Is it safe/smart to park by the Crystal City Metro?
December 10, 2004 12:31 PM   Subscribe

New to DC: Is it safe/smart to park by the Crystal City Metro? [MI]

My apartment is a bus ride away from the Crystal City Metro stop, and as you would guess, late at night its schedule is infrequent, if at all. I'm planning on going to an event in Adams Morgan tonight, but there's no available parking there, and I have no idea when the busses stop late at night.

So I'm thinking of driving to Crystal city, leaving the car in one of the shopping garages, and taking the Metro so I don't have to worry about catching a bus at 2-3 AM. My problem is that I have no idea if the garages (which are for the shops, but are free after 4:30 PM and on weekends) will actually be open 24 hours, and that if I DO leave a car in one of the garages there, or on the street in Crystal City, the liklihood of my car being in danger.

If used to living in NYC, where everyone's awake 24 hours and garages don't really close. So I'd rather feel stupid and ask than risk it and get my car stolen: does anyone else do this? Is it possible? Or should I just bit the bullet and figure out a bus route for 3 AM?
posted by XQUZYPHYR to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (14 answers total)
To simplify, I'm basically asking what the general practice might be for people wanting to commute on nights/weekends in the DC-Metro area. I live in Alexandria,VA, and basically what I'd like is to know where I can park near a Metro station so I don't need to worry about not having a bus available to get back to my apartment late at night.

If Crystal City is a bad idea (risk of car theft-wise), are there parking lots near other Metro stations that people use to do stuff like this? If so, how much do they cost, etc.?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:52 PM on December 10, 2004

I used to live in that area- you might be able to use the Pentagon parking lot evenings and weekends. Plenty of parking, and regular patrols to keep things safe. Even had one of the Pentagon Police give me a ride home when my car wouldn't start one snowy winter night.

This was pre 9/11, so things may have changed- you should double check the signs before you leave your car, because they will definitely tow you if you're in violation.

Oh, and it is free to park there.
posted by InfidelZombie at 1:02 PM on December 10, 2004

Crystal City should be fairly safe but you just have to try to read the signs at the lots. If you want to be sure you can get your car out. There's always parking at the airport, but that costs a fair amount. There's also a lot of parking around Pentagon City station, but I don't know for sure if any of that is 24 hours. There's street parking get to the Braddock Rd, King St, and Eisenhower Ave stops. And a metro lot at Huntington, but that's a long drive from Crystal City. Metro lots are $3.75, in general, but you must have one of their SmarTrip cards. Not a normal farecard to pay them. Most stations have SmarTrip machines, but they cost some amount extra the first time.

There is street parking not that far from Pentagon City, I know, but I don't know how easy it is to park there and how long you can park there at night. Heck, you could even park in one of the many Crystal City Hotel parking lots. But they might cost money.
posted by skynxnex at 1:05 PM on December 10, 2004

skynxnex- I have SmarTrip, so that's no problem- I take Metro everyday; in the morning, I can catch a bus every 15 minutes to the Pentagon and blue line to work. The problem is the busses aren't around nights.

Crystal City worried me because I did the whole parking in the garage thing on Sunday, but that was during the day. Suffice to say, leaving my car in a near-empty garage with no security guards sort of worries me. Ditto for on the street outside a line of closed shops with no one around.

I'm willing to drive the 5 miles to Van Dorn and park there, but I'd prefer finding somewhere along the way that I don't have to pay for. Crystal City or near the Pentagon would be great.

InfidelZombie - I'll see if I can Google any answers on that, but I'll bet parking around the Pentagon late at night isn't allowed anymore.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:14 PM on December 10, 2004

Not possible to drive into the city? Usually you can find street parking with a little luck, and maybe with a little bit of a walking to where you want to go...
posted by mhaw at 1:21 PM on December 10, 2004

i wouldn't worry about car theft in crystal city area (assuming you don't drive a mazzaratti or something). garage closing is potential issue but you should be able to find that out easy enough eh?

are you sure the bus won't be running? it's been awhile since i've been on a metrobus, but my experience was they go pretty late. also (hopefully this isn't too obvious) metro has a great trip planner where you can input the time of travel.

welcome to DC, XQUZYPHYR! we need a meetup to celebrate.
posted by danOstuporStar at 1:26 PM on December 10, 2004

If you're not drinking, I'd just drive. The main drag of Adams Morgan isn't all that close to the Woodley Park metro (and the U Street-Woodley Park shuttle bus isn't particularly reliable). Just don't try to park on 18th or Columbia. Try U Street, or Florida Avenue. There's enough turnover of people that you shouldn't have all that much trouble.

Between having to transfer metro lines/taking a bus home from Crystal City, it will take you forever to get home on public transportation.
posted by mookieproof at 1:29 PM on December 10, 2004

mhaw- I suppose it's possible, but I think the same situation applies with the street in Crystal City- I don't know where it's safe in Virginia to leave my car unattended- I certainly don't know where to do that in DC.

mookieproof- that would solve much of my problem, but 18th is actually where I'm going, and I've been told the possibility of parking around there after 9 PM on a Friday is close to nil.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:31 PM on December 10, 2004

Just budget a little time to look for parking around 18th St. You will always find a space eventually. Better to drive around for 25 minutes and then have your car nearby and accessible later than doing all the Crystal City rigamarole. There are garages and lots too if you don't mind paying through the nose.
Also, be aware the Metro closes fairly early here (by NYC standards.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:41 PM on December 10, 2004

One big difference between DC and NYC: the DC metro actually closes. (Doesn't NYC's subway remain open 24 hrs?) Check the "last train leaving" schedule (PDF) when planning your trip.

Crystal City is fairly safe, and we've used those lots many times, but not that late at night. You could always call a cab in advance.
posted by arco at 1:42 PM on December 10, 2004

arco: exactly. Since the trains close at like 2:30-3 tonight, the trip planner on Metro's site doesn't offer any accurate "how to get home" plans since it defaults to "wait until 6 AM." It's a badly-coded tool.

It looks like the best bet is to have an adventure and just drive to Adams Morgan. I'll reserve parking by the Metro for weekend day trips.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 2:10 PM on December 10, 2004

Afraid I can't help with the transport issue, but I wanted to say welcome to the DC area.
posted by grateful at 7:47 PM on December 10, 2004

Let us know how it went.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:09 PM on December 10, 2004

My car battery died in the Pentagon parking lot shortly after 9/11 (The wall was still collapsed; hordes of people around, trying to catch a glance). I also had recently expired tags on my car (new tags sitting on the counter at home waiting to be applied). The patrolmen could have been strict and unweilding during that time of heightened security, but they were very helpful, understanding, and courteous. As it was getting dark and people were dispersing, they offered to help find someone to jump my car. Just my $0.98.
posted by Hankins at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2004

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