Is a car useful in Washington DC?
Replies: 41 - Last Post: Mar 6, 2013 6:45 AM Last Post By: Fudgy_the_Whale
Feb 15, 2013 3:52 AM
Is a car useful in Washington DC?Hi All,
My family (me,wife, two teens, one precocious seven year old) will be taking a trip to DC for five days. Frustrated with the lack of economical tickets by train, we will be driving the minivan from Massachusetts. We will be staying with friends on the outskirts of the city, where parking is limited. Will we be better off leaving the vehicle at a parking facility and using the Metro? Are there decent parking options near the sites (Museum of American History, the zoo, MLK statue, Lincoln Memorial)?
Sidebar question: Has anyone found a way to take Amtrak for less than meggy-bucks? We thought of the new bus companies, but think it would be too much for our group...
Thanks for any comments
Feb 15, 2013 4:28 AM
Parking gets worse the closer you get to the Mall. The spots close to the Mall are also generally limited (2 hour zones, handicap,bus parking, etc.), and that's assuming you can even get one.
Something else to consider in your transport costs: tolls.
Unless it's changed, you'll pay about $11 just between DC and the NJ border heading north, and $6 heading south. That's not including any tolls in NJ, or around NYC, or farther north, which vary depending on which roads you take.
Also, possible parking fees at your hotel.
Feb 15, 2013 4:28 AM
Feb 15, 2013 9:21 AM
3Agreed: No parking downtown near the places where you want to go, The "Chinatown" buses have gone up in quality and are the most reasonable way to make the trip. I am a Rail Fan of the Second Degree, but I took the bus DC-NY-DC and it was just fine. They made a stop halfway for snacks and toilet use, even though there was a toilet on the bus. It would be a tense vacation for whoever drives the rental van you suggest. Some Metro stations have parking areas, and it is easier to find parking places in the outer residential areas.
Feb 15, 2013 9:37 AM
Feb 15, 2013 9:40 AM
Feb 15, 2013 9:42 AM
Feb 15, 2013 12:04 PM
Feb 15, 2013 2:40 PM
Feb 15, 2013 3:51 PM
Feb 15, 2013 4:26 PM
10Thanks for all the replies. I will consider getting bus tickets. Not looking forward to the drive, though the cost in our own vehicle including tolls is quite a bit less...the minivan/sedan debate can rage vis a vis carbon footprint, but for about 6 mpg less, the extra legroom and row of seats in the minivan will keep the peace with our disparate needs.
It is the first trip to the capital in over ten years (7yr-old wants to comment that it's her first time, very excited!) so any other readers, please offer tips sil vous plait?
Feb 15, 2013 5:38 PM
11Amtrak occasionally has discounts. Google Amtrak discount codes. However, it is about 9 hours from Boston to DC and I believe the same from Western Mass, so nothing wrong w/driving.
Assume you are going during Spring Break. If the weather is nice, walking around is a pretty enjoyable activity. Go see all the new monuments. The Smithsonian Museums easily take up 2 to 3 days. Haven't been to the Spy Museum but it gets raves. Also, the area around the new arena has lots going on.
The Metro is super easy and a cab is really only worthwhile in bad weather or if you're dealing with a cranky group.
Feb 15, 2013 6:55 PM
Feb 15, 2013 7:16 PM
13Off the road/Off the wall in DC:
At Pentagon City the Drug Enforcement Agnecy has a museum right near the Metro stop. It tells the story of drug abuse starting during the Civil War, and has stuff used to sumggle drugs,and other stuff, some in really bad taste, confiscated from drug busts.
Natinal Medical Museum: All kinds of medical stuff, to incude the bullet that killed Abraham Lincoln,.
NEWSEUM, a museum of news, located on Pennsylvania Avenue across from the National Gallery of Art.
Feb 15, 2013 10:42 PM
14Here's my tip, OP, and please take it as seriously as it's offered, and from someone wno actually lived there are spent a big chunk of his workdays on Capitol Hill.
Forget about anything "off the beaten track." You're going there with a young child who has never been on the beaten track, which means all the stuff on the Mall, from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, and everything in between. This means the Capitol building, the National Gallery of Art, the Air & Space Museum, the Smithsonian Castle, the American History museum, the White House, the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, the National Archives, the gallery overlooking the reading room at the Library of Congress., and just strolling the Mall.
When I was transferred to D.C. in 1985, I was lucky to have a boss who had worked there and knew how amazing it all was. She gave me a week of paid vacation to see everything. After seven days, I still hadn't done it all. There are times when the "typical tourist track" is the right track, and this is one of those times. So take your young daughter and show her the nation's capital, which means going to the Mall and spending time in those places.
Please trust me: This is the thing to do. You will never regret it, and more importantly, neither will your daughter. Don't even think of getting cute with "offbeat" stuff until you've seen all the "onbeat" stuff. Honest.
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