Visitors to the Washington area are likely to have a hard time picking and choosing what landmarks, museums and other activities if on a limited time schedule.
One tour that is worth making is the U.S. Capitol and Library of Congress if time permits.
Having visited the exterior of the U.S. Capitol a number of times, I'd never really had the opportunity to see the interior as an adult. This past weekend I decided to take this tour.
Opened in Dec. 2008, the Capitol Visitor Center was designed to improve upon security and also provide a place for visitors. Prior to the opening of the center, per my recollection, there would be lines of people outside the building on one of the sidewalks leading up to the Capitol Building. The relatively newly built Visitor's Center eliminates all that and provides a comfortable place for visitors to wait and/or explore exhibits before or after their tour; especially beneficial perhaps during the heat of summer or cold winter.
Prior to the tour, visitors watch a 13-minute film called, "Out of Many, One," that talks about the history of the U.S. government and building of the Capitol. After the film, visitors line up and get their headphones, breaking up into groups; there are numerous tours operating at any given time. The process was very organized and fast moving.
Next we headed into the "Crypt Room", named this because George and Martha Washington were to be buried there, however the family did not want to move their remains from Mount Vernon. The room contains 13 statues representing the original 13 colonies, and the crypt beneath the room remains empty.
Inside of the first room on the tour, the "Crypt Room" (I had a bit of trouble with the lighting in this section of the building).
After leaving this room we headed up another set of stairs, entering the Rotunda and then the National Statuary Hall. The rooms are both exquisitely designed. (For more on the features, purpose and history of these rooms, please see this link and this one).
U.S. Capitol Rotunda, it wasn't long until the room was filled with numerous tour groups. Large portraits representing important moments in history are placed on each wall section in this room, along with several statues.
After the tour of the Capitol, visitors have the opportunity to take an underground tunnel to the Library of Congress. Our tour guide highly recommended taking the time, which we did. Did not have enough time to spend inside as I would have liked, however, glad to have at least gotten the opportunity to see the amazing interior.
The U.S. Capitol Tours can be booked through the office of one's Representative or Senator, online through the Capitol's website, or there are a limited number of tickets offered for walk-in visitors. The tour is free and it is advised visitors arrive 45 minutes prior to the tour. We did this, and actually received an earlier time slot, but during the spring months or other busy times of year, this may be less likely.
To visit the Library of Congress without a Capitol Building tour, more information can be found here.
A highly recommended tour if in the Washington D.C. area.