The White House

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1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC, USA

The White House Washington Reviews

spocklogic spocklog…
325 reviews
Another Fence on Pennsylvania Avenue Aug 12, 2015
Of course, a visit to the District of Columbia wouldn't be complete without a visit to the White House, being one of the iconic buildings of American government. Unfortunately, the White House has become more and more inaccessible with the passage of time. As other reviews have pointed out, you can't just go on a tour like in the past before 9/11 and have to write your congressman (if a US citizen) to get permission. In 2014 the White House got an ugly barricade fence to keep people away from the original iron fence, and remains guarded. In 2015 they installed some spikes to the top of the original iron fence. It's really all sort of seeming medieval at this point. One of the nice things about visiting the White House in the past is that it was accessible to the people, but it seems those days are gone for good. It's great to see the White House and have a photo op, but the place sends the message that you're not really welcome, in my opinion. It's just my personal reflection, but the kind of 'in your face' security generally tends to dampen my mood and spoil the experience for me.
The White House
The White House
The White House photo-op
The White House security guard
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
spocklogic says:
That wouldn't surprise me at all, Andrea! Maybe some hot tar and flaming cannonballs launched from a catapult too!
Posted on: Oct 06, 2015
missandrea81 says:
Next thing is a moat and drones... mark my words. :p
Posted on: Oct 06, 2015
spocklogic says:
Yeah, it doesn't seem worth the time & effort. The whole White House thing just says to me, "You're not really wanted here" and they make it as difficult as possible.
Posted on: Oct 02, 2015
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Africancrab Africanc…
777 reviews
Not Accessible! Jul 25, 2012
Another day in Washington took us the White House. I should start by saying that the tour of the White House now requires a lengthy process of requesting a tour through your congress representative if you are an American Citizen. Non-citizens or residents cannot go on the tour as far as I learned unless they apply through their embassies. If your country has no embassy, you cannot tour the White House. The waitlist to date is up to a year. Tours are available for a 2 hour window (10:00 am – 12:00 noon) Tuesday through Saturday and there are no guarantees that the scheduled tour will take place. Depending on what is going on, it could be cancelled for security reasons.

If you are an American, the mention of the name White House, automatically resonates with the living residence of the president. Everyone knows what the name means, but few may know the history behind it. The original structure was burned down by the British in 1814, the charred remains were then reconstructed and painted in white in 1817; thus the name “The White House”. Besides the fact that it is home to the president, it is also a Historic Landmark of the United States.

It was more than a month since we had contacted a friend of Mark's who worked for the secret service. We found out that we had to get our names on a list, and to expedite the process, contacting our senate representative would be a good idea. Well we never got in needless to say, but we were able to walk to the fence and see both the front and back.

After 9/11 attacks, security became stricter and barricades were placed around the white House. We found a bunch of protesters making noise about homosexuals etc, of course police was all over making sure none of them got out of hand. We snapped a few photos and walked towards the front. There were more tourists at the front than the back, we decided not to stay long, two more shots and we were off to the National Gallery of Art.

On top of the building I saw men dressed in casual dresses, they were White House security, snipers and Secret service. They are located on all buildings close to the white house, from what I heard. But that is the case when protecting the most powerful man in the world. I should like to actually have a tour of the White House sometime.
Front view
Back view
The White House 2012
The White House 2012
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Africancrab says:
I don't doubt that Ian. But it seems we won this time reading from what happened between the First lady and Prince William's bride:)) sad of course.
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012
Dr_Seuss says:
They should have had cynicism as an event at the Olympics in London, just so we could have won another gold medal ;)
Posted on: Aug 10, 2012
Africancrab says:
Ha-haa! why am I not surprised at the British cynicism? Ian, thanks for the comment, you got me laughing at the end of the day:)
Posted on: Aug 09, 2012
brettjayhawk brettjay…
26 reviews
Outside the White House Oct 13, 2011
I got dropped off at the 12 and Pennsylvania at the Post Office. Then I walked to the White House to find a bunch of hippies (nothing wrong with that) picketing in front of the web site. They were picketing the wikileaks person which was interesting. Apparently they didn’t agree that the Government arrested the military guy that passed all the secret information on to the wikileaks guy. Then on the other side of the park Libyans were protesting the war. Still very cool to see the White House wish I would have been able to go inside. They had Secret Service on the roof with binoculars. Obama was in Brazil and Clinton was in France so no one home. Def worth walking over and getting your picture in front of it but that’s about all you can do.
Police Horses
Protesting the War
Jamal1280 Jamal1280
38 reviews
An informative tour of the most famous house in the U.S. Dec 08, 2010
I was on TB thinking about a review that I can write about, when I realized that I could talk about my experience touring The White House (the home of the U.S. president) in 2009. Good idea, right? :)

I want to say up front that the process of getting into the White House that I'm about to describe only applies to Americans. I have no idea how you would be able to arrange a tour if you are not a U.S. citizen. :(

For Americans, the process of actually getting approved to tour the White House takes time (roughly six months, and even then, there's no guarantee of approval), so it's best if you plan well in advance. If you want to visit D.C. in July, for example, and you want to get into the White House, you should begin the approval process very soon.

The first thing you need to do is e-mail your congressman/congresswoman to request approval. All approvals are done through your U.S. representative's office. Just e-mail them telling them that you're interested in a White House tour and would like for him/her to arrange it for you. Of course, it will be an aide doing the dirty work on your behalf, not the actual politician :P

The aide will respond and ask you for some personal information about you and any guest that you want to bring with you (I think you're allowed to only bring two). It's not too invasive though. Mainly, you'll be asked for your full name and social security number, and what day you would like to visit. The aide may also offer you the opportunity to tour the U.S. Capitol, which is also worth a trip. :)

I went through this process and learned that I was approved about two weeks before I planned to go. The aide e-mailed the paperwork I needed to confirm my approval upon my arrival. Everything was set. :)

I was at the visitor's gate on the day of the tour with all the documents I needed, including my I.D., of course. After showing my papers, the guard let me through, and I had to walk up to this substation, where I went through a metal detector and had my papers checked again. After that, I had to walk a bit more until I got to the visitor's entrance to the White House, and then I was in! :)

The tour is, sadly, self-guided, but they give you maps with information about the rooms and halls you were allowed to see. I walked up a short flight of stairs to get to the first hallway, where there was a huge crowd of people who were also getting ready to take the tour.

On the walls on this hallway, there are family pictures and portraits on the walls of former presidents, and the current one, Obama. Most of them were candid shots of the presidents and their wives and kids. A really nice touch for the visitors.

The hallway was also being patrolled by non-smiling secret service agents, who looked like they were ready to tackle you the second you sneezed funny lol. But the actually turned out to be nice guys (I didn't see a single female agent), and they encouraged everyone to ask them any questions they had. One of the tour members asked one of the agents of Obama was in the building. The agent smirked and said the president is in the D.C. area, but he couldn't tell us where. Riiiiiight...

In that first hallway, there were a couple of rooms that were part of the tour. Both rooms were blocked off by a velvet rope, to my dismay :( But they were two of the original rooms in the White House; they had been there ever since John Adams, the second U.S. president, moved in. One of those rooms was the presidential library, filled with bookcases and books.

The middle of the hallway was blocked off by more velvet ropes and a giant screen. The secret service agent told us that this was because the hallway led to the West Wing - where the president works. For the second part of the tour, we had to go up a couple of flights of stairs. One woman was in a wheelchair, and secret service had to coordinate with each other to let her take the elevator, which was past the screen. lol I wanted to peek really bad, but I wasn't able to.

Anyway, once upstairs, we made a right down the little hallway and ended up in the East Room, which basically looks like a big ballroom and is used for presidential speeches, special presentations and White House performances. All the carpets were rolled up so we couldn't step on them. And naturally, there were ropes about a third of the way into the room so we couldn't walk around in it, and a secret service agent posted to answer questions and provide details about the room. I actually did finger one of the curtains in the room when he wasn't looking lol :)

The agent told us about the huge George Washington painting on the wall that is one of the only surviving pieces from the original White House, literally more than 200 years old. When the original house caught fire in 1814, after being set ablaze by British soldiers, Dolley Madison, the wife of fourth president James, rescued the painting. It was a pretty cool story :)

We then walked past the Green Room, Blue Room and Red Room, all of which, as you can imagine, were decorated accordingly by color and had many pictures of the former first ladies. Then we walked into the state dining room, where the president generally holds meals for visiting diplomats and heads of state. Beyond the huge table in the room were doors leading to the private dining area, where the president and his family usually eat.

And then last, but not least, we ventured into the Cross Hall, a very long hallway with red chairs and couches lining the walls. Presidents often walk down this hallway when preparing to give a speech on the steps of the North Portico, which branches off the hallway. The significant things I remember about this hallway were the grand piano across from the blocked off staircase, which led up to the bedrooms of the president and family, and all the portraits on the walls of every single past president, with exception of G.W. Bush and Obama (the rule is, a president has to be out of office for a certain length of time before his portrait is added).

This was the official end of the tour, though we were allowed to stick around for as long as we wanted. I chatted up one of the security guards, who admitted to me privately that Obama was in fact in the building somewhere. Lol I knew it! Too bad he didn't have time to great the visitors, but oh well.

I actually hung around on the steps of the North Portico for a while, thinking about how cool I was to be standing where so many presidents have given speeches in the past (Obama himself has spoken from those steps quite a bit already). I gazed out across the north lawn at the people outside the metal gate, peering at us and probably wondering how the hell we got in there. Lol

So overall, the tour was nice. I was somewhat disappointed that we weren't able to see more, considering the White House was so huge, but I was happy with what I did get to see. Whenever I see Obama on TV in the East Room or the Cross Hall or North Portico, I can say that I, too, was there at one point. For any Americans who plan to travel to D.C. and are willing to plan a White House tour in advance, I highly recommend it. You'll learn a lot. In fact, there's more that I can share, but this review is getting pretty long, so if you guys have questions, ask me and I'll try to answer :)

Oh, one more thing I should mention: Don't even think about bringing in a camera or trying to take photos or videos with your cellphone. Photographing the inside of the White House is highly restricted and will get you in trouble, which is why I sadly don't have any to share here for this review. Mostly likely, your camera will be detected when you go through metal detectors and have your bags screened (just like at the airport), and they'll hold it for you until you opt to leave.
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
Jamal1280 says:
Thank you Harriet! Yeah, just request the visit through your congressman and see how it goes :)
Posted on: Aug 09, 2012
Africancrab says:
You are so luck, we waited for 2 months but in vain, maybe we will get in sometime.
Posted on: Aug 09, 2012
camwilde camwilde
163 reviews
The White House Dec 03, 2010
The cost is free but you have to contact your congress person well in advance to get tickets.

We went in December 2010 and got a tour of the White House when it was all decorated for the Holidays. I kept my eyes open for the first family, but they don't take you to that part of the house during your tour. Pictures are also not allowed in the house, but we did get some outside.

I really enjoyed seeing where the Executive Branch of the government lives and operates. This house has a ton of history and much business is conducted for both domestic and international reasons.
Visiting as a Junior in High Schoo…
Near the front of the White House.
Near the front of the White House.
1 / 1 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
wongjst wongjst
40 reviews
Jul 10, 2007
This picture was taken 3 months right before Sep 11, 2001. The White House, which is known for the official home and office for the U.S. President.

Before the 911, as you can seen in the photo, the sidewalk served as a queuing area for the daily public tours of the White House. These tours were suspended after 911. But in 2003 it was resumed on a limited basis for groups making prior arrangements through the Congressional representatives and submitting to background checks, but the White House remains closed to the general public.

You'll also noticed that a small street between the White House and the Treasury Building was closed to the public prior to the 911. This was mainly due to the Oklahoma City bombing back in 1995.

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