If you’re planning a trip to Washington D.C., a visit to the White House is likely at the top of your list. This iconic building has been the official residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. It’s a symbol of American democracy and history, and a must-see destination for any visitor to the nation’s capital. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of your visit to the National park.
History and Background
The White House has symbolized American democracy and power since 1800. In 1790, Washington D.C. was named the new national capital. Congress met in various cities because Congress had no permanent home.
In 1791, Congress authorized the construction of a presidential residence, and President George Washington chose “President’s Square” for the national park. In 1792, Irish architect James Hoban designed the building.
Hoban modeled the White House after ancient Greek and Roman architecture. The building was made of Virginia sandstone from Aquia Creek and painted white to hide smoke from coal-burning furnaces.
John Adams moved into the national park in 1800. In 1901, President Theodore Roosevelt renamed the “Executive Mansion” the White House.
For each president and their families, the White House has changed and renovated. Due to structural issues, the Truman administration gutted and rebuilt the building. Truman built the West Wing for the president’s offices and moved the Oval Office to it.
The national park has hosted many historic events. President James Monroe rebuilt it after British troops burned it in 1812. After Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on Japan at Gettysburg, where Abraham Lincoln gave his “Gettysburg Address” in 1863.
The White House symbolizes American power and democracy. The official residence of the President of the United States and their family, it attracts tourists from around the world.Bartholdi completed the statue in 1884. The statue was built in France and shipped to the US in 350 pieces. The statue was rebuilt on Liberty Island after arriving in New York Harbor.
Things to Do and See
There are many attractions at the White House in Washington D.C. The national park has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or seeing the President of the United States.
White House Tours
White House tours are popular. The national park offers self-guided and guided tours of the East Wing, State Floor, and historic White House rooms. Tours must be booked in advance through your Member of Congress, and security is tight to protect visitors.
White House Gardens
In addition to the building itself, the White House also boasts beautiful gardens that are open to the public. The South Lawn, for example, is a large grassy area that serves as the site for many presidential ceremonies and events. Visitors can also explore the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, the Rose Garden, and the White House Kitchen Garden, which was created by First Lady Michelle Obama in 2009.
White House Visitor Center
If you’re interested in learning more about the history and architecture of the national park, a visit to the White House Visitor Center is a must. The center features exhibits on the history of the building, as well as interactive displays and artifacts from presidential administrations throughout history. It’s a great way to get an up-close look at the national park and learn about its rich history.
If you’re lucky, you may even get to see the President of the United States in person during your visit to the White House. The President often travels to and from the national park in a motorcade, which is a convoy of vehicles that includes the presidential limousine, known as “The Beast”. It’s a thrilling sight to see, and one that you won’t soon forget.
Located just north of the White House, Lafayette Square is a public park that is often used for protests and demonstrations. It’s also home to several historic statues and monuments, including a statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback.
Wildlife and Natural Environment
While the White House is known primarily for its historic and political significance, it’s also home to a surprising amount of wildlife and natural beauty. Here are some of the highlights:
Lafayette Square Park
Located just north of the national park, Lafayette Square is a 7-acre public park that provides a green oasis in the heart of the city. The park is home to dozens of trees, including several large elm trees that date back to the 19th century. Visitors can also spot a variety of birds in the park, including red-tailed hawks, mourning doves, and chimney swifts.
White House Gardens
The gardens surrounding the national park are also home to a variety of wildlife. The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, for example, is a favorite spot for butterflies and hummingbirds. The White House Kitchen Garden, which was created by First Lady Michelle Obama, is home to a variety of vegetables and herbs, as well as bees and other pollinators.
The National Mall is a large park that runs from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, and it’s home to a variety of wildlife. Visitors can spot ducks and geese swimming in the reflecting pool, as well as a variety of birds in the trees and bushes along the mall.
Rock Creek Park
Located just a few miles north of the White House, Rock Creek Park is a 2,800-acre park that provides a natural oasis in the heart of the city. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and even coyotes. Visitors can explore miles of hiking trails, as well as picnic areas, playgrounds, and other amenities.
Practical Information for Visitors
Visiting the White House is an exciting experience, but it does require some planning ahead. Here are some key pieces of information to keep in mind:
National park tours require advance planning. Your congressman or embassy in Washington D.C. must approve tours. Up to six months in advance, but 21 days is recommended.
The White House is well-guarded. Before entering the building, backpacks, cameras, and food and drink must be screened. Check the full list of prohibited items before visiting to avoid delays.
Outside the building and in the gardens, cameras are allowed during tours of the national park. Lafayette Square Park and the National Mall are also photogenic.
Public transportation makes the White House in downtown Washington D.C. accessible. Metro Center and McPherson Square are the closest Blue, Orange, and Silver line stations.
Other Attractions Nearby
If you’re visiting the White House, there are plenty of other attractions to check out in the surrounding area, including:
- National Mall – a large park that runs from the Capitol Building to the Lincoln Memorial, with many monuments and museums to visit.
- Smithsonian Museums – a collection of 19 museums and galleries that offer free admission to visitors.
- Washington Monument – a 555-foot tall obelisk that offers great views of the city from the top.
- Lincoln Memorial – a national monument honoring the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.
The White House is an incredible symbol of American history and power, but it’s also a fascinating destination for visitors from all over the world. From the stunning architecture to the sprawling gardens and surrounding wildlife, there’s something for everyone to enjoy at this iconic landmark. By following the practical tips and recommendations in our guide, you can make the most of your visit and create unforgettable memories. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to the White House today!
READ MORE HERE: The White House and President’s Park