We love to go into DC for any number of reasons: brunch, 4th of July, Cherry Blossoms, you name it! Getting around can be challenging but if you know what mode of transportation to pick it gets a lot easier.
Riding the DC Metro: despite it’s bad rap lately, the metro is usually the easiest way to get around. We like it because you can hop on and off wherever you want to go. Plus we have a lot of parking options at different stops, so we can start at different points depending on our destination. It’s easiest to navigate the metro if you know where you’re going. Some of the names are obvious (Navy Yard-Ballpark) while others are trickier (McPherson Square – aka the stop for the White House). If you look at the website of your destination, most will detail the closest metro station, which helps.
A couple of tips for taking the metro:
-Buy a SmarTrip card. It’s a permanent plastic card vs the paper fare card. It costs $2 but it can be replaced if lost or stolen, and you save $1 per ride. You can also use this card to pay for parking when you leave your parking garage. Plus, it’s much easier to keep track of than the paper fare cards and you can just keep it in your wallet until your next visit.
-You will be charged the most on weekdays during rush hour. This is also the craziest time to metro, so only do it if you have to.
-Stay to the right if you’re standing on an escalator. People are not nice when they’re trying to catch a train, and you will get shoved.
-The train doors are not like elevator doors: they do not sense you are putting your arm in and open back up. They will close on you and it will hurt. So don’t be polite and wait your turn… just get on the train.
-Check the metro’s website for track work on the weekends. Sometimes they shut down whole stations and it’s best to know in advance.
Driving: When is it better to drive and try to find parking? It really depends on a number of factors. The #1 time we drive is on Sundays. Street parking is generally free on Sundays which makes parking close to your destination more feasible. We also drive if we know of a good (free) parking spot that’s close to our destination, like during peak bloom of the Cherry Blossoms. Another reason to drive if we’re short on time and have a destination that’s not close to a metro, like going to a show at the Kennedy Center. Make sure you pay attention to parking signs! You don’t want to get towed or get a ticket.
Other choices: The only other way we’ve gotten into the city was via our bikes. This is a great way to get around in the city and you can even take them on the metro which is great if you’re too tired to bike back to your car (speaking from experience). There is a cool program called Capital Bikeshare that provides bikes to rent all over the city. I think it’s a little expensive because you pay to rent the bike and also pay for mileage. But it’s a good option if you don’t already have a bike and want to ride around.
No matter how you get into the city, you’re bound to have a good time exploring. So explore on!