Best ways to get around in D.C.

D.C. is actually a fairly small city in terms of square mileage.  From end to end, it’s only about 5 miles.  You could stretch it out by taking a diagonal measurement.  Still, even if you walked all the way from Capitol Heights to Chevy Chase that’s only 10 miles.  A two mile walk will get you pretty much anywhere.  If you’re headed West from H Street, it’s pretty much safe to walk anywhere during the day. The city is a grid, so navigation is easy.

The Metro is kind of expensive compared to walking, but it can be useful for traveling in large groups.  It’s hard to find any parking spaces, and traffic is horrible.  (However, if you are staying with us we do have a parking spot for guests available.)  Your other option is: the bus.  Riding the bus can be a hilarious experience depending on which one you get on (I might cover that later) but it’s actually kind of a waste of time and confusing if you’re not familiar with the routes.

If you want to get somewhere fast or if you’re trying to get home after dark, consider renting a Capital Bikeshare bike.  The shared bikes are a very convenient (but slightly dorky) means to get around town.

Here’s a good rule of thumb, in case you want to stay in the safer parts of town: try to stay in the areas where the city has placed a lot of Capital Bikeshare stations.  Check out the Capital Bikeshare map.  Generally, areas where there are plenty of bike stations are the safest areas.  Taking a family bike ride across the Anacostia river at night still probably isn’t the smartest thing to do in DC.

The bikes are bright red and bulky, but they are always clean and well maintained.  As long as your trip is no longer than 30 minutes station-to-station it’s an incredible deal.  You get unlimited 30 minute rides all day long for $7.

Here’s the extra charge breakdown:

  • No extra charge for the first 30 minutes
  • After the first 30 minutes there’s a $1.50 fee for the next 30 minutes
  • $3.00 for the next 30.

Fees keep going up from there, up to $94.00 if you rent a bike for 24 hours.

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, simply park your bike into a station whenever you see one.  When you check your bike out again, the clock is reset.

Caveat: if you’re close to maxing out your credit card, watch out because there’s a $101 hold that gets placed on your card when you rent a bike.  Also: don’t lose your bike.  According to the fine print, bike share customers are liable for up to $1000 for each bike they rent, if you don’t return the bike within a day.  So make sure your bike is secured when you dock it.  Less than 10 bikes total have been stolen since the inception of the program though, so it’s not that big of a deal.

It’s also possible to get a yearly subscription to the bike share.  Subscribers are issued an electronic bike key that works on any of the stations, and have access to unlimited rides for only $7 a month.  It takes about two weeks for them to send the key, and if you quit before the year ends you owe the yearly $75 fee.  Once you have your key though, it’s really easy to grab a bike and go.


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