Plan a Visit

Watch this short student orientation video before you visit the U.S. Capitol.
Watch this short student orientation video before you visit the U.S. Capitol.

The United States Capitol is a monument, a working office building, and one of the most recognizable symbols of representative democracy in the world. Visitors are welcome to enter the building through the Capitol Visitor Center, located underground on the east side of the Capitol. You can begin your Capitol experience at the Visitor Center by visiting the Exhibition Hall, perusing our Gift Shops or dining in our Restaurant. Please review the U.S. Capitol prohibited items list before your visit.

Directions to the U.S. CapitolThe Capitol Visitor Center, the new main entrance to the U.S. Capitol, is located beneath the East Front plaza of the U.S. Capitol at First Street and East Capitol Street. Getting to the Capitol »

Hours of Operations of the U.S. CapitolHours — The Capitol Visitor Center is open to visitors from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday except for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and on Inauguration Day.

Official Business HoursOfficial Business — Visitors with official business appointments may enter the Visitor Center as early as 7:15 a.m.

Admission and Pass to tour the U.S. CapitolAdmission and Passes — Admission to the Capitol Visitor Center is free. However, passes are required for tours of the historic Capitol and may be needed for other special events. All visitors to the Capitol are required to go through security screening.

Group TourTours — Tours of the U.S. Capitol need to be scheduled in advance through the Advance Reservation System or through the office of one of your Senators or your Representative. Book a Tour »

Gift ShopsGift Shops—The Gift Shops are on the upper level and are open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The Gift Shops feature 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 unavailable anywhere else.

RestaurantRestaurant —The Restaurant is on the lower level and is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Freshly made soups, salads, specialty entrées, pizzas, sandwiches, desserts, and beverages will reflect the diverse bounty of America and are available for purchase at the Restaurant. Click here to view the Restaurant menu. Meal vouchers may be reserved ahead of time for groups of 25 or more. Click here for more information.

AccessibilityVisitors with Disabilities — The Capitol Visitor Center is fully accessible to people with disabilities. Listening devices with audio description of the films and exhibition are available at the Information Desks. All films have open captioning. In addition, there are a variety of other services for visitors with disabilities, including adaptive tours of the Capitol, wheelchairs, and sign-language interpreting services for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. More Information on Accessibility »

Frequently Asked QuestionsFrequently Asked Questions (FAQ) —A collection of additional questions and answers is available on the Frequently Asked Questions Page. View the Frequently Asked Questions »

Visiting the Galleries of the Senate and House of Representatives Chambers

House and Senate GalleriesIcon - Symbol - ClockHours and Passes — The Senate and House galleries are open to visitors whenever either legislative body is in session, however the galleries are not included as part of the U.S. Capitol tour. Passes are required to enter either gallery at any time. Visitors may obtain gallery passes from the offices of their Senators or Representative. International visitors may inquire about gallery passes at the House and Senate Appointment Desks on the upper level of the Capitol Visitor Center.

When the House of Representatives is not in session, visitors with passes are admitted to the Gallery from 9 a.m. to no later than 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. The last entry into the Gallery may be earlier than 4:15 p.m. based on demand. Visitors are advised to arrive prior to 4 p.m. for the best opportunity to view the Gallery. The House Gallery is closed on holidays and is subject to unplanned, temporary closures when the House is out of session.

The Senate gallery is open during scheduled recesses of one week or more, and visitors are admitted to the gallery from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Senate gallery is closed on weekends and holidays (unless the Senate is in session), and during any recess or adjournment of less than one week. For information on whether the Senate gallery is open, please call 202.224.0057.

Entry to the House and Senate Galleries is through the Capitol Visitor Center on the upper level.

Visitor Tips

Icon - Symbol - No SmokingSmoking — All areas of the Visitor Center are smoke free.

Icon Symbol Baby ChangingIcon of a StrollerStrollers and Baby Changing — Strollers are permitted in the Capitol Visitor Center and baby changing stations are available in each family restroom.

Icon of an ATM Slot Dispensing MoneyIcon of a Phone HandsetPublic telephones and ATM machines — Pay phones and ATM's are located outside each Gift Shop.

Icon of an EarForeign Languages — Visitors may request listening devices for foreign-language versions of the films and the exhibition at the Information Desks.

Service Animals — Service animals are allowed in the Capitol Visitor Center and the Capitol.

Capitol Etiquette Information — To ensure that everyone has an enjoyable visit to the Capitol, we ask that all visitors adhere to the Capitol Etiquette guidelines.