Driving in DC – Only For The Bravest Beltway Warrior

DC Traffic Jam

DC Traffic Jam

Planning on visiting Washington D.C? Why not, its one of the most popular city's in the U.S. as a travel destination. So how to do you plan on getting around in the capitol city? If you plan on driving then you really need to read this first.

Here are some D.C. driving tips from WikiTravel.org

Driving in D.C. is difficult. Even most Washingtonians avoid driving downtown. Limited and expensive parking, ruthless parking enforcement, sadistic traffic circles, fines from automated red light cameras and absurd speed traps, a pothole epidemic, frequent street direction changes, some of the worst congestion in the country, street closures without warning—take the Metro.

Forbes Magazine declared the D.C. metro area to have the worst traffic in the nation; Allstate Insurance reports that you are statistically more likely to get into an accident in D.C. than any other American city, with an accident rate 95.5% worse than the national average. And the grid is deceptively tortuous. Washingtonians will proudly tell you that the plan was intended to confuse invading armies (though the myth is actually false). For a fun challenge, try to drive on Massachusetts Ave from Wisconsin Ave to RFK Stadium—it's like riding a bucking bronco!

If for whatever reason you ignore all the above advice and do choose to drive in Washington, here are a few tips: Street parking downtown is limited to two hours only (even at meters), so be prepared to park in a private lot or garage, which cost anywhere from $10-25 per day. Avoid driving and parking during rush hour (weekdays, 7-9:30AM and 4-6:30PM), since this is when the majority of the city's traffic congestion, street direction changes, and parking restrictions are in effect.

If you do park on the street, pay close attention to traffic signs. Most streets downtown restrict parking during rush hour and visitors often return to the spot where they parked only to find that their vehicle has been ticketed and towed.

Local opposition prevented the construction of interstate highways through Washington, steering resources towards building the Washington Metro system instead. The two freeways that feed into the city from Virginia, I-66 and I-395, both terminate quickly. Washington and its innermost suburbs are encircled by the Capital Beltway, I-495, which gave rise to the expression "Inside the Beltway."

Washington boasts several scenic drives:

  • Pennsylvania Ave from Fourteenth St NW toward the Capitol.
  • Rock Creek Pkwy, which follows the Rock Creek through D.C.'s own central park, then traces the Potomac River to the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Reservoir Rd from Georgetown through the leafy Clara Barton Pkwy, continuing to the Capital Beltway.
  • Embassy Row, Massachusetts Ave between Scott Circle and Wisconsin Ave.
  • George Washington Memorial Pkwy, which follows the Potomac on the Virginia side of the river to Mount Vernon.
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3 Responses to "Driving in DC – Only For The Bravest Beltway Warrior"

  1. Robbin Nimon says:

    We appreciate you work on this!

  2. DMV says:

    This is really informative. Good study!

  3. daryljames says:

    I’ve been to the DC downtown area and fully agree with the author of this article…take his advise….RIDE THE METRO….

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