We set out just after 8.30 this morning with the plan to do a Whitehouse tour. We had seen conflicting information about if we could or could not walk up and do a tour so we decided to go and see for ourselves. So we walked to a nearby stop on the hop on hop off route. We waited around 45 minutes for the bus to turn up. We were told the tours start at 8.30 but alas it was 9. We had two stops on the circuit to get to the Whitehouse. The conductor told us with certainty we could not get in and tour bookings need to be made 3 months ahead. So we changed our plans and took their "Yellow" tour to Georgetown, a historical shopping district on the fringe of the CBD. It was nice enough but didn't compare to old Montreal or Quebec City. If you have been to those places don't other with Georgetown.
We caught the next bus back to town and after a light lunch at the Willard hotel near the Whitehouse we went to the Whitehouse visitors centre. This I recommend. They have a large building full of Whitehouse artifacts and information. We watched a short video which consisted of interviews from former presidents, partners and their children talking about their experiences living there. I learned that there were 2 bowling lanes installed in the basement in the 1940s that were removed about 10 years later when a different President wanted the space for something else, and that Richard Nixon had one new lane installed during his term. I assume it is still there.
After we left Lance & I walked out into the adjacent park for our obligatory photo of the Whitehouse. We then caught the bus back to Union Station and bought some dinner to take with us and eat on the night bus tour. It was an escorted tour rather than a hop on hop off. It was good and our guide, Malaya, was excellent. It was still warm but much more pleasant with a cooler breeze and temperatures in the mid 20s. They dropped us off on the way back about 5 blocks from our apartment. This gave us a shorter walk back to our apartments.
A few final comments about the hop on hop off buses. The staff have been really good. The buses all open top double deckers. The trees and bridges low enough to worry about. Both of us were hit by small low hanging branches. They were small and didn't do damage but it was disconcerting.
Washington DC is a very green city. Lots of trees and open spaces. Very hot this time of year but very cold with snow and ice in the winter.