Library of Congress Engraved Sign

Library of Congress Tour

I love tours! So, when planning our trip to Washington DC, I jumped at the chance to take a Library of Congress tour rather than wandering around on our own.

Front of the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress includes 3 buildings on Capitol Hill: The Thomas Jefferson Building, the James Madison Memorial Building, and the John Adams Building.

The Thomas Jefferson Building is the oldest and the most well known. It is right across the street from the US Capitol. This was the location of our Library of Congress tour.

Front of the Library of Congress Jefferson Building

Getting There

We took the Metro to the Library of Congress from the Metro Center Station to the Capitol South Station. From there, it is a short walk to the Thomas Jefferson Building.

Side note: We stopped for breakfast at Astro Chicken and Donuts. It is near the Metro Center Station and very delicious!!!

Chicken on a donut and chocolate donut
Astro Chicken and Donuts – Can’t beat this breakfast!

With our bellies full of happiness, we made it to the Library of Congress with a little extra time to spare before our tour. This afforded us the opportunity to takes some photos of the building and the view of the Capitol.

View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress.

If you are also visiting the US Capitol, there is a handy tunnel connecting it to the Thomas Jefferson Building.

View of the Washington Monument and Capitol from the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress Tour

We signed up for a free docent led tour of the Jefferson Building through our senator’s office. We entered through the lower door per the tour instructions.

Lower Entry to the Library of Congress

Our Library of Congress tour began with a short video. The video highlighted the history of the LOC, and explained why it is so special. The volume of the Library of Congress contents is mind boggling! Not to mention the historical significance of many of its artifacts! To top it all off…literally… the Jefferson Building is spectacularly ornate.

Movie seating at the Library of CongressWashington DC Library of Congress-8

After the video, we were introduced to our docent. Our knowledgeable docent led us through the building pointing out various points of interest. We heard about the building’s rich history, magnificent artwork, and interesting contents.

How Much Time

One could spend countless hours perusing the Library of Congress. However, we allocated 2 hours for our visit. The docent led Library of Congress tour was about an hour. Afterwards, we stayed for another hour to to visit various exhibits. This worked well for us.

What to Expect

When you visit the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, prepare to be WOW’d! The inside of this building is breathtaking. The walls and ceiling are covered with paintings and sculptures. So, it looks much more like a palace than a library!

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The most recognizable area is the Reading Room – particularly if you’ve seen National Treasure. But, unfortunately, you must have a reader card to enter this area. (So, no… I didn’t get to see the President’s Book of Secrets).

Library of Congress Reading Room

Visitors can view the Reading Room from a glass encased balcony. Time on the balcony was limited to allow everyone a chance for a peek.

The Library of Congress Reading Room Viewing Area

After gawking at the building, be sure to take some time to appreciate its contents. Thomas Jefferson’s library and the Gutenberg Bible were highlights for me.

Gutenberg Bible Page
Gutenberg Bible – Circa 1455
Spine of a Bible from Thomas Jefferson's Library
Bible from Thomas Jefferson’s Library

When you’re planning a trip to Washington DC, be sure to make time to visit the Library of Congress. Whether you take a tour or explore on your own, visiting the LOC is an exceptional experience!

Want more information for your next Washington DC trip? Check out the following:

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