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City Guide: Washington DC

So you're thinking of visiting Washington, D.C. for a Sounders match, here’s what you’ll need to know.

GET THERE
Air
Flights to the Washington area (WAS) are often above $350 and in good weather spring/fall, they can reach north of $500 – though they occasionally drop down below $300; watch fares often.Reagan National (DCA) is easily accessible with Alaska flying direct to/from Seattle. The metro is located just a few steps away and you are then into the heart of the District of Columbia. Dulles (IAD) the Silverline for the Metro isn’t complete so if you fly here you’ll have about a $50 taxi trip each way to/from DC. Bus/metro options are possible that take an hour and a half on average.  Dulles airfares tend to be higher on average and it is the busiest of the three the WAS airport but if you fly United a lot then this is probably your airport of choice. Baltimore/Washington International / Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is on the Maryland side and if you time it right there are bus/metro or rail options that take a couple hours to go 30 miles.  It is the main Southwest hub so if you have the time and want to save money this is an option.

Driving
If you’re coming from Seattle don’t plan on driving it.  DC away is one of our longest away trips so if you’re driving you’re probably coming from somewhere along the eastern seaboard.  DC is surrounded by the ring road I-495, known as the Beltway.  The main north south road on the west coast is I-5, on the east coast that’ll be I-95.  From the north you’ll want to take Baltimore Washington Parkway and merge onto I-295 South and get off at the RFK Stadium/East Capitol street exit. From the south side headed north you’ll take I-495 across the Potomac and then switch over to I-295 North and get off at the Benning Rd. exit. The DC Department of Transportation has closed the I-395 RFK exit so that isn’t an option anymore. Some people park & ride from one of the metro stations towards the outside of DC either on the VA or MD side. It might be easier then trying to deal with parking and DC traffic.

GET AROUND
Rental Car
Really not your best bet. Washington, D.C. is a massive city with all the joys and traffic that comes from being the seat of power of the United States of America. If you choose to have a rental car, ECS often has a discount from a major rental car company – check the travel page for the match to see the most up to date information.  You’ll probably have to pay for parking every day as well.

Transit
From DCA just follow the signs out of the airport and walk up to the Metro station. Prices run from $3-$5 a trip during peak hours.  If you’re going to be in town for a couple days your best bet is to buy a SmartTrip Card good for the Metro and busses. $10 gets you the card with $5 available to use, you can reload money as needed.

Taxi
Also a viable alternative, but it will end up running about $10-$20 for most trips but the Cabs are now required to have credit card machines so that’s an improvement.

SEE/DO
As the nation’s capital there are plenty of museums to visit and there are a few places that might be worth checking out.

The Mall
This isn’t a big shopping venue and there’s no Orange Julius but the main stretch in the from the US Capitol building down past the Washington Monument, the WW2 Monument, the reflecting pond, Vietnam Wall, Korean War memorial and the site of Jenny’s reunion with Forest and the Lincoln Monument, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Smithsonian
This is the collection of free museums (you might have to pay for special IMAX movies). Most of them border the mall.  There are the classic Air and Space, Natural History, and the American History Museums.  If you are interested you can check out the numerous art galleries; the National Gallery of Art, Hirshorn, and Freer Gallery. By the way the Smithsonian Zoo is free and located just a few miles north on the metro line at the Woodley Park-Zoo station. If you have a rental car and some free time check out the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport.  It has all the rockets and planes from aviation history.  Entry is free; you may have to pay for parking. A full listing of the museums and details can be found here http://www.si.edu.

Old Town Alexandria
Just south of DC on the metro line is the city of Alexandria, the King Street Metro stop next to the Masonic National Monument.  Whereas most of DC has been built and rebuilt over the years Old Town is turn of the century, as in 1700-1800s.  Old cobblestone roads and quaint little shopping.

Washington Capitals
The local NHL team might have a game during your time in town, check their schedule at http://capitals.nhl.com

Washington Wizards
The local NBA team shares the Verizon center with the Capitals, check their schedule at http://www.nba.com/wizards/

Washington Nationals
The local National League MLB team might have a game during your stay, check their schedule at http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/

EAT/DRINK
DC is a diverse city, it’s best to give a recommendation or two by neighborhood.

H Street & Atlas District / No Metro
Queen Vic – Classic English pub, a little trendy but has a good British beer list http://www.thequeenvicdc.com
Rock N Roll Hotel – Three stories of fun. Bottom floor is the live music venue, middle floor is the dance hall, and the top has a roof top deck.  A bit of a walk but worth the walk to celebrate postgame. http://www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

8th Street & Barracks Row / Metro – Eastern Market
Eastern Market – A mini Pike’s Place with some nice food and crafts, http://www.easternmarket-dc.org
Ted’s Bulletin – Adult Milkshakes, Fun American food, with homemade poptarts, http://tedsbulletincapitolhill.com

U-Street / Metro – U-Street
Ben’s Chili Bowl – Get the classic half smoke hot dog topped with chili and cheese.  Only President Obama and Bill Crosby eat free. Tip, you can bypass the line if you pony up to the bar, http://benschilibowl.com

Verizon Center  & Gallery Place / Chinatown Metro
RFD (Regional Food and Drink) A wall of bottled beer and plenty of additional things on tap http://www.lovethebeer.com

SLEEP
There’s nothing notable in walking distance to the stadium. Choose a hotel near a metro station and you’ll be good to go. Check the travel thread to see where others are staying and book accordingly.

MATCHDAY
Historically we’ve hosted the pregame at a bar on the north side of The Mall for our pregame march across The Mall photo-op.  We follow this up by taking the metro en masse to the Stadium/Armory Metro station on our way to RFK stadium so have your tickets paid for in advance. The stadium is on the far eastern part of DC and there really isn’t anything nearby. Parking can fluctuate at the stadium $10-$20. Note that the stadium is in the middle of a sea of asphalt and although they only fill half of the stadium it takes forever to clear out, plan accordingly with your final bathroom break.

GET HOME
With 3 points.

Want More DC tips?  Check out wikitravel: http://wikitravel.org/en/Washington_dc

Love DC?  Share your travel tips in the comments below!

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