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FAQ: Which Attractions 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 national monuments and memorials.

You can buy tickets for some of Washington, DC's most popular ticketed attractions including the International Spy Museum and Ford's Theatre at the venue or on their websites. Some attractions offer discounts to those who buy tickets online ahead of their visit including the Newseum and Presidents Gallery by Madame Tussauds Washington, DC.

While some attractions are free, they require timed passes to save visitors from waiting in long lines. To visit the Washington Monument, you can obtain up to six tickets for your preferred time on a first-come, first-served basis from The Washington Monument Lodge on 15th Street. Alternatively, order advance tickets online at nps.gov/wamo or by calling (877) 444-6777 up to three months ahead of your visit. There is a non-refundable service charge of $1.50 when tickets are pre-ordered.

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 ushmm.org 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.

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 can contact their embassy in Washington, DC for assistance submitting a tour request. More information is available at whitehouse.gov.

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