If you’re coming to D.C. for the first time, you might wonder about transportation options. Here are a couple of ideas:
Capital Bikeshare — this is a great way to travel around the city by bike. You can rent a bike on the street and return it at a drop off location near your destination. This program has become very popular. Riding in D.C. is not as dangerous as riding in cities such as New York, but you should bring a helmet. Incidentally, the metro buses are equipped with easy-to-use bike racks, so you can put a bike on the front and go. Bikes are allowed on the metro during off-peak hours.
ZipCar – rent a car by the hour or by the day at locations across the city.
Metro system — D.C. has a good metro system. It is fairly reliable, but delays are not unusual so make sure to give yourself a little extra time just in case. The evening rush hour starts around 4:30 pm and the museums close at 5 pm so it’s better to wait until after 6 pm because the combination of office workers and tourists can create over crowding. Also, elevator and escalator outages are very common, so if walking up the stairs is a problem, pay attention to the announcements or check the metro website when planning your trip. Metro stations have bike racks. If you stay in Northern Virginia, there’s a bike path that parallels Route 66 and takes you right into D.C. There may be similar bike paths in Maryland that I don’t know about. (Living in Virgina, Maryland is like a foreign country, LOL).
Airports — for domestic flights, Reagan National airport is the most convenient because it’s in Alexandria, VA and the metro stops at the airport. It’s a 15 minute ride on the blue line to downtown D.C. For international flights, Washington Dulles airport in Herndon, VA is a nice airport. The metro doesn’t go out to the airport, but there is a shuttle bus to the West Falls Church metro station. (There might be more shuttle bus options that I don’t know about.) The airport has both domestic and international flights. It’s about 30 minutes from downtown D.C. depending on traffic. Baltimore Washington International airport is the farthest from D.C., but the airfares tend to be less expensive. Metro Bus offers express bus service from BWI to the Greenbelt Metro station. There are shuttle bus services, taxis, and some rail options. BWI might make more sense if you plan on staying in Maryland.
Official Washington D.C. Tourism Board — information about events in D.C. and resources for visitors.
Fairfax Connector Bus — Fairfax County in Northern Virginia has an extensive bus system. Buses run on time and are comfortable. Arlington county (closer into D.C.) also has a bus system to connect neighborhoods to metro rail.
For more information about staying in Northern Virginia, please see the blog post: kalachakra-2011-insider-tips-for-staying-in-northern-virginia
Hope this helps you plan your trip! If you have travel tips to share, please feel free to add them.