Union Station / the Train, Washington D.C.
Union Station is full of ways to get around town, such as trolley, taxi, buses, tours and not to mension trains in and out of town. Inside you'll find some beautiful old woodwork, shops, restaurants and much more. You must visit here and have breakfast or lunch and take a stroll around just to see all the great stores.
40 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
I you are looking to rent a car for your stay here in DC, check Union Staion on the lower lever you will find the car rental agents, there are several for you to choose from. You will find they are located near the rear of the station toward to parking garage not toward the street.
If you hate to wait go to the self serve ticketing area and just get your ticket out of a machine. You can use any magor credit card and be on your way, there was no one in line. So is it complicated or people just don't know about it. Any way it looks easier than standing in line, which I know for a fact can be a long waiting in this station.
"Under barrel-vaulted ceilings & among the vibrations of trains..." David Michaelis
Even though we did not take the train to Washington, we still visited Union Station because of its dynamic architecture. It has a barrel-vaulted concourse that is decorated with 70 pounds of gleaming gold leaf! It has 3 main archways that are modeled on the Arch of Constantine in Rome. It was a great place until about the 1950s when airplane travel became popular & Union Station started to be used less & less. It was looking quite shabby by the 1970s.
Thank goodness it was restored & has become the 2nd most visited tourist attraction in DC!
Over 23 million people pass through this station each year, & 100 trains pass through daily. A $16 million restoration (completed in 1988) added retail, food, & entertainment to make it a great place to welcome those who do come by train.
There are 130 shops, several restaurants, and a 9-screen cinema. Wow!
The Columbus Memorial (the photo) is quite impress as it stands in front of Union Station.
I did not take a photo of Union Station; this is from a post card (sorry).
Washington DC metro system -
Luggage - UGH ! I use the DC metro system every day for work and I see many people STRUGGLE with their luggage and they SOMEHOW manage, they survive (BELIEVE ME). That said here are some pointers -
You will need to purchase a separate ticket for each person in your group, available in ATM-like dispensing machines at each station before you enter the platform. These ATM like machines at the metro are not intuitive at all, but they do work and they accept bills, coins, credit cards, debit cards. You can always seek help from station attendant if needed
At the airport at least, avail of the luggage cart and leave it at the metro station,
Try and limit your self to one large piece per person
Try and avoid rush hour crowded trains ( 7.30 am - 9.00 am and 3.30 - 6.30 pm, not including federal holidays, Saturdays and Sundays)
At the station LOOK for the elevator instead of using the escalator - there is always going to be one, PROBLEM though, sometimes they are not working (welcome to Washington DC metro system)
Do not run after the train - there will be another one after this
If travelling in a group, keep your minors close together
Verify operating hours - avoid early morning departures and late-night arrivals if you are depending on the metro system
P.S. You will do fine !
Metro has a very useful web-site WMATA.COM with trip planner, maps, points of interest, fares, schedules, street details for each stations, etc.
I do love riding trains. So whenever I get the chance I will take the train over other forms of transport in this or any other country.
You can get to Washington on Amtrak from Chicago, NY and Boston, Norfolk, New Orleans, North Carolina and Florida as well as all points connecting in between. The Boston to Washington North East Corridor is not cheap. But other tickets from other places are much more reasonable. Support Amtrak. Take the train. You won't regret it.
Union Station is located near the capitol and also connects to the metro system. So.. take a train to Washington and avoid the traffic jams and parking woes :)
Also.. when your there check out the architecture of this building.. it is fantastic :)
Union Station is not just a train station but also a shopping mall with cafes and restaurants as well. There are two levels of cafes and stores.. including a movie theater.
Hours: m-sat 10am-9pm
The Union Station is where the train comes in to Washington DC. It's also a starting point for tours suchs as The Ducks or the Old Town Trolleys. Buy your tickets right there and start the tour from out front of the station.
Since we planned on taking a tour while our son inlaw worked, we took a taxi from the airport and then got on the Old Town Trolley. Our son inlaw works for the company, so it's convenient to just meet him at the station when he gets out of work and we complete the tour. ;-)
Of course we had to take a look inside the station. It's beautiful!
From their website:
"For over 90 years, Union Station has welcomed people to the most important city in the world. This magnificent building has even played host to 17 Presidents and countless foreign dignitaries. However, what may be most impressive is the fact that Union Station's marble floors echo with the footsteps of over 23.4 million people each year, making it the most visited site in all of Washington, D.C. "
As DC is the Nation's Capitol and is in the most densely populated area of the country, it is thankfully well-serviced by train. Amtrak trains run from DC north to Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York City.
Union Station was built in 1907 and is an example of Beaux-Arts style of architecture. The station is full of ritzy shops and restaurants, reflecting that these Amtrack trains are not a cheap form of transportation and are largely used by business travelers going between these northeastern metropolises for work.
both amtrak and marktrain connects DC with most major towns on the US east coast and it´s a nice way to travel the US in my opinion.
marktrain is quite a lot cheaper than amtrak, but amtrak is better, so it´s kinda up to you what you prefer.
We didn't rent a car when we visited Washington, D.C., and there is no need to, since we were spending all of our time in the city. We took the train from the Baltimore airport to Union Station. From Baltimore Airport, there are 3 train options:
MARC - cheapest, runs M-F only
Amtrak Regional - runs everyday, slightly more expensive than the MARC
Acela Express - runs everyday, most expensive.
We took the MARC on our day of arrival and the Acela Express on the day of our departure. The trains are a very convenient way to get to and from the city. That Acela Express is very nice. Once you reach Union Station, just jump on the subway to your nearest destination.
During our short stay in Washington DC we used the subway to move around the city, once from the Smithsonian Museums station to Pentagon City station to visit Crystal City Shopping Complex and then later back to Mc Pherson Square station only 5 minutes walk from our hotel.
We found the subway system easy to understand, cheap, fast and safe. However we only used the subway during day time.
Union Station is located just a few blocks north of the US Capitol Building on Capitol Street. It was completed in 1908 and, at the time, was the largest building in the US and the largest train station in the world. It has always served as the gateway to Washington DC for all rail passengers. After the rise of airports in the mid 1900s, Union Station saw less use, and the commercial area was closed for several years. Finally in 1988 it was reopened as a modern shopping center in the heart of the city. More than 25 million people visit Union Station annually.
For transportation, Union Station is still DC's main rail hub. Here you can take the high-speed Acela train up the east coast as far as Boston, ride around the city on the metro, catch a Gray Lines Bus, ride the Virginia Railways Express trains south to Virginia, rent a car, or catch a cab. Be careful after dark around Union Station; it is not known to have the best reputation, and the neighboring buildings are favorite overnight spots for area homeless.
Immediately in front of Union Station is the Columbus Fountain, built in 1912 to honor the man credited with discovering America. Just to the west of the station is the National Postal Museum, which shares a building with the Capitol City Brewery, and to the east of the building's front is the Thurgood Marshall Federal Judiciary Building. Towards the Capitol Building, you will also find the Robert Taft Memorial, the Presidents Trees (31 trees planted in 1934 to honor the 31 Presidents), a marker showing where George Washing bough tland and built two houses, and a large fountain over the Senate parking garage.
When I had the opportunity to travel from New York City to Washington DC, options where to use bus, airplane or the train. As trains have allways been a fascination for me, I booked on the Amtrak Penn Express and did not regretted it for one second.
On-line booking and collecting the tickets was very easy.
If you're visiting Washington, coming from the big Northeastern cities, consider going by rail. Amtrak offers excellent service in this region. Washington's main station is Union Station. It's worth seeing just for itself. The building is beautiful, with a wide array of shops, restaurants, and services.
Completed in 1908, it is a fine example of the Beaux-Arts style, designed by Daniel Burnham. When it opened, it was the largest train station in the world. Unfortunately, it underwent some really bad times after World War II and the advent of cheap air travel. But then it was restored, and reopened in 1988. Today, it's one of the most attractive railroad stations anywhere.
In addition to its shopping, eating, and services, Union Station also has special events and exhibits. Check the website for more.