Bus / Tours, Washington D.C.
This is a great way to get around seeing DC for the first time, just to get the jest of the landscape where everything is and the enormity of the traffic....lol! I say take the metro myself! Yet, I had enjoyed taking this Trolley Tour since it picked us up at our fancy hotel and dropped us off here at the end of a very long day:-) They driver/tour guides were friendly, knowledgeable, courteous, and just dang wonderful. I had the best time hopping on and off the Trolley at your leisure. As long as you have a pass and map to where they can pick you up, you'll do fine. The Trolleys are pretty cool, because during winter the winter flaps coming down on the sides and the heat was blasting. During summer the flaps are up to enjoy the beautiful weather!
Union Station, US Capitol, ESPN Zone, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Chinatown, Spy Museum, Ford's Theatre, Hard Rock Cafe, White House (Photo Stop,) Lincoln, Vietnam, and Korean Memorials, World War II Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Washington Harbour, Georgetown, Embassy Row, Washington National Cathedral, National Zoo, Adam's Morgan, National Aquarium, Ronald Reagan Building, DC Visitor's Center, Washington Monument, Holocaust Museum, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mall Area, National Air and Space Museum and the National Gallery of Art.
Dates Available-Tour Time-Days Available-Ticket Price
Jan 1, 2005 - Mar 31, 2005 8:15 AM SMTWTFS ADULT (USD $28.00)
CHILD 3-11 (USD $14.00)
Apr 1, 2005 - Mar 31, 2006 8:15 AM SMTWTFS ADULT (USD $32.00)
CHILD 3-11 (USD $16.00)
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 are in New York and you want to get to Washington DC, check out charter buses. They are a comfortable, easy, and inexpensive way to get between the two cities. Most people don't really consider them because of the conventional routes such as bus, plane, or train...but take a look and you will be pleasantly surprised. For about $20 one-way or $35 round-trip, you will find yourself at one of these two great cities.
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 offers various tours besides Arlington cemetery
Here is a list of some of their tours:
- American Heritage Tour of Washington, D.C. & Arlington National Cemetery
- George Washington's Mount Vernon: Estate and Gardens Tour
- Frederick Douglass Historic Site
- Washington by Night (Seasonal call for information)
Go to their website for more info and costs...
At Arlington Cemetary.. you have the option of walking.. taking a tram or taking a bus tour. The tram is easy, nice if you have been walking all over the city already haha.. You can get on the tram and take your time at each stop.. if it leaves before your ready, you can just hop on the next tram as it comes by.
It goes to the most popular stops.. John F. Kennedy's gravesite, Tomb of the Unknown soldier and Arlington house.
Cost: Adult $6.00, Child (3-11) $3.00
For $26 for adults & $13 for children, you can start your tour at any one of their stops (17+ stops) and get off at each one or just a couple, then get back on the next trolley; all for the one price. How the Tour Works: The trolleys travel through Washington on a continuous loop. Start the tour at any one of the 17 stops. (we started at Union Station which is the official starting point). Stay on board and get a fascinating narrative and a great overview of the city, until you return to your starting point in about 2 hours - OR hop off the trolley at a few of your favorite sights. Trolleys will roll by at least every 30 minutes. Then reboard and continue on with the tour until you return to your starting point. The earlier you start, the more time you have for visiting attractions, shopping, or dining. Tours begin daily at 9:00 am.
We got off at the Old Post Office and at the War Memorials. Got back to our starting point just in time to meet our son inlaw when he got out of work. Only had to wait 10 minutes for us.
I felt that it was very convenient. We didn't have to worry about parking or finding our way around by car in heavy traffic either. You get the added bonus of a tour guide that knows a lot of history about the area.
If you ever think of going to NY, Philadelphia and Richmond, or if you are planning to come from those places to DC, then the Chinatown buses are a good option.
I took two of them:
- the DC2NY, http://www.dc2ny.com/
Very good and comfortable, it can take passengers from Massachussettss Ave and the 20th, which is closer to most hostels and hotels than Chinatown, and they even provide free WiFi for those who travel with laptops. Picked passengers on time, and arrived to NY on time. It's only a tiny bit more expensive than the others (US$22 per ride compared to the US$20 of others) but it is really worthy.
- Todays (http://www.todaysbus.com/)
This one was good, although some seats had their air conditioning not working properly, so some passengers were freezing and others, like me, felt hot. It departed even earlier than expected (it was already full). The fare is US$20 per ride.
These and other options can be found at http://www.gotobus.com/chinatown
You can also go to other destinations (e.g. Boston) making connection with other Chinatown buses in NY. See http://www.gotobus.com for more info on destinations.
Scheduled buses run by Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) are called metrobuses. The company runs metro system, too and covers Washington DC and adjacent areas of Maryland and Northern Virginia.
METROBUS LINES AND STOPS
The metobus lines are named by 1 or 2-digit number and one letter (5A, 16A, 24P etc.). Metrobus stops are always marked by a sign, like on the picture, taken by Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington.
The route number and destination is displayed above the windshield. A destination sign is also located on the boarding side of the bus. Board the bus using the front door and either show the driver your pass/SmarTrip card or buy a single fare.
HOW TO PAY
When you board the bus you must have a change to buy a metrobus fare unless you have a pass or SmarTrip card. Metrobus drivers do not carry cash.
HOW MUCH TO PAY
There are Regular buses ($1.25) and Express buses ($3.00). Kids up to 4 years old travel free (up to 2 per one adult).
REGIONAL ONE DAY PASS ($3.00)
The pass gives a full day of unlimited rides regionwide on regular Metrobuses and other local buses. On express buses, the pass covers $1.25 of $3.00 fare. Pass expires at 3 am.
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 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!
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!
If you have little time and want to see as much of the city as possible, take the Old Town Trolley tour. You see a lot as you go along, and you can get off at any stop, see a place of your choice, and then get on board another trolley without paying any additional fee (the ticket costs $18 if I remember well, and you can get on and off as many times as you like on one day).
The trolleys come and go every half an hour. Sometimes they are full and you may have to wait for the next one, but then the driver calls the office and they send another trolley within 10-15 min. You may start at any stop, but then tickets are sold only at a few of them - best to start at the Union Station, where you will aso get a free map with this list of trolley stops:
1. Union Station
2. The Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism
3. Old Post Office / American & Natural History Museums
4. Chinatown MCI Center
5. FBI Building / Ford's Theater
6. Freedom Plaza / National Aquarium
7. The White House
8. Lafayette Park / Decatur House
9. National Geographic Society
10. DuPont Circle Neighbourhood
11. Kalorama / Adams Morgan / Zoo
12. National cathedral
14. Lincoln Memorial Complex / Arlington Cemetery
15. Smithsonian West / Holocaust Memorial / Bureau of Engraving & Printing
16. Air & Space Museum
17. U.S. Capitol / Library of Congress
However, trolley route may be subject to change without notice.
I've visited Washington, DC + Arlington, Virginia on foot, by metro + metrobus and I've driven a hired car. It's likely that I would have taken a bus tour if I hadn't hired a car. I have seen buses run by a few companies. Let me say about:
1. Tourmobile Sightseeing - I've seen their buses in Arlington Cemetery and in downtown DC, they run a ticket office in a kiosk put down the Lincoln Memorial; open my next picture to see details - I'd choose Washington and Arlington Cemetery Tour (21 stops in DC + 4 in the Arlington Cemetery) for $20.
2. Gray Line Tours - they are more expensive than Tourmobile Sightseeing (9 hours tour cost $45).
3. Old Town Trolley - I'd choose narrated tour of Washington DC with free reboarding (12 stops) for $28 or DC Ducks Tour across downtown + the Potomac River cruise, all on an road-river vehicle (amphibian) - hmm... it cost $58 for only 90 minutes.
Read opinions of other VT-ers on the above tours here.
After Washington, DC VT-meeting we (my wife, Kathy, Chris and me) came back to our hotel in Arlington first by metro than by metrobus. At our starting metro station in DC (behind the gates) we found a vending machine which gave us free so called transfers - a kind of tickets which entitled us later to pay a discounted metrobus fare of 35c (instead of $1.25), paid to a driver of our bus from Pentagon metro station to Sheraton National hotel.
1. Metrorail-to-Metrobus transfers
Get it at your start metro station (behind the gates) at the vending machine (it's free), one per person. Then show it to a driver of a metrobus to pay 35c (instead of $1.25) on regular Metrobus routes or $1.65 (instead of $3.00) on express routes. Warning: transfers are not valid for stopovers, return trips or within four blocks of where they are issued.
2. Metrobus-to-Metrobus transfers
When you board a bus ask your bus driver for a FREE transfer. This transfer is valid for unlimited Metrobus connections, including round trips, within the two-hour period shown on transfer. In case of traveling first regular route and then express one when you show your transfer you must pay the difference ($1.75) in an express bus.
Note: if you pay with a SmarTrip card (electronic card with a chip), you don't need a paper transfer - it works automatically.