TRANSPORTATION TO D.C.
Washington D.C. is served by three primary airports – Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). Reagan is roughly 20 minutes from downtown, Dulles is about 45 minutes, and Baltimore-Washington is about 1 hour from downtown. From DCA, interns can take the Metro directly into the city. BWI offers a shuttle to the nearest Amtrak station, which interns can then ride into D.C. Travelling from Dulles is a substantial drive.
Amtrak is a convenient way to get into D.C. if you are traveling from the East Coast corridor or enjoy a leisurely trip. Trains come into Union Station, a centrally located and easy to navigate transit hub. Metro trains (Red) depart from Union Station regularly and taxis are readily available to get you to your next destination.
Buses are a low-cost travel option that many younger travelers enjoy. Most buses arrive and depart from Union Station.
TRANSPORTATION WITHIN D.C.
Washington has an incredibly efficient Metro system. The Metrorail system has six color-coded rail lines: Red, Orange, Silver, Blue, Yellow, and Green. You will recognize Metro stations by the black pole with colored stripes and distinctive “M” marking. The layout of the system makes it possible to travel between any two stations with no more than a single transfer. There are plenty of stops, it is not expensive, and it’s usually faster than taking a cab. The best Metro stop for accessing Capitol Hill is Capitol South (Red Line) or Union Station (Blue Line). View Metrorail map here.
The bus system runs throughout the city. To find a stop, look for the red, white, and blue signs. The Circulator specifically runs through Georgetown, downtown, the National Mall, and more. Circulator buses arrive every 10 minutes.
You can purchase individual paper tickets or SmarTrip cards at any station, including unlimited daily or weekly passes. Getting a SmarTrip card is a good idea if you are planning to take the Metrorail or bus a lot. SmarTrip card users get the lowest fares. The card itself is plastic and fits in your wallet just like a credit card. Because Metro calculates fare based on distance, there is no set rate. There are free apps designed to help you find stops, check for delays, and more. Be advised that charges are higher during “peak” fare time. Also, keep in mind that the Metro closes at midnight on weekdays and 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Finally, it is illegal to eat and drink on the metro – and the $50 fine is enforced.
Having a bicycle in Washington is a great alternative to public transport. If you do not want to buy a bike, consider using Capital Bikeshare. For a low fee you can rent a bike, ride it to your destination, and return it to any of their over 300 hundred stations around the city. For more information, go here.
Uber, Lyft, and Hailo are popular options to get around D.C. by car. Taxis are widely available and are easy to flag down in popular areas. It is a good idea to look up a cab company and put their number in your phone if you plan to be out late at night, as you will have a hard time finding an empty cab later in the evening.
Parking can be difficult but is not impossible. Most locals use the Metro to commute, but parking garages are available throughout most of the city. Be advised that parking near the National Mall is extremely limited and quite expensive.
THINGS TO DO AND SEE
- Capital Pride
- D.C. Bike Ride
- Free or Low Cost events in D.C.: Summer
- Independence Day in D.C.
- Memorial Day in D.C.
- Outdoor Activities and Adventures
- Outdoor Movies
- Passport D.C.
- Public Parks and Gardens
- Rooftop Bars and Restaurants
- Running Spots and Trails
- Things to do in the Capitol Region
- Washington Nationals
- Washington Waterfronts
Music, Movie, and Food Festivals
- 17th Street Festival
- AFI Docs
- Capital Fringe Festival
- D.C. Jazz Festival
- Giant National Capital Barbeque Battle
- Outdoor Concerts
- SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival
- Summer Escape at Mount Vernon