We took the one day trolley tour to see the overview in one day. The downfall was we were doing two days in DC so we had too much walking for the second day. The other negitive was we were afraid to get down after 3:00 because the lines to get on the crowded buses were too long.
If you are traveling on a budget to/from DC to/from Boston, New York or Philadelphia look into taking one of the Chinatown buses. It is the cheapest form of transportation i.e., flights; trains or standard Greyhound buses. Plus, given gas prices and tolls it is cheaper than driving. For example one-way from NYC to DC is less than $20.
We were in Washington a few weeks ago (end of april). Because it was just a day trip on our way round the east coast, we decided to take a "hop-on-hop-off" bus tour to see as much we can. Unfortunately we settle for the "city sight seeing" tour with their red double decker buses because there was a brochure in the hotel lobby. We spend more than half of the time waitig for the bus!! The buses of the red line circulates supposedly every half of an hour, but it was more than one hour. Then we decided to take the other offered line: the blue line, which should go to Georgetown. We were waiting for 3 hours! We never saw the blue line even existed!
As you can imagine, we were disappointed and angry, so we planned to complain about their bad service. But the man just got angry and we didn´t obtain our money back.
Conclusion: never use this sight seeing tour when you visit Washington. The personal was unfriendly and the buses always late!
About 4 hours from NYC on the non stop bus it can be a VERY cheap way to arrive here. My last greyhound ticket was $20 one way. The buses are comfortable enough and for the price when on sale you really don't mind.
Of course Greyhound can get you anywhere in the country with enough time. So most are familiar with the idea at the least.
The "Tourmobile" was the mode of choice for part of a day to get around and get a bit of a feel for the Mall area of DC.
My intentions were to use this to access some of the Memorials and Arlington Cemetery.The idea is good in that this "tour" has about fifteen or so stops in and around the Mall area and is narrated with some basic information about the particular stop.One has the ability to get on and off throughout the day so if you want to skip something on the tour you can stay on and get off whenever you like.The stops are well marked with big blue signs..and the vehicles themselves are big blue tandem bus like things,easy to find.
I picked up the Tour at Union Station which is towards the end of the tour but it is cyclical so it doesnt matter where you start or finnish,you always have the ability to see all of the stops that it makes.
Its a bit of a walk to get to the Tidal Basin area where the Memorials to FDR and Jefferson are located and the "Tourmobile" gets you here easily.
Included in the price...one day for $ 25.00 was the "inside" tour of Arlington Cemetery" which has a price of $7.00 if you were to get yourself there on your own and just use it for the Arlington tour.
All in all I thought it was good value for the money that I spent and the wear and tear it saved my ankle [still recovering from a fracture] was priceless!
The grounds of Arlington are HUGE so to have a bit of a drive about was pretty handy.
In general using it to get to the Tidal Basin and Arlington Cemetery in additon to getting a feel for the Mall area was a good idea for me!
since there is no metro service to georgetown the easiest and cheapest way to get there from central washington d.c. is the circulator bus. the circulator yellow line runs from union station to the corner of wisconsin & M streets in central georgetown. the bus leaves every 10 minutes from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM. the bus makes numerious stops along the way. you can download a route map from their website.
Did a day trip via Greyhound. Very reasonable fair. Took around 4 hours there, 4 hours back. Comfort break halfway each trip.
Wish there had been TV on coach but otherwise pleasent trip and very organised
A cheap way for going from Dulles International Airport to the Metro Church Station.
In the 2nd level of the airport's terminal you'll find the Washington Flyer bus counter. The bus leaves about every 30 minutes from the airport to the Metro Church and station and viceversa.
It will cost you about $9 oneway and $16 roundtrip.
This is definitely a recommended option for those travelling to any city between Washington, DC and Boston, MA. The Chinatown bus system is essentially a huge cluster of small companies (Peter Pan, Fung Wah, Lucky Star, among others) that link major cities for very low prices.
Pros: Low prices, about as fast (if not faster) than tran, reasonably comfortable
Cons: Bus "terminals" often located on awkward street corners in the middle of the city, sometimes shady driving
The only bad experience I had on this was coming back to DC from New York City. They made me wait an extra 40 minutes because they said the bus I had already PAID FOR was full. To avoid this, arrive very early and acquaint yourself with where to catch the bus. The only place it's really hectic is in New York.
No, this isn't a special transport for sausage to the numerous Adams Morgan restaurants. Rather, the Link Shuttle is an affordable supplement to Metro Bus and Metro Rail about which I wish I knew upon emerging from Dupont Circle (saving me the healthy walk to The Diner). It only costs 25¢ and it runs from 6am to midnight Sunday through Thursday; 6am to 3am Friday; and 10am to 3am Saturday.
If you must fly into Dulles (my least favorite airport) you will spend about an hour getting to downtown Washington almost no matter how you go, taxi, shuttle or bus. The best deal is on the Metrobus 5A which runs between Dulles and L’Enfant Plaza just south of the Mall at the Smithsonian end. Buses run hourly from around 6:00 a.m. until 10:30 or 11:30 p.m. The cost is $3 each way (as opposed to $50-$60 for a taxi) and the trip takes about an hour. At Dulles you can find it by exiting the baggage claim area just in front of the Traveler’s Aid desk, going to the sidewalk outside and turning left. A little way down you will see a sign at the curb or overhead indicating the Metrobus 5A route. Downtown the bus stop is just outside the L’Enfant Plaza metro stop at the Department of Transportation Building. The bus also makes stops at Rosslyn Station and Tysons West Park Transit Station.
When we were there we made 3 roundtrips from Dulles as our granddaughter was on a different schedule. I figure the bus saved me about $300 over the taxi
The current public bus fare is $1.30 and if you return or change within 2 hours the driver is giving you a "Tranfer Ticket". Please keep the exact fare available, the driver does not give change.
Usually buses are reliable, sometimes there can be a wait though of more than 25min. and at the sudden several busses show up.
I've been walking around the Smithsonian malls for a decade or more now, but a recent addition has been added to the poorly-dressed masses of tourists. Well-dressed tourists on two-wheeled gyroscoped contraptions.
For $65 bucks and a $450 dollar deposit (to insure you don't take that $13k piece of the future home with you), you get a great ride around the monuments. The vast spaces of the National Mall, from Lincoln Memorial, to Jefferson, to the Capital, make what could only be a long walk seem effortless. If you've got some extra cash due to the great Euro conversion, spend it on this.
It's worth it for the children's reaction to your zooming past them on the sidewalk.
There are bizzare boat/car looking amphibian things that leave from the Train Station for a 90 minute tour of the major D.C. monuments. Great for kids, or anyone who has wanted to drive their car into the water, the Ducks are a strange D.C. landmark.
From their website;
"Ducks come from DUKW, a military acronym that designated the vehicle as amphibious military personnel carriers. D Stands for the year it was designated, 1942; U for its amphibious nature; K for its all-wheel drive; and W for its dual rear axles.
DUKW's were created following the attack on Pearl Harbor as a means to transport supplies from ships to areas that did not have port facilities. DUKW's were first used operationally during the invasion of Sicily. Nearly 90% of all supplies came in by DUKW on the vital second and third days of the invasion. D-Day brought a force of 2000 DUKW's to the Normandy coasts. The fleet was an essential element in the strategic surprise of the enemy which assumed the Allies needed a port to make an effective landing. DUKW's are standard 2 1/2 ton GM trucks in a water-tight shell with an added propeller."
The trolley tour recommended by my hotel was the Historic DC Tours company .. this company actually has tours of many historical American cities .. but since I was in DC, this was the tour I took :)
This is one of those hop on, hop off tours - so you can get out and explore more thoroughly, or just stay on and enjoy the ride. The trolley buses are not airconditioned, but if you sit in the back half you have an open air ride to cool you off, and an easier time taking pictures without windows in the way. I enjoyed the commentary along the route from every driver I had during my day on this particular tour. Some drivers were better than others - as is to be expected. The trolleys run about every 30 minutes, so you can take a long time, or a short time at the stop you choose.
The first time I was in DC, I chose to take just buses and the metro - no touring services. So this time I had a vague clue as how to get around, but I thought this would still be fun. I'm glad I did it, for walking can be tiring and taking the trolley tour between distant spots allowed me to see more of the city with and extra benefit of someone telling me what I was seeing along the way :)
There are 3 tours offered: The DC Duck is one of those land/water vehicles which take you on a cruise of the Potomac as part of your day. I chose the more traditional method of the trolley tour - which includes 2 routes. One route takes you along the national mall, union station, and all the other normal DC sights. The other route takes you to Georgetown, the National Cathedral, and more underserved sights that you can't even get to by metro.
One note, if I make it out this way again, I'd do the tour to the Cathedral first so that I can get out and explore this wonderful building ....... I just didn't have the time as I left this part of the ride for the end of the day and just couldn't squeeze that in!