Day Tour

Gov Works, a Politics Primer (3 Hours)

Context Travel

Washington, DC United States

Valid for Travel Now Through: 30 Mar 2019

Gov Works, a Politics Primer (3 Hours )

Washington, DC United States

Tour Features


  • Culture, History & Arts
  • Sightseeing



Recommended Ages

12 and Above

Activity Level



It’s no accident that the White House and Capitol lay at opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, with the Supreme Court set off to the side. The ever-symbolic urban plan of DC very carefully separates the three branches of the U.S. government. In the course of this 3-hour walk we will join either an American historian or seasoned political journalist for a stroll up Pennsylvania Avenue that uses the city itself as a mechanism for understand the U.S. federal government and the political forces that have shaped it over the last 200 years. We begin at the Willard Hotel, where tradition and political lore holds the term “lobbyist” was coined in the 19th century during the Grant administration. With this Beaux Arts structure as a backdrop and the White House just a block away, we’ll set the stage by looking at the plan of Washington and gaining an understanding of how the city was laid out according to certain political principles. Since this is about as close as one can get to the White House we’ll talk a little about that structure and the security restrictions that surround it. From here we’ll begin our walk up Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol. We’ll make numerous stops along the way at places where American political history has been forged. Our exact itinerary will depend on our docent’s background and expertise, and may include: the Justice Department and FBI buildings where we can discuss the famous battles between Robert Kennedy and Teamster’s boss Jimmy Hoffa; or perhaps we’ll stop in front of the location where Jack Abramoff’s restaurant, Signatures, once stood—ground zero of the biggest lobbying scandal in recent memory; or, perhaps, the Federal Trade Commission, set up during the Progressive Era to protect consumer rights (the beginning of “big government”). We may stop at all of them. As we go along our docent will link anecdote and historical detail together into a comprehensive narrative that provides context to larger questions about the U.S. government and political power in Washington, DC. Our time together will be very interactive, with questions from the group suggesting the course of the conversation. We will detour off the Avenue once or twice. Many docents visit the National Archives, where the nation’s treasures are stored, including an original of the Constitution, which is lowered into a lead-lined vault if the country is ever under attack. Our course will circle the Capitol and nearby Senate buildings, and we’ll spend time dealing with the exterior of the building and its role in government, history, and the inaugural ceremonies of presidents. Participants wishing to take a tour of the Capitol itself can book one of the building’s tours for the conclusion of this walk. We may also stop into the Supreme Court and discuss some of the seminal cases that have been argued here, and demonstrations that have been held on its steps. Nearby we’ll find “Monica Beach,” where TV crews camped during President Clinton’s Lewinsky scandal. Finally we’ll finish at the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, which was founded on Thomas Jefferson’s private collection. With a glimpse of the beautiful central reading room we’ll consider the implied meaning of this library—that knowledge should underpin political decisions—in light of all we’ve learned and discussed. Participants are also able to book the official Library tour at the conclusion of our time together, should they wish to continue on.

About Us

The Context vision is to create an atmosphere—a context, if you will—for curious travelers to engage with local experts; to give them access to places and cultures that might otherwise remain out of sight to the casual visitor; to invite them off the tourist track and into the real life of the people, history, and heritage that make these cultural capitals amazing. With no more than six people, you'll participate in an intimate, hands-on, conversational experience. No Tour Guides - Our docents are first and foremost scholars or specialists, with MAs, Ph.D.s, or other terminal degrees in their fields of study.

Insider Tip

Contact your Virtuoso Travel Advisor for insider knowledge to help enhance your experience.

Terms & Conditions

Context walks can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the walk with an 85% refund. Within 48 hours all reservations are final and cannot be refunded. Walks are held rain or shine with some variations to accommodate the weather. If you are running late for your meeting with our docent, we ask that you call to alert us so that we can relay the message to the docent. No shows are treated as last-minute cancellations and are non-refundable. Cancellations within three business days need to be made by phone to the emergency number provided in your confirmation email. Cancellations within three business days made via email or by calling our U.S. 800 number may not be honored. Other terms and conditions may apply.

The trademarks VIRTUOSO, the Globe Swirl Logo and SPECIALISTS IN THE ART OF TRAVEL are registered trademarks of Virtuoso, Ltd. Virtuoso, Ltd. has a U.S. copyright registration for the Globe Swirl Logo, ©2000. All rights reserved. Virtuoso CST#2069091-50. California CST# 2069091; TA# 808 - Registered Iowa Travel Agency; Washington UBI # 601 554 183. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.

Reviews and Recommendations for Context Travel


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Italy trip

By: Joe C

Reviewed on: 27 Jun 2018

Without question they did a superb job.
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"The Great European Tour"

By: MJ

Reviewed on: 14 Aug 2018

The trip was our first experience with Context and it was amazing!
Travel Advisor:  Donna Peacock
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By: Shari

Reviewed on: 17 Nov 2018

The 6 person maximum of Context tours really made for an intimate learning experience. The docents they get to lead the groups were top notch!
Travel Advisor:  Kelly Millington