March 02, 2020

Weekly Column: Time To Plan Spring And Summer Washington, D.C., Visits

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Idahoans who visit our United States Capitol Building may have seen Idaho’s contributions to the collection of statues donated by each state to honor people notable in each state’s history.  Rooms and halls of the Capitol are adorned with this collection of statues.  Idaho has given statues of two notable Idahoans—George Laird Shoup and William Edgar Borah—that pay tribute to the service of these esteemed individuals and represent the many Idahoans who are part of our state and nation’s deep history.  If you are planning to travel to Washington, D.C., this spring or summer to see the many area attractions, now is not too early to plan and request tours. 

Washington, D.C., is a popular tourist destination at all times of year, but March through June are especially busy times for tours.  People from all over the world visit our capital in the spring.  Information is available on my website, at www.crapo.senate.gov/services/visiting-dc, that includes a list of sites and tour tips. 

Most tours can be scheduled and conducted on your own, but some require reservations through a congressional office.  You may fill out a tour request form on my website to request Capitol, White House, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of the Treasury tours.  The White House limits the number of daily visitors.  Our chances improve significantly with more advance notice.  If possible, please give more than three months’ notice for White House tours, and three months’ notice for Treasury tours.  One to three months minimum notice is encouraged for Capitol and FBI tours.  Similar advance notice is encouraged for Library of Congress and Bureau of Engraving and Printing for tours scheduled between April and September. 

The Washington Monument, Capitol building, and the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials are obvious attractions, as they are easily visible upon arrival.  However, sightseers can see many fascinating parts of our history beyond the main attractions.  Visitors with comfortable shoes can walk along the National Mall stopping at various Smithsonian buildings and nearby sites, including the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and memorials honoring our nation’s servicemembers.  The memorials include the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial

Many buildings of the Smithsonian border the National Mall.  Entry is free to all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., and this immense museum has no shortage of remarkable exhibits to peruse.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only Smithsonian museum requiring tickets during certain peak times and seasons, and groups are required to have passes every day during peak and off-peak seasons.  Timed-entry passes can be reserved through the museum’s website, nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes

Arlington Cemetery is a short drive or Metro ride across the Potomac River.  Visitors can watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  In addition, many Civil War battlefields, including Bull Run/Manassas, Antietam and Fredericksburg, are less than one hour away.  Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home, is just 15 miles south of downtown Washington, and Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, is located near Charlottesville, Virginia.  Washington is also home to many art galleries, including the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts and the Corcoran Gallery.  These are just some of the many capital-area attractions.

Washington, D.C., is a beautiful city with a lot of history, notable architecture, impressive museums, political landmarks and family-friendly activities.  Please contact me if you have questions and need help arranging tours.  I look forward to seeing you in our nation’s capital. 

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