Know Before You Go: Visiting Washington DC During Election Season

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Every four years beginning in October, Washington DC starts buzzing with the excitement of the US election season. It’s a historic time to visit America’s capital with plenty to see and do—from inauguration-themed tours to fascinating explorations of presidential history. Read on to learn how to make the best of your time in DC during election season.

While it is certainly a busy time of year in DC, that shouldn’t deter you from planning a visit during election season. All the top attractions remain open throughout the month of November and much of December, and in the days leading up to Election Day, candidates and their staffs are generally out on the campaign trail or voting in their home districts, leaving the capital a rather quiet place to watch the results roll in.

If you’re planning to visit on or around Inauguration Day, it’s best to plan ahead and stay flexible. The swearing-in ceremony itself takes place on the steps of the US Capitol building, and while tickets are free, they are highly coveted and difficult to secure, only available via application through local representatives and senators. If you can’t get your hands on tickets, the National Mall serves as a great place to see the action from afar. The ceremony is followed by a parade along Constitution Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue, and 17th Street. If you’d like to watch, plan to arrive early; public entrances along the route open at 6:30am for viewers to stake out a spot.

Inauguration Day is also a federal holiday for employees in the DC area, so expect many businesses to be closed, including some city tour operators. Security will be heightened around DC, and the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station will be closed, so be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to get around.
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