New Web Site Boasts Advance Booking for Tours

Posted November 25, 2008 at 3:43pm

One hassle the leadership of the Capitol Visitor Center hopes to alleviate is the drudgery of waiting in line for tickets to tour the Capitol.

A new Web site, VisitTheCapitol.gov, is supposed to make sure of that.

“A component of our Web site is the new online advance reservation system, which allows individuals to book Capitol tours ahead of time, either through the office of their Representative or Senator or on their own,” Terrie Rouse told reporters during a tour of the CVC on Nov. 10.

Before VisitTheCapitol.gov debuted on Nov. 14, visitors could get tickets to guide- or staff-led tours from Congressional offices or by showing up at the Capitol the morning of the tour.

At VisitTheCapitol.gov, tourists who choose to line up a tour through a Member’s office will be directed to a link to that office’s Web site.

Those who want to line up a time with the Capitol Guide Service go through a process that one CVC official said is like buying an airplane ticket online.

Once the visitor has chosen the tour he wants, he confirms it and receives an e-mail with two pages of information, including a list of what is and is not allowed in the Capitol, how to get to the Capitol and a map of the Capitol Hill campus.

Tourists are instructed to arrive 30 minutes in advance to make their way through security in time to be in line at an orientation theater by the time on their ticket.

CVC officials emphasized that visitors should still be able to walk into the CVC and get a tour of the Capitol on the same day. Screens behind the information desks inside the building will display the next available tour times.

Visitors who don’t have Internet access can line up tours through the Office of Visitor Services at 202-266-8000.