Many of Washington, DC's major attractions are open to the public and do not require tickets, including the Smithsonian museums, the Smithsonian National Zoo, the National Gallery of Art, and the national monuments and memorials.
Washington, DC's most popular ticketed attractions, the Newseum, Crime Museum, Presidents' Gallery by Madame Tussauds Washington, D.C., U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Ford's Theatre, the Washington Monument (closed for construction) and International Spy Museum, allow visitors to avoid waiting in line by purchasing tickets.
Timed passes are needed for the permanent exhibition at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Passes are free and are distributed daily beginning at 10 a.m. on a first-come, first served basis. Groups of 21 or fewer can reserve tickets for a small service charge of $1. Groups of 21 or more qualify to make a scheduled visit to the museum for the Permanent Exhibition: The Holocaust or the current Special Exhibitions. Group reservations are free and must be submitted using the museum's online reservation system. Requests are processed on a first-come, first-served basis and may be submitted from 24 hours to 12 months in advance of the visit date. It is highly recommended that groups who wish to visit during the spring and summer months complete their reservations well in advance of their visit date due to high demand during that period. Visit ushmm.org or call (202) 488-0400 for additional information.
The Bureau of Printing and Engraving requires tickets for its tours from March through August only; these are only distributed on the day of your visit, beginning at 8 a.m. Lines form early and, during peak season, tickets are often distributed by 9 a.m. Reservations are required for Group Tours (a maximum of 50 people per tour), which take place between 11 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. Complete a Group Reservation Request Form and fax it to (202) 874-6331. The bureau is closed on weekends, federal holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
Tours of the White House are only available by advance arrangement through your member of Congress. You can contact your representative or senator's office up to six months in advance to request a tour. More information is available at whitehouse.gov.
While the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian museums do not require tickets, you may want to check schedules in advance to take advantage of guided interpretive tours, lectures, IMAX movies and other programs.