While I was in D.C. for my DAR trip, I had the opportunity to tour the White House... TWICE! The day before my trip, a hometown friend on assignment to the White House offered up a West Wing tour to my friend and me, and we couldn't say no!
|Standing outside the West Wing door|
Our visit happened the day after the tragic shooting in Orlando, so we were delayed a bit due to the President's press conference. We could not access the White House for a while, and we were not allowed to take the usual photo op and visit the Press Briefing Room, because there were very important things happening in the building, obviously. So we spent some time exploring the Eisenhower Executive Building, next door.
|Eisenhower Executive Office Building|
One of the coolest rooms in the EEOB was the Truman Bowling Alley, located down a seemingly dingy basement hallway. The inside is a pleasant surprise! Super nice. There's another single bowling lane in the basement of the White House residence, but this one is supposed to be the nicer of the two. Staffers can reserve it for parties and things, or to play a quick game during the day.
The EEOB was truly grand. Since we were there on a Sunday, it was super quiet. Very ornate and cool. Doors automatically open as you walk in. So much beautiful decorative elements and architecture, too1
We visited the Indian Treaty Room, where Eisenhower held the first televised presidential press conference. It has been used as a library, and currently is more of a meeting/reception room. It cost more to construct than any other room in the building, and I can see why... so ornate!
We also spent a good deal of time waiting (while the press conference was going on) in what I think were the Secretary of War rooms, another long sequence of ornate rooms that were really unique and special. I took a ton of pics, but I know you're in it for the White House stuff on this post, so I won't post them all here.
Where are the West Wing photos? Well, you can't take any inside! It's super secret-y in there, but you can see everything we saw here. I liked seeing the West Colonnade and Rose Garden glimpses, as well as looking into the Oval Office. It was a lot smaller than I thought it would be (the Oval Office, I mean), but sooooo cool to see! You can't actually go into any of the rooms, but you can be a total looky-loo and geek out over it a bit.
Then, two days later, my friends and I attend our scheduled East Wing White House tour, which is open to the public (with a reservation and background check in advance). It's actually part of the National Parks Service, believe it or not!
The East Wing tour is self-guided, and you get a brochure to help you along. It's so beautiful! You go from room to room at your own pace, and under President Obama last year they starting allowing photographs. Love it! They hold a lot of official events in these rooms, as well as tons of visitors traipsing through.
And some of the room names are quite obvious, LOL. (Blue Room, Red Room, etc.) It was kind of cool knowing how many important people had been in these rooms, on the furniture, and all that. It was kind of cool to see that despite political differences, there are many portraits of Presidents and First Ladies still hanging throughout the White House, regardless of party. So even though the Obamas were in the building when we were visiting, there were still portraits of George W. and Laura Bush hanging, among others. Very classy.
It had been on my list since childhood to go inside the White House, and now I can say I've been in there TWICE! In the same week, seeing completely different sides of the building. It was definitely memorable. Now to figure out what's on my list for next year.
Interested in visiting the White House? PLAN AHEAD. For the public East Wing tour, we worked through our Congressman *six months* in advance. You have to provide key data to them for the security check, including your social security number. Tours can be cancelled on a moment's notice. For the West Wing, you need to get an appointment through a Secret Service or White House staffer that you know, it's much tougher to get.