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Family at the Freer Gallery of Art on the National Mall - Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC

Which Attractions & Museums in Washington, DC Require Tickets?

Your guide to the attractions in DC that are free and which require tickets.

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 monuments and memorials on the National Mall.


You can buy tickets for some of Washington, DC's most popular ticketed attractions including Ford's Theatre at the venue or on their website. Some attractions offer discounts to those who buy tickets online ahead of their visit including the Presidents Gallery by Madame Tussauds Washington, DC. You can also purchase 24 or 48-hour, hop-on, hop-off bus tour tickets with Big Bus Tours, which will allow you view the wonders of the National Mall at your own convenience.

While some attractions are free, they require timed passes to save visitors from waiting in long lines. Timed passes are available to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and a limited amount of same-day passes are available online the day of your visit. The passes are printed featuring a one-hour time range, within which you may enter the museum.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum also requires timed passes to enter the permanent exhibition from March through August. These are distributed daily beginning at 10 a.m. on a first-come, first-served basis at the museum or online at several months in advance. There are a limited number of same-day passes available online each day beginning at 6 a.m. A small service charge of $1 per ticket is charged for online bookings. You don’t need passes to visit the non-permanent museum exhibitions year-round or for the permanent exhibitions from September through February.


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Admission is free for the Bureau of Printing and Engraving though tickets are required from March through August. These are distributed on the day of your visit, beginning at 8 a.m. until all tours for the day are full. Lines form early and, during peak season, tickets are often distributed by 9 a.m.


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. International visitors who want to visit the White House should contact their embassy in Washington, DC for assistance submitting a tour request. More information is available at

Tickets are also required to tour the U.S. Capitol. You can obtain tickets through your member of Congress or via Some limited same-day tour passes may be available at the public walk-up line in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

While the Library of CongressSupreme Court, National Gallery of Art and 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.

Looking for discounted fun? You can save big on popular things to do with Washington, DC’s best attraction passes. Discover discounted sightseeing tours, museum passes and so much more for one price.

You can also get an exclusive discount and save big on your next Big Bus Tour. Just enter the promotional code VISITDC for the best available deal and start exploring the nation's capital.


Free Things to Do in Washington, DC - Discover free events, museums, tours, attractions and more




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