18 Washington D.C. Attractions that Require or Recommend Advance Tickets (and how to make them)

Before you travel to Washington DC, it’s important to plan your visit by making advance reservations at many popular attractions. It’s important to check out each website for the latest on the hours of operation. Some attractions remain closed.(updated November 29, 2022)

Entering the busy National Archives is much easier when you make advance reservations.

1 National Archives 

Where to get tickets: archives.gov/museum 

Tour times: Guided, Every 15 minutes beginning 10:30 to 90 mins before close 

Adult cost: $1.00 

Notes: walk-ins allowed, but Fast Pass is recommended  

The only way to tour the White House is with advance reservations obtained through your Congressperson or your embassy.

2. The White House 

Closed. Where to get future tickets: whitehouse.gov Must go through member of Congress. 

Tour times: Mon.–Thu., 7:30–11; Fri.–Sat., 7:30–1:30  

Max days ahead: 180 

Min days ahead: 21 

Notes: Background check is required. Tours have resumed.

The U.S. Holocaust Museum offers walk-in tickets but in the busy seasons like spring and summer, it’s best to make advance reservations for a timed ticket.

3. US Holocaust Museum 

Where to get tickets: ushmm.org 

Tour times: 9:45 am – 4:45 pm  

Max days ahead: Same day and advance tickets online  

Notes: Passes required Mar-Aug, not required September – February 

4. Treasury Building 

Closed. Where to get tickets: Must go through member of Congress. Limited to legal American citizens at this time.

Tour times: Every other Saturday morning, 9 am and 10:30 am 

Max days ahead: 180 

Min days ahead: 21 

Notes: Background check is required. Visitors must enter through the West building entrance (Bell entrance).  This entrance is located in between the Treasury Building and the White House.  A docent will meet you to escort the group into the building.

The Washington Monument Observation Area requires an advance ticket to ride the elevator to the top.

5. Washington Monument 

Where to get tickets: www.recreation.gov 877-444-6777 

Tour times: 9 am – 5 pm 

Adult cost: $1.00 processing fee 

Notes: Some same day passes on first come/first serve available, but best to reserve a ticket in advance. (You can wait around the Monument grounds and often people will have extra tickets and give them out)

6. The Pentagon 

Closed. Where to get tickets: pentagontours.osd.mil 

Tour times: Mon.–Fri., 9–3 

Max days ahead: 90 

Min days ahead: 14 

Notes: submit request, must show ID (passport, driver’s license, permanent resident card) Public tours have resumed. You will not be allowed to bring any electronics on your tour.

You can visit the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center but it’s best to order tickets in advance, though some walk-ins are available. For behind the scenes tours, you’ll need your Congressperson to help you with arrangements.

7.  U.S. Capitol 

Where to get tickets: visitthecapitol.gov for tickets 

Tour times: 9 am –3 pm weekdays only 

Max days ahead: 90 

Min days ahead: 1 

Notes: Some same day passes available, Gallery Passes obtained through Congressional representative. But all tours, programs and activities in the visitor-approved areas like the Rotunda, Statuary and the Crypt are free of charge. Visitors enter through the Capitol Visitor Center, located underground on the east side of the Capitol. 

8. Ford’s Theater National Historic Site 

Where to get tickets: fords.org for Historic Site Visit 

Tour times: Daily, 9–4 

Adult cost: $3 

Max days ahead: 90 

Min days ahead: 1 

Notes: Advance reservations strongly encouraged. Limited number of Same Day passes are available for timed-entry every half hour from 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Monday – Sunday. The Theatre is not included in every ticket. 

You’ll need advance tickets to visit Ford’s Theatre Museum

9. Department of State Diplomatic Reception Rooms 

Where to get tickets: diplomaticrooms.state.gov For information call  202-647-3241 

Tour times: Mon.–Fri., 9:30, 10:30, 2:45 

Max days ahead: 90 

Min days ahead: 1 

Notes: Fine Arts tour, not appropriate for children. 

Background The State Department building is a secure facility, and visitors will need to check in at the information desk inside the C Street entrance. Be sure to bring photo identification. You must be pre-cleared or cleared in by an employee for a tour.

10.  Frederick Douglass National Historic Site 

Where to get tickets: nps.gov/frdo 

Tour times: Daily, 9, 12:15, 1:15, 3, 3:30 (walk-ins only), 4 (Apr.±Oct.) 

Adult cost: $1.50 

Max days ahead: 90 

Notes: Same day passes available, currently closed for renovation until 2023. 

Frederick Douglass House and Museum in Anacostia

11. President Lincoln’s Cottage 

Where to get tickets: lincolncottage.org 

Tour times: Mon.–Sat., 10–3; Sun., 11–3 

Adult cost: $15, Kids $5 (should be 6 or older) 

Max days ahead: 90 

Min days ahead: 0 

Notes: Advanced tickets suggested. On site tickets are sometimes available. 

President Lincoln’s Cottage in the Old Soldiers Home is a worthwhile and lesser known tour. Some walk-ins are allowed. But it’s best to reserve a timed ticket.

12. Bureau of Engraving and Printing 

Where to get tickets: Tickets required on day of visit beginning at 8:30 am.  

Tour times: Mon.–Fri, 8:15–8:45, 4–4:45 

Max days ahead: 90 

Min days ahead:  

Notes: Tickets only required Mar-Aug; can be picked up at ticket window for other times. Currently closed.

You can do a walk-in tour of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Museum and Theatre, but to tour the Reading Room, you’ll need advance reservations.

13. Folger Shakespeare Library 

Where to get tickets: folger.edu 

Tour times: Saturday at noon 

Max days ahead: 60 

Min days ahead: 1 

Notes: This is for READING ROOM TOURS; regular tours do not require tickets. Currently closed for renovations.

14. FBI Experience 

Where to get tickets: Security approval required. Must go through member of Congress. 

Tour times: Mon.–Fri. 9 am -4:30 pm 

Max days ahead: 35 

Min days ahead: 21 

Notes: No Federal Holidays, must be 16 or older with government issued ID. Currently closed

National Museum of African American History and Culture offers tickets in advance and some walk up too.

15. National Museum of African American History and Culture 

Where to get tickets: Timed entry passes available online, required on Saturday and Sunday 

Tour times: Mon.–Fri. 10 am -5:30 pm 

Adult cost: free 

Max days ahead: 90 days 

Notes: Walk-in entry on Monday-Friday from 1 pm until close on March-August 

The International Spy Museum recommends you buy tickets in advance during the busier seasons.

16. International Spy Museum

Where to get tickets: tickets.spymuseum.org


Adult (13-64) – $26.95
Youth (7-12) – $16.95
Child (6 and under) – FREE (ticket required)

Hours: Thursday through Wednesday 9 am – 7 pm

Location: L’Enfant Plaza Station. Rooftop viewing. Spies under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Planet Word is the hot new museum filled with interactive experiences for all ages.

17. Planet Word

Where to get tickets: https://planetwordmuseum.org/plan-your-visit/

Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Last entrance time is 3:30 p.m.

925 13th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20005
Entrance on K Street

Cost: General admission is free, with a suggested $15 donation to support the museum’s mission-driven programs, exhibits, and educational outreach.

18. Museum of the Bible

Museum of the Bible does allow walk-ins, but advance tickets are less expensive.

Reserve Online for discount tickets: https://www.museumofthebible.org/plan-your-visit

Hours: Open 7 days a week from 10 am – 5 pm

Cost: Adult Advance tickets $19.99 Walk Up: $24.99

Seniors, Military, First Responders, and Students $19.99

Youth (Ages 5–17) $13.99, Walk up $14.99

Children (Ages 4 and under) Free

Old Post Office Tower

Where: Located at the intersection of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Ave N.W. (part of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel) Information

Cost: Tickets are Free, No reservations needed

Hours: 9 am – 4 pm, tours commence every five minutes

Self-Guided Tours begin from the elevator lobby on the stage level of the Old Post Office Pavilion. Visitors board the glass elevator to the exhibit area, then the elevator rises 270 feet viewing area.

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Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.

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