President’s Park (White House) | PARK AT A GLANCE

North face of the White House

North face of the White House


The tradition of public tours of the White House has been around since Thomas Jefferson took office in 1801. However, it wasn’t until the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001 that the current ticket system evolved. Today the White House is open to citizens from any country who can pass a background check. American citizens must apply for a ticket through their congressman’s office, and all congressmen have websites set up to handle requests online. Foreign citizens can apply through their local embassy in Washington, D. C. Requests must be made between three months and twenty-one days in advance. The tour is self-guided and includes visits to rooms on the ground and first floor of the building. No access is permitted to the two upper floors where the president lives, nor to offices in the East and West Wings, which are not part of the original White House anyway.

President’s Park also consists of a Visitor Center located in the Herbert Hoover Building (aka Department of Commerce Building), which is next to the White House on 15th Street. Former presidents recollect their stay at the White House in a 15-minute film that shows every twenty minutes, and the history of the White House comes alive through exhibits worthy of a Smithsonian museum. It is by far the fanciest Visitor Center in the National Park system.

Visitors are also welcome to walk the grounds surrounding the White House, but keep in mind that this does not include the North and South Lawns, grounds that are only open to the President, his family, staff, and security. On the south side you can walk or jog around the Ellipse, and on the north side you can visit the monuments in Lafayette Park. In fact, there are many monuments located throughout the grounds of President’s Park.


The White House is open for tours on Tuesdays through Saturdays starting as early as 7:30 AM. Tickets are required.

The White House Visitor Center is open daily from 7:30 AM to 4 PM, except when closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Martin Luther King Jr. Day. No tickets are needed to enter, but you must go through a standard security check.

The Ellipse Visitor Pavilion is open daily from 7:30 AM to 4 PM. It is closed on most major and government holidays. No security screening is required to enter.

The grounds of the White House are open daily, though areas may be closed for security reasons. Closures are frequent, so check the National Park Service’s Temporary Area Closures web page for President’s Park if your plans include accessing a particular area.

Times can always change, so before making travel plans be sure to check the official President’s Park Operating Hours and Seasons web page for the latest schedules.


There are no fees for any activities at President’s Park. White House Tour tickets are free.


Visitor Center
allow 1-2 hours

White House Tour
allow 1.5 hours

Grounds Tour
allow 1 hour

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Last updated on April 29, 2020
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