United States Capitol
East Capitol St NE & First St, Washington, District of Columbia, 20004 | 202-226-8000
Attractions, Family / Kids
The U.S. CapitolRising up atop "the Hill," the United States Capitol is where the Senate and House of Representative meet and work. Visitors to the Capitol can get a taste of history when they stroll the magnificent grounds of this government seat. Start at the Capitol Visitor Center, which is the main entrance to the Capitol. Here you'll find fascinating exhibitions and displays of historic documents.
Hours -Capitol Visitor Center is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Inauguration Day.
Prices -Admission is free.
Tips -Food and drink are not allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center, including unopened packages and bottles. Other prohibited objects include guns, knives, aerosol cans, large bags, and pepper spray. Cameras are permitted, although photography is restricted in some areas.
- Explore the Visitor Center
- Walk Capitol Hill grounds
- View House and Senate galleries
- Family programs in
- Take a Capitol tour
Capitol Visitor CenterA visit to the United States Capitol begins with a stop at the Visitor Center. Opened in 2008, the underground Center is the main entrance just below the East Plaza. There are two levels and lots to explore including Exhibition Hall with its displays about the history of the Capitol and Congress. There are also two gift shops and a restaurant in the Visitor Center. About 90 minutes is a good amount of time to set aside here.
Construction of the CapitolThe Capitol design came out of an architectural competition. The winners, William Thornton, an amateur; and Stephen Hallet, a professional French architect, collaborated on the final design. Construction began in 1793, and Congress was able to meet in the building in 1800. The Rotunda was added later, completed in 1826. Almost 50 years after, Frederick Law Olmstead, famous for designing New York’s Central Park, improved upon the grounds surrounding the Capitol, creating a harmonious, monumental tribute to Capitol Hill.
Can I take a tour of the Capitol?Capitol tours beyond the Visitors Center must be reserved in advance through the office of your Senator or Congressional representative. This can be done online or by visiting their offices in the Capitol building. If you want to book a tour yourself instead of through your representative (or if you are an international visitor), you can do so online through the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center Online Reservation System.
Can I watch the Senate or House in session?To see the members of Congress in action in their galleries, visitors must obtain passes from the office of their U.S. Representative or Senator. International visitors can inquire about gallery passes at the Capitol Visitor Center’s Upper Level, which is where the House and Senate Appointment Desks are located. If they are not in session, passes may be used to visit the galleries when they are open, usually Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. Check their schedules online.
Map/DirectionsDriving Direction to United States Capitol
FromGET DIRECTIONS or Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport
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