National Portrait Gallery Tours
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The National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC houses an impressive collection of nearly 20,000 works of art, including all of the official portraits of the US presidents and other notable historical figures. The gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institution, has permanent and visiting exhibitions that enrich any visit to the US capital.
The National Portrait Gallery is housed in what was originally the nation’s patent office, which today is a registered historic landmark. Its rooms are lined with portraits of myriad famous faces, from scientists to statesmen and first ladies to film stars. Don’t miss the gallery’s expansive indoor courtyard with lush plants and undulating glass ceiling.
A number of small- and large-group Washington DC tours include visits to the gallery, and hop-on hop-off buses stop in front. The Smithsonian also offers a variety of tours highlighting different aspects of the collection designed to accommodate different time constraints.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The National Portrait Gallery is a must-see for art and history aficionados visiting DC.
- As with all Smithsonian museums, admission is free.
- The Courtyard Café offers casual dining, coffee, and free Wi-Fi.
- The gallery is accessible to wheelchair users. Wheelchairs can be borrowed from the site for no charge.
How to Get There
The National Portrait Gallery is located in Washington DC’s Penn Quarter and is easily reachable by bus, by metro, or on foot. The nearest Metrorail station is Gallery Place–Chinatown, on the red, yellow, and green lines. While many city tours include a visit to the gallery, driving is not advised, as parking in the area is very limited.
When to Get There
The National Portrait Gallery is open from 11:30am to 7pm every day of the year except for Christmas. The gallery offers extensive seasonal and educational events; check the website for details. Washington DC is busiest in summer and can have extreme weather year-round; check the forecast and plan accordingly.
National Portrait Gallery for Kids
The National Portrait Gallery offers a variety of educational events and programs especially for kids and teens. Explore!, located on the gallery’s first floor, is a space designed for children 18 months to 8 years old (children must be accompanied by an adult). The gallery offers story time for young children at 11:45am Tuesday to Sunday, and the Young Portrait Explorers program is geared toward children up to age 5; class size is limited to 25 and you must preregister online to participate. Other activities include Portrait Discovery Kits and Open Studio Fridays.
Address: Washington DC, USA
8 Tours and Activities to Experience National Portrait Gallery
Private and Luxury
Two of Washington’s most iconic museums take up residence in the historical Old Patent Office Building, where history and art collide. Visit the National Portrait Gallery and the American Art Museum on a 2 to 2.5 hour private tour and discover the best of American-made works all under one roof.
Price varies by group size
Take a hop-on hop-off Washington DC trolley tour to explore the nation’s capital at your own pace. The route encompasses the city’s top attractions, including the White House, Lincoln Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery (if option is selected). This is the only tour to take you into the Arlington National Cemetery (if option is selected). Just hop off at any stop when you want to explore, and then hop back on the trolley to continue around the city. When booking, select a silver, gold, or platinum pass, depending upon your interests.
Private and Luxury
Explore two of Washington D.C.’s beloved museums with an art historian on this guided tour. Enjoy a small, personalized experience—the tour will include no more than eight participants—while learning about the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum. Discover the amazing history of the 19th century building where both museums are housed and the amazing works within it.
Price varies by group size
Explore the best of Washington, DC on this narrated, hop-on hop-off trolley tour. Visit more than 100 points of interest among DC’s top attractions—like the White House, the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument, to name just a few. Depending upon your interest, select a silver, gold, or platinum pass, then board at any of the stops and get to know the nation’s capital in customized fashion, with live onboard commentary from a professional tour conductor. A guided moonlight trolley tour to the same landmark locations, illuminated for the evening, is also included.
This hop-on hop-off Washington DC bus tour includes three different loops with live commentary plus a night bus tour and admission to up to five total attractions. Use your 48-hour pass to explore memorials and monuments such as the US Capitol, Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Lincoln Memorial. Choose entry to attractions including the International Spy Museum and Madame Tussauds, or select a full-day bike rental.
Explore the most popular sites in Washington, DC on this hop-on hop-off bus tour. Visit many of the top attractions in the nation’s capital — like the White House, Washington Monument, the National Mall, historic Georgetown, Arlington National Cemetery and more. Select a 1- or 2-day pass, for access to three separate routes and get to know the city in custom fashion, with live and recorded narration.
Experience the history and grandeur of the nation’s capital on a private 3-hour tour. Work with your personal guide and driver to curate the ideal tour incorporating your must-see spots or rely on their local expertise to create a fascinating tour. Go inside the House and Senate Galleries and see where the nation’s laws are debated. See the White House, Supreme Court and much more. This tour is ideal for visitors looking for a personalized experience
Sip a variety of top-notch, international wines or liquors at Central Wines, a classy wine, beer and spirits shop in the lively Penn Quarter District (or take your tastings to go), and then sit back and enjoy your pedicab ride. Your driver-guide pedals you through Chinatown and the Federal Triangle, as well as past key sights such as the National Portrait Gallery, the Friendship Arch and Ford Theatre. This small-group tour is limited to 9 people or fewer.
Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
What's the best way to experience National Portrait Gallery?
The best ways to experience National Portrait Gallery are:
- Smithsonian Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum Guided Tour - Private Tour
- Washington DC Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley + Arlington Nat'l Cemetery, Water Taxi Upgrade
- Smithsonian Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum Tour - 8ppl Max
- Washington DC Super Saver: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley + Monuments by Moonlight Tour
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