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Touring the White House: The tours are free, but you pay with your feet in long lines. In peak season — now until Sept. 2 — you must first go to the White House Visitor Center, 1450 Pennsylvania Ave., for free same-day tickets on a first-come basis. The line may form as early as 6 a.m. It isn't terribly long when the office opens at 7:30, but by 9 a.m. all of that day's 3,000 to 5,000 tickets are usually gone. If you can plan eight to 10 weeks in advance, contact the office of your U.S. representative or senator to request one of 1,000 free advance tickets distributed for each day's Congressional Guided Tours. These begin 8:15 to 8:45 a.m. Visitor Office: 202-456-7041. For self-guided tours in nonpeak season (Saturday before Labor Day until third Tuesday in March), you should line up no later than 9 a.m. at the Visitors' Entrance on East Executive Avenue, Tuesdays through Saturdays. Gate opens at 10, closes at noon; tour takes 30-40 minutes. Web site: www.whitehouse.gov

The White House Visitor Center: This exhibit hall, handsomely housed in a corner of the Commerce Building at 1450 Pennsylvania Ave., is the next best thing to a visit to the house itself. Included with the lively exhibits is a 30-minute film that includes rare footage of President Truman playing the piano; Jacqueline Kennedy leading a tour; FDR with Fala, his Scottish terrier. 202-208-1631. Web site: www.nps.gov/whho/whvc

The White House Historical Association: Ensconced in an elegant town house on Jackson Place northwest of the White House, facing Lafayette Square, the association helps in the preservation of the house and educating the public about its history. In the gift shop are guidebooks, "The White House: A Historic Guide" and "The Living White House," published by the association and the National Geographic Society, beautiful steals at $5. 202-737-8292. Web site: www.whitehousehistory.org

White House Bicentennial and Special Events:

"The White House in Miniature." A 1/12th-scale model of the White House serves to illustrate the changing design and decoration of the house over 200 years. Through Sept. 17 at National Building Museum, 401 F. St., N.W. 202-272-2448. Web site: www.nbm.org

"Designing for Democracy: Furnishings from the President's House." Select furnishings from the permanent White House collection. Through Aug. 26 at the visitor center. 202-707-5000. Web site: www.loc.gov

"Thomas Jefferson: Genius of Liberty." An exhibit that probes the complexities and vast talents of the third president and re-creates his donated personal library that seeded the Library of Congress (also celebrating its bicentennial). Through Oct. 31 at Library of Congress, 101 Independence Ave. 202-707-5000. Web site: www.loc.gov

"Fall Garden and House Tour." The hours and itinerary of regular White House tours are extended to include Jacqueline Kennedy, Children's and Rose gardens. Military bands entertain on the South Lawn. Oct. 7 (9 a.m.-noon, 2-5 p.m.), Oct. 8 (1-5 p.m.). 202-707-5000. Web site: www.loc.gov