Visiting Capitol Hill
Our office hopes to provide you with helpful information and resources as you plan your trip to Washington. Please feel free to contact our Washington office at (202) 224-4944 for assistance. If you would like to receive a Washington Tour Information Packet, please click here: submit tour requests
We recommend that you start planning your visit to Washington early. Tours at many locations fill up quickly, so it is important to reserve tickets and tours as soon as possible. We suggest that families and groups of 10 people or less submit requests at least two months in advance of a visit, and that large organized groups submit requests at least six months before a planned visit. Please note that tours fill up even faster during holiday times and in the spring and summer months. Also, because tour and security information can change frequently and without notice, we recommend you contact each attraction before your trip for the most up-to-date information.
When planning how you will get here and there in the capital, it is important to pay attention to the quadrant at the end of an address. The District of Columbia is divided into four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. All numbered streets run north and south, and lettered streets run east and west. Streets with state names, such as "Tennessee" or "Pennsylvania" are diagonals.
Visiting Capitol Hill
- Directions to Senator Alexander's Office
From Union Station Metro (Red Line):
Exit Union Station and walk across the plaza (Columbus Circle) toward the ring of state flags. Cross the street encircling the plaza and continue south on Delaware Avenue, NE. (You will be heading toward the Capitol.) Continue on Delaware until you reach C Street, NE, and turn left.
As you walk east down C Street, you will pass the Russell Senate Office Building on your right. Continue on C Street and cross First Street. On your right will be the Dirksen Senate Office Building. The most convenient entrance to the public for the Dirksen building is on C Street, NE, between First and Second Streets, NE.
The Dirksen Senate Office Building will be on your right. The senator's office is SD-455, room 455 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building.
- The Russell Building: Delaware entrance on ground level closest to Constitution Avenue
- The Dirksen Building: First Street and C Street corner entrance
- The Hart Building: Second Street entrance
- Passes to the Senate Galleries
We hope you enjoy your visit to Washington, and viewing a session of Congress. The galleries of the Senate and the House of Representatives are open to view whenever either body is in session. The galleries are also open Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 4 PM when the House and Senate are not in session. Passes are always required to visit the galleries. These free passes are available in our office, suite 455 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building. If your party requires more than 20 passes, please call ahead to our office so we can have them ready for you. PLEASE NOTE: Children under the age of six are not permitted in the galleries.Senate Gallery
The line for entry to the Senate Gallery is at the North side of the Capitol. From the Hart building, you can turn left on First Street and walk to the corner of First Street and Constitution Avenue.
Houses of Representatives Gallery
The line for entry to the House of Representatives Gallery is found at the South side of the Capitol.
International Visitors to the Gallery
International visitors are always welcome to view a session of the Senate or House, and should enter through the House of Representatives Gallery line. Capitol Guide Service personnel issue international gallery passes inside the South Screening Facility. Return to Top
- Capitol Tours
Our office is happy to schedule a United States Capitol tour for you, Monday through Saturday. Please go to submit tour requests or call Senator Alexander's office at 202.224.4944.WELCOME TO THE U.S. CAPITOLYour visit to the historic U.S. Capitol begins as you enter the Capitol Visitor Center. With its soaring spaces and skylight views of the Capitol dome, the Visitor Center welcomes you on a journey of discovery. The Capitol is home to the U.S. Congress and its two legislative bodies, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Through films, exhibits, and tours, you will learn about how Congress works, how this magnificent building was built, and how citizens can participate in this extraordinary experiment called representative democracy.LOCATION AND HOURSThe Capitol Visitor Center, the new main entrance to the U.S. Capitol, is located below the East Plaza of the Capitol between Constitution and Independence Avenues.Visitors: The Visitor Center is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Inauguration Day.Official Business: Visitors with official business appointments may enter the Visitor Center as early as 7:15 a.m.GUIDED TOURS OF THE CAPITOLGuided tours of the Capitol begin at the Orientation Theaters on the lower level of the Capitol Visitor Center. “Out of Many, One,” a 13-minute film, illustrates how this country established a new form of government, highlights the vital role that Congress plays in the daily lives of Americans, and introduces you to the building that houses the U.S. Congress.Tours are free, but tour passes are required.Tour hours: 8:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m., Monday – SaturdaySame-Day Passes: A limited number of passes are available each day at the tour kiosks on the East and West Fronts of the Capitol or at the Information Desks in Emancipation Hall on the lower level of the Visitor Center.WATCHING CONGRESS IN SESSIONHours: The Senate and House Galleries are open to visitors whenever either body is in session. In addition, the House Gallery is open 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, when the House is not in session.Passes: Passes are required to enter either gallery at any time. Visitors may obtain gallery passes from the offices of their Senators or Representatives. Gallery passes are available for international visitors at the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level.DINING AND GIFT SHOPSRestaurant (Lower Level): Freshly made soups, salads, specialty entrees, pizza, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages reflect the diverse bounty of America. Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday – Saturday.Gift Shops (Upper Level): A unique selection of merchandise inspired by the Capitol’s art and architectural treasures, fun and educational gifts, books, jewelry, and exciting custom-designed products make excellent souvenirs. Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday.EXHIBITION HALL (LOWER LEVEL)Here you can explore the only exhibition in the country dedicated to telling the story of Congress and the construction of the U.S. Capitol. Exhibit highlights include rarely seen historic documents from the National Archives and the Library of Congress, artifacts from around the country, and an 11-foot-tall touchable model of the Capitol dome. You may also watch the action on the floors of both chambers of Congress at the House and Senate theaters when Congress is in session. Numerous interactive stations allow you to discover more about Congress, its Members, and the Capitol. Hours: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday – Saturday.LIBRARY OF CONGRESS ACCESSVisitors have direct access from the Capitol Visitor Center to the historic Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, one of the nation’s great treasures, via the Library of Congress Tunnel. The entrance to the tunnel is located on the upper level of the Visitor Center near the House Appointment Desk.VISITOR TIPSAll areas of the Visitor Center are smoke free.Strollers and Baby Changing: Strollers are permitted in the Visitor Center and baby-changing stations are available in each family restroom.Public Telephones and ATMs: These are located outside each Gift Shop.Foreign Languages: Visitors may request listening devices for foreign-language versions of the films and the exhibition at the Information Desks.Visitors with Disabilities: Visitors may request wheelchairs from Capitol Visitor Center staff wearing red vests or at one of the Information Desks in Emancipation Hall. Sign-language interpreting for tours is available when booked in advance. Listening devices with audio description of the films and exhibition are available at the Information Desks. All films have open captioning.Service Animals: Service animals are allowed in the Visitor Center and the Capitol.SAFETY AND SECURITYBefore entering the Capitol Visitor Center, all visitors are screened by a magnetometer and all items that are permitted inside the building are screened by an x-ray device. The following items are strictly prohibited:Any bag larger than 14" wide x 13" high x 4" deepAerosol containersAny pointed object (i.e., knitting needles, letter openers, etc. Note: pens and pencils are permitted.)Cans and bottlesElectric stun guns, martial arts weapons or devicesFood or beverages of any kindGuns, replica guns, ammunition, and fireworksKnives of any sizeMace and pepper sprayNon-aerosol spray (prescriptions for medical needs are permitted)Razors and box cuttersThe following are allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center and the Capitol, but not in the Senate and House Galleries:Battery-operated electronic devices (Medical devices are permitted.)CamerasCreams, lotions, or perfumesStrollersVideo recorders or any type of recording deviceRESPECTING CAPITOL ARTDuring your visit, help preserve the Capitol’s statues and other works of art. Enjoy looking at the, but do not touch them – each touch does some damage.IN THE EVENT OF AN EVACUATION AT THE CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER:
- Proceed to the nearest exit – exit up stairs
- All emergency exits at the Visitor Center are located on the Upper Level
- Follow direction of U.S. Capitol Police
- If assistance is needed, seek U.S. Capitol Police help
The Architect of the Capitol is responsible to the United States Congress for the maintenance, operation, development, and preservation of the United States Capitol Complex, which includes the Capitol, the congressional office buildings, the Library of Congress buildings, the Supreme Court building, the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Capitol Power Plant, and other facilities.Return to Top