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Free parking near Circulator bus route?

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Detroit, Michigan
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Free parking near Circulator bus route?

I've scanned through 20+ pages of recent postings, and lots of people asking about parking and/or taking the Metro to the National Mall. All of these solutions will cost over $25 per group.

I'm wondering if it is feasible to drive to a shopping mall, or somewhere I can park my car safely/freely and then catch a circulator bus to the tourist sites (National Mall). The cost of a ride is only $1, and a day pass is only $3. So maximum for the 3 of us is only $9 per day.

We (3 people) are visiting DC on June 30 (Monday) and July 1 (Tuesday). I plan to stay at the National Mall until just after it gets dark (~10pm). Our hotel is in Stafford (it was very very cheap!)

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Free parking near Circulator bus route?

Stafford??!! When you see the traffic you will have to navigate you may realize the cost savings were not worth it. In any case, the Circulator buses are only within the city. No free parking on your dates in the city.

Maryland
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for Las Vegas, Washington DC, County Donegal, Western Ireland
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2. Re: Free parking near Circulator bus route?

Ouch! I know people who live in Stafford and commute to DC for work. They get out of bed at 4:00 in the morning to meet up with car or van pools to make it to work by 7:00, and they leave work at 3:30 hoping to make it home in 90 minutes if traffic is OK.

It's really not a viable option for a tourist imo.

Washington DC...
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3. Re: Free parking near Circulator bus route?

here's a thought - you could park at DC USA shopping center in Columbia Heights neighborhood, it's $1 per hour for first 12 hours, then $20 after that. There's a Circulator bus stop nearby that goes down towards the National Mall - the last stop is near the White House which is near the center of the mall. You wouldn't need a pass, just $1 each way. Look at the green line on this map: dccirculator.com/Home/BusRoutesandSchedules/…

Keep in mind that there are no food options on the mall for dinner, and only a few overpriced lunch options - so you'll have to walk north into the downtown DC to get food anyway. But Columbia heights neighborhood has lots of budget-friendly places where you can grab dinner before getting into your car.

here's the link for parking garage: http://www.shopdcusa.com/parking-dcusa.html

Edited: 28 June 2014, 12:10
Detroit, Michigan
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4. Re: Free parking near Circulator bus route?

Thanks Ukie, that was the type of answer I was looking for.

Anyway, I came back from my trip, and here are some quick notes:

I spent 2 full days walking in/around the Mall and didn't see a circulator bus. Maybe I didn't look hard enough. I did see some of the stops...

I drove from Stafford. (we stayed there because of IHG point breakers - equivalent to under $40 per night!) Since there were 3 of us, we can use the HOV lane. On Monday morning at 7am, we avoided all the terrible traffic on the regular I95. Our trip from hotel parking lot to I-street parking took 50 minutes of relatively easy driving. The drive back at 9:30pm was not terrible either, even though HOV lanes were closed. (~1 hour). The next day (Tuesday July 1), we left the hotel at ~9am and our drive into DC was equally uneventful on the HOV lane (the regular lane was still terrible). We got in ~50 minutes.

On Monday (June 30), I was able to get in line outside the Washington Monument at about 8am and got tickets about 1 hour later. All tickets before 12:30pm was gone by the time I got to the ticket window. Bring a hat (shades) and water if you plan to wait in line.

On our second day (tuesday), since we didn't feel like walking anymore, we decided to just drive around and look for parking spots near the places we visited (mostly the museums). I found meter and free street parking near the Smithsonians without too much driving around and waiting...(This is Tuesday in July!). Compared to Toronto, Montreal, NYC, Boston, I felt that finding street parking on DC downtown is not too bad!

I found that even in July, there were enough commercial parking lots within 10 minute walking distance to the Mall for ~$15 (early bird special). There are several websites that can help you with maps of these parking lots relative to Mall, and their rates for the times you want. For future trips, with 3+ people, I would not consider taking public transit or staying in an expensive hotel inside DC. It is very little effort for much money saved.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Free parking near Circulator bus route?

Thank you for the report of your visit. I'm glad it worked out pretty well. Driving an hour to start my day is not what I would call a vacation, but to each his own.

If you look at the Circulator routes you will see a couple cross The Mall but don't help touring The Mall very much.

6. Re: Free parking near Circulator bus route?

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