United States Capitol

The United States Capitol building is one of the world's most recognizable architecturally detailed structures. The large domed building has survived through centuries of fires, rebuilding, damage, expansions and restoration projects to remain a symbol of American government. Home to the Senate and the House of Representatives, the Capitol now also includes a spacious underground visitor's center for detailed descriptions about the Capitol's past, present and future.

Parking and public transportation at the U.S. Capitol
The Capitol is located at the far eastern end of the National Mall and doesn't have public parking facilities. Visitors can park at Union Station and then walk to the building. Three subway stations can be found in walking distance to the Capitol: Union Station, Capitol South and Federal Center, SW. The Capitol can also be accessed via tour bus.

When to go to the U.S. Capitol
As one of the world's top attractions, the U.S. Capitol is often filled with tourists. It is recommended that you plan your visit for early on a weekday, shortly after the visitor center opens. You should also plan ahead as tours must be booked in advance and you need to contact your Congressperson for looks at the Senate and House.

Admission to the U.S. Capitol
Admission to the U.S. Capitol visitor center is free, as is a tour of the historic Capitol building. However, tour tickets are required for the Capitol building and reservations are necessary.

Must see/do at the U.S. Capitol
Be sure to contact your representative ahead of time to get a tour of the building itself. Even when under construction, the domed building and architecture are worth a see, including the interior rotunda. Many visitors also enjoy using the tunnel system to get to the Library of Congress, which houses various art exhibits throughout the year. There are also cafeterias serving sandwiches and drinks and located in the Capitol Visitor Center as well as in the Library of Congress and Supreme Court buildings.

Other places to visit near the U.S. Capitol
Although the Capitol is located at the far end of the National Mall, it is actually quite far from the reflecting pool and Washington monument. The closest other activities are the Library of Congress, Smithsonian, the U.S. Botanic Garden and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Insider tips for visitors to the U.S. Capitol
Before visiting the Capitol, make an appointment for a tour in advance, either through the visitor's center or with your Congress person in order to get access to the Capitol building itself, although the center itself is certainly worth a stop. If possible, schedule your trip for a time during the year when your only fellow guests will be local school students, rather than the hordes of tourists from around the world that descend on the city each summer.

Author's bio: Carly Zinderman is a freelance writer from Los Angeles that loves to travel. She has written for many websites on topics including travel, food and drink.