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Washington D.C. Politics Tour: From the Willard Hotel to Capitol Hill

A crash course in United States government
From US$345 privately
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Tour Details
3 hours
Product Type
  • National Archives
  • Willard Hotel
  • Library of Congress
Photos & Highlights
  • Discover the nation's capitol on our Washington DC City Tour
  • Led by a local historian
Select a date
Tour Description
Interested in the inner workings of the United States government? Learn how US politics works (or not) on this three-hour Washington DC City Tour focusing on the political process and insider intrigue, led by a local historian or journalist. Together, we'll walk down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol, visiting places along the way significant to all three branches of government, including the Senate Buildings and Supreme Court. We may also visit the lead-lined vaults of the National Archives and the Federal Trade Commission, the latter standing as a testament to consumer rights for some and the beginning of “big government” for others. Along the way, our guide will discuss key people, places, and events while considering the ways that Washington’s political, intellectual, and architectural landscapes have evolved over the last 200 years.

Politics Reflected in the Cityscape

Our walk begins with an introduction to Washington in the lobby of the historic Willard Hotel—a DC institution that has hosted personalities like Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Buffalo Bill, and P.T. Barnum, in addition to almost every U.S. President since Franklin Pierce in 1853. With this magnificent Beaux Arts façade as a backdrop (just steps away from the White House), we’ll set the stage for an understanding of Washington by examining maps of the District and considering how Washington’s physical landscape reflects political principles and ideas.

We continue by traveling up Pennsylvania Avenue toward Capitol Hill, discussing landmark architecture along the way like the Old Post Office Tower and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as government agencies like the FBI. We might visit the National Archives to examine “founding” documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, or discuss public demonstrations and landmark court cases on the steps of the Supreme Court. Our crash course in American government then circles the Capitol and nearby Senate buildings, concluding at the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress.

Traveling with younger learners? Check out our Washington DC tour for kids, Context’s introduction to Washington history tailored especially for families.

For more information about Context tours, please visit our FAQs.

Does this tour involve a lot of walking?
Yes, this tour covers a lot of ground in order to include all of the sites.

Will the Library of Congress be included on the tour?
In the case that we are unable to visit the National Archives, then the Library of Congress will be visited instead. Unfortunately we cannot include both due to limited time and the venues operating hours. The National Archives Rotunda and Museum no longer offers timed entry tickets so lines can be lengthy. As such, the interior of the venue will only be included on this tour if lines are short so that wait time doesn't interfere with the rest of the tour.

Book with confidence — see Context's flexible cancellation policy here.

Where You'll Start
41 Reviews (4.86)

Reviews can only be left by Context customers after they have completed a tour. For more information about our reviews, please see our FAQ.

The guide was extremely knowledgeable and also knew exactly what we were interested in after only a few minutes chat. We had a brilliant time.
Mary Jo was fantastic - great level of energy and engagement throughout. Knowledgeable and clear, a great guide! We asked lots of questions and had an exc experience (which included our 12 and 14 year olds). What a wonderful way to round out our visit here. Thank you so much!
Jane was terrific! Upbeat, knowledgeable and really engaged my two sons (14 and 11) the entire three hours - thanks Jane!