Planning Your Trip

Hotels

Hotel prices in DC are often expensive in the spring. Hotels closer to the Capitol tend to be more expensive than those further out, including in the DC suburbs in Maryland or Virginia. There are many options close to Metro stations (DC’s subway system) or a short cab ride to the Capitol. Metro stations outside of the city with a variety of hotels include: Crystal City, Silver Spring, Pentagon City, Rosslyn, National Airport, King Street Station, Ballston, & Bethesda.

Potentially less expensive alternatives to traditional hotels include private home rental services such as Airbnb, VRBO, & Couchsurfing.

Some options close to the Capitol include:

Some options inside of the city and near Metro stations:

Some options near Ronald Reagan National Airport (this airport is on a Metro station):

Some options in Virginia:

Some options in Maryland:

These hotels, while not necessarily close to other transportation options, offer shuttles to Union Station near the Capitol:

Finally, those flying in to Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport may want to consider staying at an airport near BWI. Many options will have free airport shuttles, and ideally shuttles to the MARC train station into DC. The MARC Penn Line train is the most economical option into DC from BWI and the ride is between 30 and 45 minutes. A roundtrip ticket from the airport stop costs about $14. Tickets may be purchased at the BWI rail station or with cash on the train. There is a $5 surcharge for purchasing a ticket on the train.

Maps

A map of the US Capitol can be found here. The official DC travel site is located here. An interactive map with a variety of interesting attractions can be found here. Services such as Google Maps or MapQuest may also prove useful. Google Maps also allows you to plan a route using public transportation.

  • Special note about the newly opened National Museum of African American History & Culture: This museum is extremely popular and tickets can be difficult to come by. While tickets are free, they are limited. Visitors can reserve tickets for May starting on February 1st. Visitors may also reserve same-day passes starting at 6 AM or attempt to secure walk-up passes. More information about passes can be found here.

Meals/Restaurants

DC has innumerable wonderful restaurants. Yelp or Trip Advisor are great places to start.

Some options within Congressional office buildings:

  • American Grill (ground floor of Hart Senate Office Building)
  • Dirksen Cafeteria (basement of Dirsken Senate Office Building)
  • Cups & Co. Carry Out (basement of Russell Senate Office Building)
  • Longworth Cafeteria (basement of Longworth House Office Building)
  • Rayburn Cafeteria (basement of Rayburn House Building)
  • Cannon Carry Out (basement of Cannon House Office Building)
  • Capitol Visitor Center Cafeteria (lower level of the Capitol’s Capitol Visitor Center)

Some fast options near the Capitol include:

Some sit-down options near the Capitol include:

Weather

The average temperature in DC in May is 66°F, frequently climbing into the mid-70s or decreasing to the high 50s. DC is often humid, so temperatures can feel hotter than they are. Rain is extremely common in May, with rainfall occurring roughly every other day, so please come prepared for inclement weather.

What to Wear

Wear comfortable shoes, as Capitol Hill requires a lot of walking. Dress in somewhat lighter clothing but bring a jacket/cover up and an umbrella/poncho, as temperatures and conditions can vary throughout the day. Be sure to check the weather in DC before you come.

If you are planning on attending Hill visits, we recommend professional clothing. Some groups may wear T-shirts to show unity or represent a particular program. It is most important that you wear what is comfortable for you to walk around in. It will be a long day. Legislators understand that this is a busy day for constituents and they are simply glad to be able to meet with them, regardless of what they may be wearing.

Getting Around

DC’s public transportation system, the Metro, serves many areas inside and outside of the city at an economical rate. Go to Metro’s website for more information on their services. The nearest Metro stations to the Capitol, Union Station and Capitol South, are a 10-15 minute walk away. Waits between Metro trains vary from 1-15 minutes, depending on the time of day. Allow extra time in case of delays.

Persons with disabilities that impede their ability to ride escalators will want to pay special attention to alerts on the Metro website about stations that have non-operational elevators. At those locations, alternative free shuttle buses are provided from nearby stations with a functioning elevator.

While exact fare information can be found on the Metro website, off-peak prices are between $1.75 and $3.60.  Peak prices (from open to 9:30 AM and between 3 & 7 PM) are between $2.15 and $5.90. Most trips within DC will not exceed $3.00, even during peak hours.

Similarly, the bus system in the DC metropolitan area is robust, but sometimes more time-consuming. Fare for most non-airport buses is $1.75. Transfers between buses are generally free and transfers between Metro and bus are discounted $.50. Visit Metro’s website for more information.

The DC Circulator covers many of DC’s areas of interest and is a cheaper and potentially faster option than bus travel with the District. Fares are $1.00, with free transfers from Metrobus, $1.00 discounts for transfers to Metrobus, and $.50 discounts to and from Metrorail.

Taxis and ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft are abundant in DC, particularly close to the Capitol. It is customary to tip taxi drivers 15 to 20 percent. Most rides within DC cost between $5 and $15. To use a ridesharing service, one must typically have a smart mobile device (e.g. smartphone, iPad or other tablet) and download the associated app for the service. Payment information is entered directly into the app, so the system does require a small setup but is cashless. For users without a smart mobile device, the service Go Go Grandparent serves a similar function with older cellular or landline phones and also requires advance registration.

Visitors traveling from more distant parts of Maryland & Virginia that are not Metro-accessible may consider using the respective train services of those states for the DC metropolitan area: the MARC train and the VRE.

The Capitol is very large and security limitations make significant portions not easily accessible by car, so plan to do some degree of walking no matter what transportation options you choose. If you have mobility issues, you may consider renting a wheelchair or mobility scooter. More information on persons with disabilities visiting the Capitol can be found here.

Personal Safety

Although the areas that tourists are likely to frequent generally have low rates of violent crime, theft is not uncommon. Be mindful of your surroundings and your belongings.

Security

Visitors entering most government buildings and museums will have to go through metal detectors. Note that sharp or pointed objects (including nail clippers and files, but excluding writing utensils), weapons, firearms, and hairspray or other aerosol containers are not permitted.

The US Capitol has security protocols beyond the congressional office buildings or museums. In addition to the items forbidden in those buildings, food, beverages, and very large bags cannot be brought into the Capitol. A full list of prohibited items can be found here.

The Capitol Police restrict the access of buses to the Capitol. If you are bringing a bus of rally participants, you must reach out to the rally organizers at grandrally2017.yvonne@gmail.com to discuss those arrangements, otherwise you will not be able to access the Capitol.

*Please note that this page only contains GrandRally organizers’ suggestions and predictions. It is not an endorsement or guarantee of any of the services listed.