To take a guided tour of the most iconic political building in the Western world, you’ll need to make arrangements well in advance—by submitting a written request to your senator or state representative at least a month before your visit. The VIP tickets you’ll receive, though, allow you to wander through some of the grandest parts of the 132-room mansion, like the Green, Red, Blue, North, and East rooms (which are hung with imposing portraits, and which often host presidential press conferences). You’ll also see hordes of Secret Service agents murmuring into their walkie-talkies and, if you’re lucky, a bold-faced-name politico striding along the hallways.
Tip: The list of items you’re not allowed to bring into the White House is extensive—and includes purses or shoulder bags of any kind. Leave everything but your wallet, keys, and cell phone at the hotel before your morning tour.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.