My Photo Tour of the White House

Jul 1, 2015

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This morning, First Lady Michelle Obama announced to the world on Instagram that after four decades, photos are now allowed on White House tours. She posted a video that shows her ripping up a sign that read “No photos or social media allowed.”

I’m happy to say that I had the opportunity to go on the very first White House tour that permitted photography.


I had the chance to go on a tour before the first public group with about 75 reporters and several Instagram celebrities that I follow like misshattansweatengine, cubbygraham, iamgalla and newyorkcity. I even got to see the President take off in Marine One, but that’s not usually part of the tour.


Precious cargo ??????#potus A photo posted by Brian Kelly (@thepointsguy) on


After arriving at the White House, clearing security and going through two different ID checkpoints, we were permitted to take as many photos as we liked — there was even a sign, like the one that was ripped up, encouraging photography. However, video recording or live-streaming through apps like Periscope is still prohibited.

A gift from my White House tour.
A gift from my White House tour.

There were Secret Service agents and historians around, all super friendly, knowledgable and open for questions. Tours are self-guided, so you’re free to roam about the public areas, and it’s up to you to reach out to one of the many staff around and ask questions.


The State Dining Room where the parties happen! Directly below where the #POTUS sleeps #whitehousetour #chic #firstfamily   A photo posted by Brian Kelly (@thepointsguy) on


Most of the White House is fairly traditional still, but in one of the dining rooms, Michelle Obama modernized it a bit with new artwork from artists in Chicago and replaced the rug and table.  How to Take a Tour of Your Own White House tours are open to the public. They’re available 7:30am to 11:30 am Tuesday through Thursday, and 7:30 am to 1:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays. They do, however, need to be arranged in advance. The White House says that tour requests need to be submitted to your member of Congress’s office (Senator or Representative should be fine) at least 21 days in advance, and no more than six months ahead of time. They’re first come, first served, so be sure to reach out as soon as possible.


Quintessential #DC morning view from the Red Room #whitehousetour A photo posted by Brian Kelly (@thepointsguy) on


If you’re not a US citizen, you’ll need to arrange a tour through your country’s embassy in Washington, D.C.  Keep in mind that you’ll need to bring your government-issued identification (passport if you’re a foreign citizen), and that video cameras, bags, tablets and iPads, metal-tipped umbrellas, tripods and selfie sticks are all still prohibited.

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