the US Capitol Visitor’s Center every morning for the 8:30am daily opening; neighborhood residents, many of whom have worked on the Hill, know some better ways to see the National Mall landmark.
Here’s how you can see the United States Capitol, with a little tip thrown on top.
Book a Tour With the Capitol Visitor’s Center
For a comprehensive tour of the Capitol Building, you can book a tour well in advance of your visit, or take your chances with the same day reservations and tour passes line—also known as the “Public Walk-Up Line.” Regardless which route you take, know that the Capitol Visitor’s Center and its knowledgeable docents do a great job showing large numbers of tourists around the the building, while pointing out its many treasures.
Call Your Senator or Congressman
If, like most of us, you don’t have a friend in a senator’s office, all is not lost. All you have to do is call the office of one of your state’s senators or representatives, and ask a staff assistant to set up a private tour for you.
Start with the senate side first. Since senators have six year terms, their staffers tend to stick around a bit longer and have amassed more knowledge about the Capitol and all it’s recesses.
If you happen to come when things are quiet, you will have an all access pass to parts of the Capitol people do not often see, like the Brumidi Corridors, the Foreign Relations Committee meeting room, and maybe even the original cornerstone laid by George Washington in 1793.
Fun Tip: Dress Like a Politician
One last thing: The Capitol is full of people in suits working. You can wear whatever you want when you visit, but if you want to get into character, throw on a jacket (or at least a nice shirt) and act like you’ve been there before.