The United States Capitol building is where the United States Congress conducts business. It’s a historic site located at the geographic center of Washington D.C.

A man and woman in front of the United States Capitol building.

The original U.S. capitol was constructed between 1793 and 1800. During the War of 1812, British forces burned down most of the capitol in 1814. It was rebuilt and during tours of the capitol, you can still see bullet holes from the British attack.

How to Tour the United States Capitol

Tours of the U.S. Capitol are free and fairly easy to get. But…

There’s a right way and wrong way to tour the United States Capitol!

The WRONG way to tour the capitol is to go online and reserve tickets or to just show up and wait in line… both of which are options. Both will have you standing in line and in a large tour group.

The RIGHT way to to tour the capitol (if you live in the United States) is to contact your local congressional representative. You’ll be able to look up your local congressperson and request a tour. Although you can request tours of several other attractions on D.C., the U.S. Capitol Building is the most likely tour you’ll receive.

Benefits of Touring the Capitol through Your Congressional Representative

We say this is the way to tour the capitol because there are many benefits to doing so.

First off, you won’t have to wait in the long lines for those with or without tour reservations.

Secondly, your tour guide will be someone that works in your congressional representative’s office. In our case, it was an intern who knew a lot about the capitol and was passionate about sharing with his boss’s constituents.

Third, you’ll be in a small (potentially very small) group of people and they’ll all be from YOUR congressional district. IF there’s anyone on your tour, they’ll be people who live near you. My wife and I had only four other people in our tour group and two of them happened to live in the neighborhood right next to us. We exchanged numbers and have since met up. New friends is always a bonus!

Final Thoughts

If you’re going to visit Washington D.C., the United States Capitol is one of the top spots you’ll want to tour. Instead of standing in long lines and touring with a bunch of random people, contact your local congress office and set up a more personal tour lead by their staff. Sometimes, they’ll be able to sneak you into some off-limits spots.

Have fun in D.C. and be sure to come back for more advice based on our real-world travels!