There is perhaps no home on Earth that inspires more fascination, awe, and sometimes even ire and befuddlement than the sprawling mansion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, DC. It’s no wonder the White House tour has always been one of the hottest tickets in the nation’s capital. And now, after a prolonged hiatus, it’s about to kick off again.
First lady Melania Trump announced on Tuesday that tours of the White House rooms open to the public would resume on March 7, after a longer-than-usual delay for the transition between administrations. Why the first lady? Because traditionally it is her chief of staff who oversees and organizes the hallowed tours-even if, in this case, she is overseeing the process from 226 miles away, in New York.
The tour pulls in nearly 100,000 tourists each month, and it requires requesting a ticket from your local member of Congress no less than 21 days before the day you plan to visit. So is it worth the hassle?
We’re here to tell you, yes! The White House is a museum unlike any other-one with an amazing amount of historic and flat-out weird stuff to gawk at. But it is a self-guided tour, so let us clue you in to some of the most awesome and surprising things you can expect to see on the new Trumpian version of the tour:
The most patriotic grand piano ever
You can see the exact piano gifted to FDR from Theodore Steinway (of the piano-making Steinways, of course) in the Entrance Hall. It’s made of Honduran mahogany and features hand-painted gold-leaf decorations and carved American eagles for legs. If the national anthem makes you tear up with pride, this world-famous piano is a must-see.
An entire room dedicated to china
No, not the country! Unique flatware and glassware used by nearly every president are preserved and displayed in wooden cases in the China Room. Imagine being able to see the wineglass from which Abraham Lincoln swigged whiskey after he gave the Gettysburg Address. Just kidding-Honest Abe hardly ever drank alcohol! (Or so they say.)
A replica (yes, even the White House has replicas) of the Lansdowne portrait of George Washington hangs in the East Room; the original is housed in the National Portrait Gallery in the Smithsonian. This renowned work was painted in 1796 by Gilbert Stuart and shows 64-year-old Washington renouncing a third presidential term. You might be amazed by how many people like to re-create the pose in front of the painting.
People also like to pose in front of this iconic portrait of JFK painted by Aaron Shikler.
Statues of historic heroes you had no idea existed until you saw (or heard) the musical ‘Hamilton’
One such figure is Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette. Unless you are an American history buff, you probably have no idea who he is. But if you saw the Broadway smash “Hamilton,” you’d know him as “America’s favorite fighting Frenchman” who helped the Revolutionaries win the battle of Yorktown. Actor Daveed Diggs won a Tony Award for playing him.
Plenty of opportunities for mirror selfies
The tour offers plenty of photo ops, but of the nearly dozen rooms you’ll visit, the East Room has the best mirrors for selfies, bar none.
The most exclusive dining room in the United States
Saunter into the room that has hosted foreign dignitaries (Queen Elizabeth II, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former Chinese President Xi Jinping) and celebrities (Mario Batali, Al Roker, Will Ferrell) alike. State dinners have been a part of the presidency since 1847, with most presidents hosting a couple dozen during their administrations. It’s not a stretch to say that the greatest number of powerful people have dined in this room than any other restaurant in the U.S.
A surprise visit by a member of the first family
Former first lady Michelle Obama was known to surprise visitors in a room of the tour-sometimes with the first dogs Bo and Sunny. She and Barack even gave people a surprise greeting on Inauguration Day for Barack’s second term, in 2013. Will notoriously DC-shy Melania follow suit? Stay tuned, White House fans!
If the first lady were standing in the next room, we’d be pretty psyched, too.
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