Family Vacations: Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C.
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, D.C.

The buck starts here, and you can watch as bills evolve from large blank sheets of paper into complexly printed wallet-size notes. A fortune rolls off the presses every few minutes. Around $635 million is printed each day ($232 billion per year), mostly for the purpose of replacing worn bills already in circulation, since currency's average shelf life is around two years.

The presses roll 24 hours a day year-round. Tours follow the various steps involved in currency production, from the printing on 23 giant presses to the slicing of the paper into individual bills and the machines that stack and bundle them. You'll learn about the latest steps the Bureau has put in place to thwart counterfeiting and what type of durable paper is used that can withstand thousands of wallets, hands, and ATMs.

At the end of the tour, you can measure your height against imaginary stacks of money and buy uncut sheets of bills in different denominations, as well as packages of shredded cash.

Bureau of Engraving and Printing

Address: 14th St. and C St., SW, Washington, D.C.

Phone: 202/874-2330, 866/874-2330

Hours of Operation: Aug. -- May, 9 a.m. -- 2 p.m., Mon. -- Fri.; May -- Aug., 9 a.m. -- 7 p.m.

Admission: Free

Learn more about family vacations:

  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Washington D.C. City Guide: Learn more about the many things to do and places to visit in Washington, D.C.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.


Laura Sutherland is a widely acknowledged authority on family travel and has published several books on the topic, including Best Family Ski Vacations in North America and Tropical Family Vacations.