White House Washington: where it is and how to visit the White House

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Joel Fulleda

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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The residence of the President of the United States is perhaps the most important and recognizable symbol of political power in the world. Together with the Capitol, it is one of the most historically important attractions, not only for Washington DC but for the United States in general.

So let's go to the discovery of its history, of the nearby attractions, of the best places to refresh yourself after a long day walking along the National Mall and the thing that may interest you the most: how, and if possible, visit the White House.


  • Where is the White House and how to get there
  • Visit the interior of the White House
  • White House Visitor Center
    • Opening time
  • President's Park
  • Special events
    • National Christmas Tree Lighting
    • White House Easter Egg Roll
    • White House Garden Tour
  • Washington monuments nearby
  • Where to eat in the area
  • Where to sleep nearby
  • Tour of the surroundings
  • History of the White House

Where is the White House and how to get there

The address of the White House in the United States it is almost as well known as the building it houses. We are talking about the 1660 Pennsylvania Avenue used, among other things, as the title for a well-known Leonard Bernstein musical staged on Broadway, as well as for well-known television series.

The metro stops that will leave you near the White House are more than one. To understand which one is best for you to use, you must first decide where to start your visit. Generally the most important reference points are three:

  • Lafayette Square from where you can see the north facade of the White House.
  • Constitution Avenue which to the south marks the boundary between The Ellipse park and the National Mall.
  • White House Visitor Center which is basically halfway between the two extremes.

The subway lines Blue, Orange, Silver they serve the stations Federal Triangle (a seven minute walk from the Visitor Center and ten minutes from Constitution Ave), McPherson Square e Farragut West Station (5 minutes walk from Lafayette Square park).

Stop Metro Center Station it is a little further away than the others (it is about ten minutes walk from both Lafayette Square and the Visitor Center) but it has the advantage of being reached, in addition to the other lines we have already mentioned, also by the line Red.

Visit the interior of the White House

How to visit the White House is the question that many ask us and the answer is not easy to give, let's see why. American citizens can forward the request to their political representative in the United States Congress. For the Foreign citizens, which is the case that interests us the most, the procedure is a bit more complicated. In fact, you will have to contact theSpanish Embassy in Washington and submit a formal request indicating the names, personal data of the people who want to visit and a reference period.

Please note:: at the moment the Spanish Embassy in Washington maintains that, despite what is stated by the institutional website, it is not possible for foreign citizens to be allowed to visit the White House. If you are particularly interested, I recommend that you periodically monitor the official website to check for any changes or contact the official channels directly. Meanwhile, to pass the wait, Google Maps offers you the chance to take a virtual tour of the White House.

Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
  • The best areas to sleep
  • What to see in 1 day
  • How to get around the city
  • I National Mall
  • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
  • The Best Time to Visit Washington
  • Where to eat in Washington

White House Visitor Center

It is located at 1450 Pennsylvania Avenue and, if you haven't been able to visit the White House, you can still find out more about its history thanks to the exhibits, which will give you the opportunity to observe many objects that belonged to American presidents. Thanks to the presence of an interactive touchscreen you can also make a virtual tour and, in the inevitable gift shop, buy some souvenirs.

Opening time

The visitor center is open daily from 7:30 am to 16 pm with the exception of January 25st, Thanksgiving, and December XNUMXth.

Entrance is free.

President's Park

The park surrounding both sides of the White House is the President's Park, which includes many memorials and statues related to the history of the United States. If you want to explore it in its entirety, you need to know that there are two paths, one that covers the northern part of the White House and one that covers the south. The start of both is from the Visitor Center.

Il north route will take you through Sherman Park, to continue towards Pennsylvania Avenue and Lafayette Park, with its numerous statues, including the one dedicated to Jackson located in the center of the park, to end in front of the imposing First Division Monument.

Il path south he will take you on a tour around the park known as The Ellipse where, among other things, the National Christmas Tree is hosted every year, ending along the fence that surrounds the White House South Lawn. Also in this case it is necessary to point out some of the most important monuments you will encounter, including the Boy Scout Memorial and the Second Division Memorial, dedicated to the fallen of this division of the United States Army in the two World Wars.

Special events

During the year special events are held which, if you are in the area, will certainly allow you to live a special experience. Let's see what they are and in what period they take place.

National Christmas Tree Lighting

It's a tradition started by 1923th President Calvin Coolidge on Christmas Eve XNUMX. A giant Christmas tree is decked out with something like 2500 colored lights. The ceremony is usually held on December XNUMXst of each year and tickets to participate are awarded through a lottery. For more information you can check directly on the official website of the event.

White House Easter Egg Roll

After the event under the Christmas holidays, here is a tradition that is perpetuated during the Easter holidays. We owe the institutionalization of this event to President Hayes who in 1878 authorized children to roll their Easter eggs along the White House garden. Again to participate in the event it is necessary to go through a lottery. As you may have understood, however, this event is designed specifically for children rather than tourists, however, we refer you to the official website for all the relevant information.

White House Garden Tour

For just one weekend during the spring and one weekend during the fall, the South Grounds of the White House are open to the public. Visitors are allowed to visit two gardens: the Rose Garden close to the West Wing and the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden near the East Wing. In order to access this event it will be necessary to obtain a free ticket, which is distributed from XNUMX in the morning of the same day at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion. For information regarding the annual dates of this event, refer to the official channels.

Washington monuments nearby

Among the things to see in Washington near the White House, given the subject of the article, I wanted to point out only those inherent to American history and politics, leaving out the many others.

Lincoln memorial
Capitol Hill
  • Washington Monument: it is the white obelisk that stands out in the center of the plain of National Mall. Until recently it was possible to visit and climb to its top, from which one was able to admire a unique view of the city, being the tallest building in Washington. If you want to visit it, however, you will have to arm yourself with patience because until 2019 it will not be reopened to the public due to the modernization works of the lift. At night it is a pleasure to photograph it given its beautiful lighting.
  • Lincoln memorial: site particularly relevant to the political and cultural history of the United States. Dedicated to President Abraham Lincoln, it is from here that Martin Luther King delivered the famous I have a dream speech.
  • jefferson memorial: dedicated to the American president Thomas Jefferson, it was built near an artificial lake. If you pass this way in spring you will be amazed by the beautiful panorama created by the flowering of the many cherry trees present.
  • United States Capitol: or the imposing US Capitol where the US Congress meets. Built in a neoclassical style, it is one of the few government offices that can be visited, so why not take advantage of it? Even if you do not intend to take a tour inside, it is still worth a visit at least from the outside, not only for its beauty but also for the overall view that can be admired on the expanse of the National Mall.
  • Military cemeteries and memorials: certainly the largest and best known Washington cemetery is that of Arlington, where over 350000 American soldiers are buried, there is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the mortal remains of Kennedy, his wife Jaqueline and his brother Robert are preserved. Along the National Mall however, there are many memorials erected in memory of the sacrifice of American soldiers who fought in the most important wars in the history of the United States. Among the most significant is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.
jefferson memorial
Arlington National Cemetery

Where to eat in the area

As you can imagine there are many places to eat, here we point out four that are really a few steps from the White House.

  • Old Ebbitt Grill (675 15th St NW): historical business in its own way considering it has been in business since 1856 and is among the most famous restaurants in Washington. Many decide to have lunch or dinner in this restaurant not only for the quality of the food but also for the beauty of the premises.
  • The Hamilton (600 14th St NW): double menu thanks to which you can choose between classic American cuisine and sushi.
  • Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab (750 15th St NW): if you love fish dishes, consider this restaurant which still offers excellent meat courses.
  • Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken (1308 G St NW): so far we have only talked about restaurants but if you are more of a fast food type, or you want to save some money without compromising the quality of the food, you can consider this place. Arm yourself with patience, however, because sometimes the wait in line can be long.

Where to sleep nearby

If you want some general advice on where to sleep in Washington we talked about it in our article in which we make an overview of the main districts of the city with all their pros and cons, and we give you a series of tips to choose the most convenient hotels.

Below you will find a list of the main hotels in the vicinity of the White House at 5 maximum 10 minutes walk from the White House

  • The Hay-Adams
  • Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square
  • Club Quarters Hotel in Washington
  • AKA White House

Find all hotels near the White House

The Watergate Hotel deserves special mention: it is not as close to the White House as the others (about half an hour on foot) but for some it could be intriguing to sleep in a hotel room that during the Nixon administration was the involuntary protagonist. of one of the best-known political scandals in contemporary history.

Discover all the hotels in Washington

Tour of the surroundings

There are numerous tours that will make you appreciate the surroundings of the White House, including cruises on the Potomac River that will allow you to enjoy an unusual view of the city.

Discover all the tours of Washington DC

History of the White House

To conclude, a few brief historical notes on the events that saw the White House as protagonist.

Construction of the White House began in 1792 under the supervision of the architect James Hoban. On November 1800, XNUMX, John Adams was the first president of the United States to take the White House as his residence.

However, only 12 years passed from the day of the inauguration of John Adams to the fire caused by the English troops during the war of 1812 which also involved a large part of the city of Washington. Only the external walls remained intact and the restoration work went on from 1815 to 1817. In the following years there was no lack of expansion works which, however, put the entire building increasingly in danger.

It then came to 1948 when the White House was declared at risk of collapse and during the Truman administration the entire complex was almost completely rebuilt in the interior as evidenced by this photo.

Are you headed to Washington? You discover...
  • The best areas to sleep
  • What to see in 1 day
  • How to get around the city
  • I National Mall
  • How to outline an itinerary based on the days available
  • The Best Time to Visit Washington
  • Where to eat in Washington
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