Tips for Your Group Trip to the National Gallery of Art

Tips for Your Group Trip to the National Gallery of Art

Featuring free admission and renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Dorothea Lange, the National Gallery of Art is a favored destination for tour groups in D.C. However, because the gallery is located on the National Mall, organizing a visit for a large group requires some advanced preparation.

DCTrails, is here to assist. We have extensive experience providing bus rentals to museums in the National Mall area of Washington, DC, including the National Gallery of Art. 

The National Gallery of Art: A Brief Introduction

The National Gallery comprises two structures, the West and East buildings, along with an outdoor sculpture garden. Together, they house over 150,000 art pieces, including paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, sculptures, and decorative art. Explore the works of Edgar Degas, Horace Pippin, Judith Leyster, and Vincent van Gogh inside, then venture out to admire Mosaic by Marc Chagall and Spider by Louise Bourgeois.

For a self-guided tour, grab a free museum guide available in English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, and an American Sign Language video guide. With your guide in hand, delve into the art of Norman Lewis, Mary Cassatt, and Magdalena Abakanowicz.

Where to Park

Similar to many structures on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art lacks its own parking facility. Consequently, your charter bus will need to drop you off and then find parking on nearby streets, in paid garages, or designated lots.

Refer to the motorcoach map for loading and unloading zones, keeping in mind that most loading zones have a 20-minute time limit. After your group disembarks, your driver can opt for street parking (if your visit is under 2 hours) or choose from the city’s bus parking facilities, such as the Union Station Bus Terminal, Buzzard’s Point, or RFK Stadium. For more details on parking and unloading, consult our guide to visiting the National Mall.

What Are the Dining Options?

If your group needs a respite from art exploration, the National Gallery offers four gift shops where you can find a wide range of items, including art books, painting reproductions, jewelry, bags, and clothing. Additionally, the museum provides five dining options: Pavilion Cafe, Terrace Cafe, Garden Cafe, Cascade Cafe, and Espresso & Gelato Bar.

The four cafes offer light meals and snacks like sandwiches, pastries, and coffee, while the Espresso & Gelato Bar offers a delightful selection of espresso and gelato treats. If your group prefers to bring its own food, you can enjoy a picnic in the Sculpture Garden, though please note that outside food is not allowed inside the East or West buildings.

What Are the Rules and Regulations?

The museum enforces various rules to safeguard both the artwork and fellow visitors. Here are some activities that your group should take note of:


  • Sketching art pieces with a pen or pencil
  • Texting
  • Taking photos with your phone or camera
  • Accompanying service animals

Not Permitted:

  • Smoking
  • Talking on the phone
  • Using tripods or selfie sticks for photos
  • Bringing pets or animals other than service animals

Is the Museum Accessible?

The National Gallery of Art is committed to providing inclusive features to ensure all visitors can fully appreciate the museum. While we’ve highlighted some of these amenities below, for any specific inquiries about accessibility, please feel free to reach out to the museum via phone or email.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing

For visitors who are deaf or hard of hearing, there are tailored options available. Your group can enroll in ‘ASL at the NGA’ tours conducted in American Sign Language, with voice interpretation provided. Alternatively, you can access ASL video tours or written museum guides. In addition, the museum’s auditoriums are equipped with assistive listening devices, and all exhibition films include closed-captioning.

Blind or Low Vision

For visitors who are blind or have low vision, audio tours are available to provide information about the artwork. For those seeking more detailed visual descriptions, there’s the option to join the ‘Picture This’ tour, designed exclusively for visitors in this category and their companions. Additionally, Braille transcripts of the audio tour are provided for guests who are both blind and Deaf or hard of hearing.

Mobility Aids

For visitors with mobility aids, there are accessible features in place. The West Building’s 6th Street entrance and the East Building’s 4th Street entrance have ramps, along with elevators to access the galleries. All public areas of the museum are reachable via ramps or elevators, and they include accessible restrooms. The sculpture garden is also wheelchair accessible. Should you require a wheelchair during your visit, you can request one from a security officer at any entrance, subject to availability on a first-come, first-served basis.

What Do They Offer for Group Tours?

If you’re traveling with a group of 15 or more, you have the option to reserve a one-hour guided tour exclusively for your group. Teachers can also request customized, grade-level-specific tours for their students at no cost. During these tours, docents encourage students to closely examine the art, ask questions, engage with peers, and develop their own interpretations.

There are over 25 school tour options available. Your student group must consist of at least 15 students and 1 chaperone, and you can inform the museum if any of your students have accessibility requirements.

What Are the Security Rules?

You can bring bags, but they will undergo inspection upon entry to the museum. Please note that outside food and beverages are not allowed, so it’s best to leave them in the overhead storage on your charter bus. The only permissible drink is water in a sealed bottle.

For oversized bags or luggage, there’s a checkroom available, although leaving them on your bus rental, along with your snacks, might be more convenient. Having ample space for luggage during your journey is one of the key advantages of bus travel compared to flying!

Rent a Bus to Washington, DC, with DCTrails

When you’re prepared to travel to Washington, DC, with your group, DCTrails is here to arrange your bus rental. Simply contact us and we’ll assist you in securing a charter bus that meets all your requirements.


Ready To Book Your Private Group Or A Charter Bus? Contact DCTrails!

Looking for a reliable and simple way to book a charter bus service? You have come to the right place. Reach out to us with your requirements or queries and we will walk you through the step-by-step process to help you plan the perfect trip to Washington DC.