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Union Station Tips (25)

See a Movie

Maybe you don't have time for a movie but if you did, you can see it here at Union Station. Lots of places to choose from to have a bite to eat and shop til you drop because there are many retail stores here. And, if you need to catch a train, you actually can.

Located on the lower level.

GracesTrips's Profile Photo
Oct 14, 2014

Washington's main train station, and so much more!

Union Station is one of the country's busiest train stations, so I guess it fits that Amtrak's HQs should be located there. The station was built at the beginning of the 20th century (the first train came in on October 27, 1907) and, at the time, it was the world's biggest train station. After the Second World War, train travel was gradually replaced with air travel, and the station began a period of steady decline. Eventually, it was found that the beautiful Beaux Arts building was in such disrepair that the station had to be shut down. During the restoration work that ensued, the main train concourse was transformed and the station reopened in 1988. While it still operates as a train station, what makes it one of the city's top attractions today are its gracefully preserved architecture, along with its numerous restaurants and specialty shops, which we hadn't planned on spending much time in, but we simply couldn't resist making a few purchases at Godiva's!.

Jefie's Profile Photo
Oct 01, 2014

Fantastic Architecture, and a Great Meal!

Union Station is a masterpiece of architecture and it has been restored to its original magnificence. Not only is it worth a visit to admire the building itself, but there are many stores to browse in and a very extensive food court on the lower level. There is even a movie theater, if you're so inclined.

TexasDave's Profile Photo
Jul 14, 2014

Union Station

If you don't arrive in Washington by train, you should definitely make your way down to Union Station. It's a grand building, designed by the great Daniel Burnham, the architect behind New York's Flatiron Building and the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. It's an awe inspiring structure, competing with the likes of Grand Central Terminal in New York. It's also alive with great places to shop and eat.

Unlike Grand Central Terminal it's still a functioning train station - in fact it's Amtrak's busiest station and home t their headquarters. It handles around 13,000 train passengers a day, and gets over 40 million visitors a year. It was also once the scene of a terrible accident, when in 1956 the overnighter from Boston crashed through the station into the Great Hall and collapsed into the basement where today's food hall is. Amazingly nobody was killed. This accident was the inspiration for Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder's comedy Silver Streak.

antistar's Profile Photo
Jun 09, 2013
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The Christopher Columbus fountain stands at the entrance to Union Station in Washington DC. The fountain was created by Daniel Burnham and Lorado Taft. The dedication ceremony was on 8th June 1912.
The ceremony was watched by the then President William Howard Taft. A great parade took place with Knights of Columbus representatives attending from all over the world.

alyf1961's Profile Photo
Apr 22, 2013

Union Station

Union Station is a big building (the largest at the beginning of 20th century) that was built in 1907 in beaux-arts style by D.Burnham.

It used to be the main transfer hub for anyone traveling into DC and even today thousands of people use it every day.

We took a train only once (to Baltimore) but we went there some morning for breakfast because Union Station is also a shopping center with numerous cheap restaurants at low level (pic 3) etc
Nothing really interesting to do here while wait for your Amtrack train but you can check the fountain outside which is dedicated to Columbus or the 31 Presidents trees that were planted in 1934. Right next to the station you will find the Postal Museum(see next tip) which is way more interesting that this train station.

mindcrime's Profile Photo
Nov 09, 2010

Union Station

Built in 1908 in the Beaux-Arts style of architecture, this railway station is visually attractive both inside and out. It was renovated to its former glory in 1988. The stations main hall, the Grand Concource is particulary stunning as it's designed in the style of the Roman Baths of Diocletian.

Today the station as well as being a major transport hub is home to over 100 places to shop, eat and drink. The station also hosts exhibitions and cultural events.

tim07's Profile Photo
Feb 28, 2010

You are in luck .while .. a while .. while away!

If you are at Union Station in between trains of if you have arrived too early,
if you are feeling energetic, you are in luck, I have, for you 34 different things to do, depending on the time at your disposal, most of them dont cost much.

(These tips are for the high-energy persons, give yourself twice as much time if you need)

If all you have is ...

10 minutes - visit the passenger information booths and avail yourself of the free maps - full of maps, fun-filled facts, discount coupons and attractions lists

10 minutes - sit down at a seat in any of the open spaces and take it in, look up, look ahead, look left, look right - this place is awesome, take pics

10 - minutes - browse the arts shops and the history shops, to remind you of what you could see of DC when you have more time

10 - minutes - step outside and take it all in !

10 minutes - restroom break !

10 minutes ? - rush to the ATM and get some cash

20 minutes - quick bite in the food court

20 minutes - quick look outside

20 minutes - browse in the book store

20 minutes - browse at Amtrak information office and start dreaming about a rail-road trip

30 minutes - quick lunch at one of the many eateries inside

30 minutes - a cup of coffee - great for people watching

NOW - get the map out - quick ( the freebie for the visitor information booth will do fine)
mark the Capital (1/4 mile straight ahead, south of you, mark the Washington Monument (2 miles west of Capital) mark the White House (roughly 3/4 mile north of the Washington monument)

30 minutes - a quick jaunt to the Capital Hill and back

40 minutes - shopping ! Lots of shops, all around you

40 minutes - quick jaunt AROUND the Capital Hill plus Supreme Court and back

50 minutes - quick jaunt AROUND Supreme Court, Folgers Shakespeare Theater, Library of Congress, National Botanical Garden and back

60 minutes - a quick short trip on Constitution Avenue to the Newseum and Canadian Embassy (outdoors) and back - open all 24 hours

60 minutes - just relax outside the Capital Hill in any of the gardens and take pictures

60 minutes - take advantage of the US Post office

2 hours - you have 2 hours ? how about the Botanical Garden (its indoors and heated and air-conditioned !) or one of the nearer Smithsonian museums or Library of Congress or Judiciary Square, - dont forget to look around you, you will see many Federal Buildings

2 hours - watch a movie in the theatres at Union Station

2 hours - saunter around to the US Postal museum (reminder to myself!)

2 hours - check your luggage in and pick it up later - well worth it

3 - hours , did you say 3 hours ? - find the Circulator Bus and take a go-around trip

3 hours ? - Do you have FlexiCar or ZipCar membership ? make reservations and go for a ride around

3 hours ? - take a taxi and vist the FDR memorial, Tidal Basin, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, go around the Washington Monument, wave to the White House and come back, you will have time to stop at any one but not all of the places

3 hours ? - take a taxi to the Arlington National Cemetry and back

4 hours? - definetely skip all else and head straight for your favorite Smithsonian Museum, it will take you 50 minutes round trip walking, but you will have sufficient time to enjoy your visit also

4 hours - Walk to the Washingtonian monument and rush back if you have to, but you can also cover WWII memorial, look outside into the White House, gape at all the Federal Buildings around you and relax some on the Mall !

5 hours ? you say 5 hours , MAN you are talking serious fun time - I would take one way taxi to Thomas Jefferson Memorial, walk back wards to FDR memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam memorial, WWII memorial, Washington monument, White House, walk backwards towards Union Station,

5 hours ? did I mention the other museums ? monuments? art galleries ? universities ? Chinatown? Verizon Convention Center? National Cathedral ? there are just too many places, but you could pick one if you had to choose - happy discovering !

US Post office - there are two of them - one inside the terminal on the main level and there is also the US POstal Musuem (and of course a post office), the next building on the west side, at the intersection of Massacheusettes Ave, 1st ST NE and Norht Capital St

The FBI building is near Judiciary Square Metro Station, you could walk there and be back to Union Station in 20 minutes - but the exterior is not very exciting and you will not be allowed inside.

Greyhound Bus station is at 1005 1ST ST NE, Washington, DC 20002 - brisk 10 minutes walk north of Union Station

jethanand's Profile Photo
Jun 08, 2009

Top 5 Washington D.C. Writers

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Exciting shopping destination

Union Station is the most exciting and dynamic shopping destination in the country. The quality and diversity of its stores have made it the choice of Presidents as well as millions of busy commuters and wide-eyed tourists each year.
You will find specialty boutiques, fashion and gift stores, shops offering Washington souvenirs, and much, much more.
For a tasteful break from shopping, visit the food court on the lower level with hundreds of delicious choices.
With a subway station in the building and a location near the National Mall, it is popular with tourists.
Outside the building you can find a Columbus statue.

csordila's Profile Photo
Jan 11, 2009

Beaux Art

Union Station must be one of my favourite buildings in Washington. This grand building dates from 1908. It is built in a Roman style. The main hall is huge, with a vaulted ceiling. There are many shops and restaurants at the station. It is still a functioning station with trains leaving from here to many big cities in the US.

PierreZA's Profile Photo
May 18, 2008

One of a kind Beaux Arts styled train station

Washington DC's Union Station is another captivatingly beautiful building.
Just think, the primary use of this building is as a train station. The train
terminals are served by Amtrak, MARC, VRE commuter railroads plus DC's
own metro transit system of subway trains and buses. The main hall
interiors are simply grand with marbled floors and soaring ceilings. It is the
most visited destination in the nation's capital with at least 30+million
visitors a year. It is the site of various world-class exhibitions and cultural
events. Aside from that, the station has two levels of specialty shops and
boutiques, seven full-service restaurants as well as a food court in the
lower level. Opened in 1907 and completed in 1908 with various
restorations most recently in 1988. It's an example of Beaux Arts
architecture, Daniel Burnham served as the architect.

high_d's Profile Photo
Nov 21, 2007

Most Visited Place in DC!

Union Station is the most visited destination in Washington, DC with over 25 million visitors a year. Washington’s train station and premier shopping mall, also serves as a venue for world-class exhibitions and international cultural events. The elegant Main Hall with its vaulted ceiling more than 90-feet high and marble floors is reminiscent of the days when railway travel was fashionable. This beaux-arts building, opened in 1908, fell into severe disrepair in the 1940s. It underwent a monumental restoration project and reopened in 1988. Restaurants, including an international food court, and more than 100 specialty shops draw visitors. Its proximity to the Library of Congress and the U.S. Capitol make it a perfect midday stop for lunch. Still a working train station, Amtrak has service from here to all points in the country.

You will find 130 stores at Union Station featuring everything from men’s and women’s fashion to jewelry to decorative arts to games and toys. The Food Court at Union Station is a great place to enjoy a snack or take the whole family for a quick and inexpensive meal. Full service restaurants include America, B. Smith, East Street Café, Station Grill, Thunder Grill and Uno Chicago Grill. A state-of-the-art, 9 screen American Multi-Cinema complex is located on the lower level. Sightseeing tours depart from Union Station for the Gray Line, Old Town Trolley and Tourmobile.

Open Hours: Station: 24 hrs, Shops: 10am-9pm M-Sat, noon-6p Sun

machomikemd's Profile Photo
Aug 15, 2007

Things To Do Near Union Station

Things to do

Old Town Trolley Tours of Washington DC

Why not take a city tour by the Old Town Trolley? You can get on at any of the 19 stops and travel about the city enjoying the guide's stories, information and anecdotes ( all in all 2 1/4 hours)....
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Things to do

National Postal Museum

What a nice surprise! We had some time till we catch the train from Union Station so we visited the Postal Museum which is located next to the station. There are different galleries that lead you...
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Things to do

D.C. Ducks

This is a fun adventure. I quick tour of Washington DC starting from Union Station (train station). The tour is approximately 90 minutes long and gives you a quick tour of the mall grounds in...
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Things to do

Japanese American Memorial

I discovered this memorial by chance and I was struck by it. I have returned here several times, to meditate on humanity .. "to Patriotism, Commemorating Honor and Acknowledging Injustice" ... "the...
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Things to do

Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court building was completed in 1935. The Neoclassical-style building sits behind the Capitol and was designed by American architect Cass Gilbert, who unfortunately died before the...
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Things to do

George Mason Memorial

A memorial to George Mason lies just southwest of the Jefferson Memorial. The George Mason Memorial commemorates one of our lesser-known but very important Founding Fathers. Along with James Madison,...
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Getting to Union Station


50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE


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