Some of the signature attractions of Washington, D.C., showed that they
still can awe and inspire the nation when they were prominently featured in a
recent blockbuster film. But adventure-film fans and those who aren't thrilled
by that movie genre will find surprises in the city's best-known
Explore presidential history with a self-guided tour of the White House,
available five days a week.
The White House, Capitol, Supreme Court, and National Archives were all
featured in the popular "National Treasure" movies in recent
years. Now visitors to the city for the APA annual meeting can enjoy their own
up-close views of those and other famous sites and see just how impressive
they are in real life.
Visitors to the highest-profile destination in the city, 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue, N.W., should start by investigating Abigail Adams' habit of hanging
laundry to dry in the East Room, an activity that her ghost is rumored to
still be carrying on. The White House offers self-guided tours from 7:30 a.m.
to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Free tickets for the first-come,
first-served tours are available one month to six months in advance. Visitors
are encouraged to submit their tour requests as early as possible. Tour
information is available 24 hours a day at (202) 456-7041.
Any White House visit is enhanced by a stop at the Visitor Center at 15th
and E streets, N.W., which is open every day from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and has
exhibits on many aspects of the executive mansion, including its architecture,
furnishings, first families, social events, and a 30-minute video about its
About a mile down Pennsylvania Avenue is the U.S. Capitol, which the public
can visit only through guided tours. Intrepid visitors should ask about the
local legend that a cat with glowing eyes haunts the grounds. Tours are
available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Free tour tickets
are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Capitol Guide Service
kiosk located along the curving sidewalk southwest of the Capitol. Ticket
distribution begins at 9 a.m. daily.
The ultimate venue of the third government branch is the U.S. Supreme Court
building, located directly east of the Capitol on First Street, N.E. In
addition to the famous carved front pediment of the building, visitors should
check out the corresponding pediment on the rear of the building, which
features the famous law-givers Moses, Confucius, and Solon. The building is
open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The Supreme Court offers a variety of educational programs. Exhibits, which
are changed periodically, and a theater, where a film on the Supreme Court is
shown, are located on the ground floor. Lectures in the courtroom are
typically given every hour on the half-hour on days that the Court is not in
session, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and concluding at 3:30 p.m.
Visitors normally can witness court sessions; however, the annual meeting
occurs during one of the quieter periods for the Court, since it finishes
hearing oral arguments in late April and does not begin releasing opinions
until mid-May. But they can still revel in the historic grandeur of the
building and pick up a souvenir or two.
Visitors to the National Archives should be sure to stop in the rotunda,
where the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of
Rights are permanently exhibited. The accompanying display describes the
creation of the documents and their impact on the course of history.
Investigate the stacks and vaults of the National Archives through a tour
called the National Archives Experience, which is offered daily without
reservations beginning at 9:45 a.m. However, reservations at least six weeks
before visiting are recommended for individuals or groups who want to make a
self-guided tour of the archives. Reservations for self-guided tours can be
made by e-mail to the visitor services manager at
"The Public Vaults" is an interactive exhibit that allows
visitors to explore the raw material from which history is made, including UFO
reports and declassified secrets from World War II. Other documents visitors
shouldn't miss include the Emancipation Proclamation and Edison's first light