Travel tips to Washington D.C.

Discussion in 'World Championships' started by losjackal, Jul 11, 2014.

  1. losjackal

    losjackal Technical Administrator

    This was posted on Facebook by a community member, re-posting here with permission...


    With all Nationals in the rearview mirror, players are turning their heads to worlds, which, luckily for me, is in my own backyard. I'm going to try and provide as much useful info as I can for those unfamiliar with the area, but feel free to add as much supplemental info as you like, or correct any areas I may have gotten wrong.

    Worlds is being held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in NE DC. The Convention Center is conveniently located with its own Metrorail station right outside.

    -Option 1: From Reagan National Airport (DCA):
    If you were fortunate enough to find a decent flight combination into this airport, this is likely your best option. Reagan Airport is the only airport of the 3 DC Area airports that is (currently) connected to the Metrorail system, and is also conveniently connected to the same color line as the Convention Center.

    Follow signs with the Metro logo "M" to the station, and take the YELLOW LINE towards Mt. Vernon Square/Fort Totten/Greenbelt (destination will vary depending on the day/time of day, but each of these 3 will get you there. More info on the Metrorail system will follow below.
    There are also taxi and bus options, but they will be considerably more expensive and take much longer (especially if you find yourself mixed up in DC rush hour). I HIGHLY recommend using the Metro if you're not renting a car.
    -Option 2: From Dulles International Airport (IAD):
    Dulles provides a few options, but will not be as convenient and will take considerably longer than if you were to come from Reagan.
    Your best option is likely the 5A Metrobus ( which runs between Dulles, Rosslyn (Arlington), and L'Enfant Plaza (Just south of the National Mall in DC). To ride the bus, you'll need either exact fare in cash ($6), or a SmartTrip card (which can only be purchased at Metrorail stations or online). The machine does NOT give change, and takes each fare individually. If you show up for the bus with 3 kids and just four $20 bills, you're going to have a bad time.

    Take this bus all the way to L'Enfant Plaza, and transfer to the Metrorail. Green or Yellow both work here, just make sure you're heading northbound (again towards Mt Vernon Square/Fort Totten/Greenbelt).
    Another option from Dulles is the new Silver Line metro, the first phase of which is scheduled to open on July 26. The second phase will eventually reach out to Dulles itself, but for now only goes as far as Reston. Once the line opens, there will be an express bus that runs between Dulles and the Silver Line. This is a fantastic option for those flying into Dulles and provides easy access to places like Tysons Corner. (
    There will also be public parking available at the Reston-Wiehle Ave station at the end of the Silver Line, if you rented a car and want to Metro into the city that way.
    Again, taxi options exist here too, but will likely be exponentially more expensive than Metrorail/bus.
    -Option 3: From Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
    Unfortunately, this is the option I am least familiar with. I've only flown out of BWI once, and we drove and parked there, so I'm not as familiar with the public transportation options.
    I've been told there is a Metrobus that runs between BWI and Greenbelt Metro (, so I'd probably start here. Same rules apply as the Dulles Metrobus. Bring exact fare in cash ($6), or a SmarTrip card. From Greenbelt Metro, take the Green Line south a few stops to the convention center.

    Other options include the MARC train, which travels to Union Station in DC, but I believe this is mainly a commuter train, and only runs during AM and PM rush hour. I wouldn't count on this as a reliable method unless you're already familiar with it.
    -Option 4: Driving
    There will obviously be a fair amount of people that just choose to drive, and to those I would highly recommend parking at the closest Metrorail station to your hotel (if you're staying outside the city), and taking the train in. There IS parking at the Convention Center, but from what I can tell, it's extremely pricey (plus, you'll have to deal with the ever-so-fun DC traffic. Don't be fooled, this is NOT Indy. DC drivers can be very aggressive and driving in the city can be very stressful if you're not familiar). There is public parking for a $4-$5 per day fee on weekdays (FREE on weekends) at most outer Metro Stations, whereas you'd be looking at probably $20 per day to park in the city.

    Parking map for the Convention Center can be found here:
    The Convention Center itself has a small food selection (similar to Indy), but if you want some decent options, you won't have to go far. There isn't anything major in the direct vicinity of the Convention Center (save maybe a Subway), but Chinatown has a vast selection, and is only 1 Metro stop away. Don't be intimidated by the "Chinatown" label if you're familiar with things like NYC's Chinatown. It's nothing alike. DC's has been completely commercialized and is mainly just an entertainment district for the Verizon Center now.

    Hop back on the Yellow/Green Line towards Branch Ave/Huntington, and just go 1 stop to Gallery Place. Here you'll find a plethora of food options, ranging from McDonald's and Chipotle to some nice Indian restaurants and Irish pubs. I highly recommend trying a place called "Nando's Peri Peri", if anyone likes spicy chicken. It's amazing.
    There's also a Safeway grocery store 2 blocks to the east of the Convention Center on 5th Street, if you want to simply stock up your hotel room or if you've had enough fast food.
    If you're familiar at all with big city subway systems, none of this should be too new, but be advised, especially during busy times:

    1. Buy a SmarTrip card. Don't even bother with paper fare cards. Metro has jacked up the 1-way price of using paper cards to be almost $1 more each way, and with Smartrip cards only costing $2, there's really no reason not to. I highly recommend ordering one in advance if you plan on using the bus system before you're able to enter a train station.
    2. On escalators: walk on the left, stand on the right. It irritates the locals when tourists clog the escalators by not leaving an open lane. Avoid drama and stay to the right if you plan on standing.
    3. Keep a close eye on all children/belongings. It's a big city, after all.
    4. PRO TIP: When getting on a train, stick to the ends of the platforms. Crowds tend to form at the bottom of the escalators, causing 1 car to be overcrowded while the end cars are empty. Move as far away from other people as you can unless you like standing on trains.
    5. Metrorail doors aren't like elevator doors. If you try to stick your foot out to hold it for a buddy, the door will close on your foot, and you'll probably be in for a bad time.
    Metro home page:
    Metrorail map (Convention Center located at Mt Vernon Square station, Yellow/Green Lines):
    SmarTrip card purchase:

    I'll amend this post as I come up with more info, but this feels like a good place to start. I can also provide tourist advice for anyone that requests it.
    Looking forward to having everyone here for Worlds!.
  2. keniselvis

    keniselvis New Member

    " I highly recommend ordering one in advance if you plan on using the bus system before you're able to enter a train station."

    What does this mean? I'm staying at a place outside of DC that is superclose to the metro.


    Ordered! Done. FYI: Cards are $10 and come with $8 credit.
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2014
  3. You can order a Smart card and have it mailed to you too - it works just on Metro, and let's you get right in and get going. My husband and I did this last month for a day trip and it was super easy.
  4. yoshi1001

    yoshi1001 New Member

    Just a bit more info on the airports-anyone flying directly into DC from overseas will most likely be flying to Dulles-BWI has very few overseas flights, and DCA has a perimeter restriction (with limited exceptions) and no commercial customs facilities. Look it up on Wikipedia if you're curious.
  5. Freze

    Freze New Member

    About the 6$ bus fare from Dulles, does it contain the price of the transfer to the Metrorail as well? If not how much would that be?

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