Registering for a Capitol tour couldn't be easier. One way is to go to the official website and clicked on the button that says "Book a Tour Yourself Online". We booked our tour two weeks out and were able to get the exact date and time we were hoping for. Keep in mind that our tour was in February, which is a slow time of year for tourists and made for a crowd-free day.
First off, we parked in the short term Union Station Parking lot, about two blocks from the Capitol. There's a machine inside Union Station that validates your ticket for a dollar an hour, up to two hours. The tour is only 90 minutes at most, so you if you're on time, you can get away with parking nearby for only $2!
We arrived at the Capitol Visitors Center at 9:30 am. After a quick check through security metal detectors, we checked out coats at the free coat check. At the registration desk we gave our name and confirmation number and got a sticker with our tour group time on it We had about five minutes wander, so we checked out all of the state statues that lined the room. My favorite was the main statue, a caste of the statue that adorns the top of the Capitol dome.
|Inside of the dome|
The tour itself is comprised of a 13 minute video of about the history of the Capitol building in a small theater and a small group tour with a tour guide. We went through the halls of the Capitol along with a few special rooms, listening to our guide give us lots of fun historical facts and answer any questions that our group came up with. All in all, a fun time and a unique experience.
If you're willing to take the extra steps to contact your congressman, you can experience and even cooler tour. Ask for a Gallery Pass, which will allow you to tour the Capitol with an intern and do some extra things like viewing the Senate room while it's in session!
If we were to rate the regular tour, we'd give it 3 stars out of 5. If you have the Gallery Passes, you're easily going to jump up to a 5 star tour. All in all, worth the visit while you're in D.C. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: As always, our reviews are our own, honest opinions and may differ from yours.