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Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

NW Ohio
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Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

Our family is going to Washington DC for a day on vacation. We are staying at Days Inn in Alexandria, Va (I-95) the night before. I am not familar with the metro rail or bus or where it is located. Do we just park our car at the metro station? Is there a parking fee? We want to to the DC by foot tour so I have no idea where we would get off on the metro for this. I am from a small town and I have not traveled to a big city like this before. I am planning this "road trip" vacation for my family by myself. We our traveling to 5 states and I want to do all this without the help of my husband:) Thanks for your help!

Washington DC...
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1. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

Here are some questions to help us answer your questions...

Are you just sleeping at this hotel the night before, packing up, checking out, and then going into D.C. for the day before moving on? Or will you be returning to this hotel that night.

How many of you are there? Three kids and you?

I don't think there is Metro access near the hotel where you are, but I don't use public transportation, so I am not the best one to give advice on that. I can tell you though, that yes, you can park your car at Metro, but not all Metro stations have parking. If you look at the system map http://www.wmata.com/metrorail/systemmap.cfm

the stations with parking have a little car. Probably the closest one to where you would be staying is Huntington on the Yellow line (end of the line).

What day of the week you will be going into the city will be a factor. If it is a weekday, GOOD luck finding a parking spot at any Metro rail station. If you want one, you better show up at 6 in the morning or earlier.

Yes, you pay for Parking. Parking attendants no longer take cash-you have to pay with a SmarTrip card, which you purchase for $5, and then put money onto them. Parking at Huntington will run you $4.50.

IMHO, if it were me, I would just drive into town and park in a garage for the day. I do not find D.C. a difficult city to drive in. The downtown area is fairly flat, streets are with a simple grid-pattern-numbered streets going North South, letter streets going East West all away from the Mall/Capitol area. It is not like what you see in the Movies in New York or L.A. area...

If there are four of you, it is going to cost you $34.30 to use Metro for the day, if you are paying regular fares to and from Huntington to Metro Center ($3.10 each way), $5 for a SmarTrip Card, $4.50 for parking...it adds up! A garage would be cheaper!

(And if you pull it off, extra bragging rights with the hubby!)

Ashburn, Virginia
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2. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

DC by Foot tours - so are you doing the More than Monuments tour? The website says that tour meets at the north corner of Constitution and 15th.

Personally, I know of a garage very close by at 15th and F Streets (access is on F Street). There are more than likely others, but this is one that I can comment on. I believe you must let the attendant park your car, and the last time I parked there the rate for the day was $20. That's on the high end for daily parking in DC garages, but still cheaper than Metro for 4 people for the day. Also, during M-F most garages charge one rate for one hour or less, and if you stay over one hour, the rate charged is the daily rate. If you come in after 5 or 6pm (M-F), there may be an evening rate that is typically cheaper. Weekends may also have a different rate.

Driving in DC for the uninitiated can be challenging, but once you get used to it, it is easier than other large cities. Arm yourself with good directions to your tour's street corner and then you can radiate your search for a garage from there. Keep in mind that when you enter the address for directions for that specific corner (Constitution Ave & 15th St NW) that you include the "NW". The city is divided into four quarters where the "number" and "letter" streets repeat, so if you accidentally enter NE, SE, SW for example, you will end up in the wrong place!

And if driving there feels overwhelming, Metro is easy to use and could be worth the money for peace of mind. Maps are posted in every station and online. You can always ask the station manager for help if you need it.

NW Ohio
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3. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

more info:

We are sleeping in our hotel the night before and then checking out and heading into DC for the day. This will be on a Tuesday. My husband and I and our 3 kids ages 17, 15, and 7 will be along. I know this seems crazy but I am trying to make this a one day visit to Washington DC. I hope we can see most of what we want in one day. That is why I thought the DC on foot would be a good choice.

WOW, I didn't realize the cost of the metro for a family. We might just search for a garage to park our car for the day. Driving into DC just seems like a headache with all the traffic:(

Arlington, Virginia
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4. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

When are you going to be here? If it's August, you don't have to worry much about the traffic in D.C. because virtually everyone who works there is on vacation. In fact, I think everyone left early in the week for the Fourth of July weekend because I drove in and around D.C. today and I couldn't believe how little traffic there was!

Washington DC...
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5. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

Plan on having breakfast and heading into DC around 9. You should be fine by then. Coming from the Virgina side is MUCH easier, as the highways dump you right downtown, and you aren't spending a long time driving many city blocks.

If you happen to be coming in August, you will find town even emptier since govt. is out.

Figure out where exactly you need to meet your tour. Give us an address, we will help you find a good garage and then easy driving directions. You CAN do this.

The area around the mall is wide boulevards, and like I said earlier-flat. Plus, no building in DC can be higher than the Washington Monument, so it doesn't have that "City" feel of skyscrapers and canyons.

NW Ohio
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6. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

We are coming Tuesday, July 15th. The address of the tour is the corner of 15th St and Consitution Ave., NW (opposite the mall, next to the Commerce Department. Now all I have to do is find a parking garage close by and I am set! Thanks for all of your help:)

La Plata, Maryland
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7. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

You said "In August virtually everyone who works in D.C. is on vacation". Come on - you know that's an exaggeration. Many are away, but not "virtually all".

8. Re: Need help getting into DC from Alexandria

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