Washington DC, A to Z: Ford’s Theatre Experience

Friday morning we headed out and stood in line for our 10:30 tour of the Ford’s Theatre Experience. When I went online over a week before the start of our vacation, that was the latest time we were able to get tickets that included all four parts of the “Experience”.

What’s included:

  • Ford Theatre Museum – Exhibits about Washington DC from the time of Lincoln’s arrival until his assassination.
  • Ford Theatre –  Either a talk by a Park Ranger, a two person play or a self guided walk through at the place Lincoln was assassinated. Since the theatre is a “working theater” another option to see it is to attend a play.
  • Petersen House -The house across the street where Lincoln was taken after he was shot and died.
  • Center for Education and Leadership – Four public floors of exhibits and films divided into the Aftermath Gallery, the Legacy Gallery, and the Leadership Gallery.

My review:

Both the Museum and Center have very interesting historical artifacts and extensive exhibits. I found both places fascinating.  Although there was a Park Ranger answering questions, our visit to the Theatre was technically a self guided walk through. I’m not sure it was referred to it as a walk through. We weren’t allowed anywhere but the balcony and lobby. From reviews I’ve read online, that isn’t always the case. The Petersen House is very small and crowded. If you are short and the people ahead of you are tall you won’t be able to see much. The furniture in the house is “of that time period” but not from that house. The bed that Lincoln died in is on display at the Chicago Historical Society in Chicago, IL.

The inside of Ford’s Theatre
The Presidential Box
34 foot tower of books about Abraham Lincoln at the
Center for Education  and Leadership

An  virtual tour of all four sections of the Experience is available here.

***** Tips for visiting the Ford’s Theatre Experience ****

Planning a visit to Ford’s Theatre Experience  can be confusing. The website lists 4 attractions that a visit  “may include” and emphasizes that not all parts of the “experience” are available at all times. In order to be sure that you see what you want to see you have to plan ahead and pay fees to Ticketmaster. Tickets  sell out.

  • The online calendar lists what parts of the experience are included with tickets for each time slot
  • Ticketmaster shows the times when tickets are still available for purchase. The total cost*  is $5.00 per person or at  $11.00 per person with an audio tour.

*A limited number of day-of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Box Office beginning at 8:30 a.m for a $2 restoration fee per person.

This information is given online for planning a visit

We recommend allotting the following amount of time:
  • Ford’s Theatre Museum: 30-45 minutes
  • Ford’s Theatre: 30 minutes
  • Petersen House: 15 minutes
  • Center for Education and Leadership: 45 minutes

Final entry into the museum is at 4:00 p.m. Final entry into the theatre is at 4:30 p.m. Final entry with a daytime visit or performance ticket into the Petersen House and Center exhibits is at 5:00 p.m. 


4 thoughts on “Washington DC, A to Z: Ford’s Theatre Experience

  1. The explosion of virtual tours and pictures on the Internet is really helpful. I'm much better with finding and organizing information than I am with writing long descriptions.


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