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Everybody loves money. That's what makes the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving a must be stop in Washington DC. It is possible to try reserving tours in advance through your State Senator or Representative, however they can't guarantee a reservation. If the reservation does not work out, free tickets to the Bureau of Printing and Engraving can still be obtained on a first come first serve basis on the morning of the tour. Ticket distribution is limited and they recommend you arrive early for tickets. When we visited in March 2014, there was a short line when we arrived approximately 30 minutes early. When the line wrapped up, there were still plenty of tickets, though not for the first tour of the day. When waiting for day of tickets, be sure you wait in the correct line for the ticketing booth on the side of the building that faces Tidal Basin (Raoul Wallenberg Place) while the museum and tour entrance is on the opposite side of the building (14th Street). If it is cold outside, bring a jacket because the line forms outside.
Before your tour, you can enter their museum. Note that their museum is small (think of one short hallway), but we did take a few pictures. When your tour time is ready,There is a short video outlining the responsibility (printing process, examination process, cutting process) of the Bureau of Printing and Engraving. They tell you there is no recording or photos at any time in the tour. After that, there is a guided tour of their facility with views of actual printing machines and their employees. Coins are not minted at this location. Depending on your tour guide, your experience may vary. However, my tour guide had a serious tone and strictly followed his script. On display were pallets of money with descriptions. All in all, the tour was informative and well worth the wait for the free tickets. After this tour, I'd be interested in seeing how coins are created.
The gift shop was amazing. Along with shredded money gifts, we have the opportunity to purchase uncut bills in their original sheets of various sizes. Of course there is a markup on the face value of the money, but I don't believe this can be purchased anywhere else. In fact, of the museum gift shops in DC, the gift shop at the US Bureau of Printing and Engraving is one we spent the most time.