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 to see the cherry blossoms that frame the Tidal Basin in a cloud of light pink. The National Park Service explains there are more than 2,500 Yoshino cherry trees along the Tidal Basin and other parts of the city. If you are planning to travel to Washington, D.C., this spring, now is a good time to start planning and requesting tours.
Information is available on my website, at https://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 always requires a reservation through a congressional office and opens its reservations calendar three months in advance. The White House limits the number of daily visitors. So, 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.
Many buildings of the Smithsonian border the National Mall, the park spanning the area between the U.S. Capitol and the Washington Monument. Smithsonian visitors can see pieces of our collective history, such as the original Star-Spangled Banner and an exhibit dedicated to the First Ladies and their contributions to the nation. Entry is free to all Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the only Smithsonian museum requiring tickets, which can be reserved on the museum’s website, https://nmaahc.si.edu/visit/passes. The museum also releases advance timed entry passes for individuals on the first Wednesday of each month, and there are a limited number of same-day tickets that become available each day at 6:30 AM. However, beginning in January 2019, walk-up entry will be available weekdays after 1:00 PM and all day weekdays in the fall and winter.
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 service members. This includes the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, Korean War Veterans Memorial and the World War II Memorial.
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. Also, 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.
This is a mere snapshot of capital-area attractions. Please feel free to reach out to me with questions and to schedule tours.
Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has served in the U.S. Senate since 1999. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Independent-Enterprise.