Navigating the US: Getting Around in Washington, DC
One of the best-known cities in the US, Washington, DC is popular with tourists from across the globe. From its myriad of memorials to various presidents and wars, to the White House and Capitol Square, Washington, DC is teeming with tourists, government officials, and businesspeople enjoying all this diverse city has to offer. When planning your trip to Washington, make sure you take the following transportation advice into account.
Recommended Modes of Transportation
By far the easiest way of navigating the capital city is the Metro. DC’s subway consists of six lines marked with different colors (red, orange, silver, blue, yellow, and green) that will take you to popular destinations like Arlington Cemetery, the Smithsonian, Capitol Hill, and the National Archives. The Metro offers a reliable and affordable way to traverse the city, but you can also get around quite easily using the bus system, which will take you to places currently inaccessible by subway, such as Georgetown.
Major Highways and Roadways to Know
As the capital of the United States, it’s not surprising that many major roadways lead to and from Washington, DC. There are multiple interstate highways surrounding the city, including I-95 and I-66. DC’s main beltway is I-495, which connects all major roads to the city. Additionally, I-270 connects I-70 to the beltway, allowing easy access from Pennsylvania and the Midwest.
Alternative Ways of Seeing the City
While the Metro is a fine way of seeing the city, it doesn’t afford you the luxury of travelling through the city at ground level. If you want to do some sightseeing on the move, consider joining a Segway tour, hopping on a trolley or sightseeing bus, or even enjoying a river cruise on the Potomac. Additionally, if you’re a runner, the capital offers running tours of areas such as the White House and monuments, Chinatown, Georgetown, Capitol Hill, and U Street. And, of course, you can always rent a bike and see the city on two wheels.
Best Places to Park
As with most major cities, you can expect to pay a pretty penny for parking in Washington, DC. If you’re planning to drive to tourist destinations, it’s a good idea to reserve parking ahead of time using an app like SpotHero or Parking Panda. If you’re lucky enough to come across a metered parking spot, you can pay by phone rather than wrestling with quarters and dimes. DC also offers a plethora of parking garages, which can be found in handy map form at BestParking.com.
Airports and Car Rentals
Washington, DC is home to two major airports: Dulles International Airport, and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. If you want to enjoy a spectacular view of the city from above, make sure you book your tickets to Ronald Reagan, which is located just across the Potomac River in Arlington, Virginia. Flights in and out of Reagan often award passengers with stunning scenery as the planes take off or land. Dulles is a little farther—26 miles, to be precise, located in Dulles, Virginia. Despite its distance from the capital, Dulles still offers plenty of ways to get into the city.
If you want to rent a vehicle for the duration of your stay, both airports offer car rental from all major agencies.
Hotels and Attractions
If you plan on hitting all the major tourist attractions, such as the White House, National Mall, Capitol Hill, Arlington Cemetery, and the Smithsonian, it’s best to book a hotel in the downtown or Foggy Bottom areas. There are numerous offerings, from affordable chains like the Holiday Inn to upscale boutique hotels like the Hay Adams. Alternatively, check out hotels near neighborhoods like U Street and Dupont Circle if you want to be close to restaurants and bars while still being able to hop on the Metro for easy access into the city.