Best way to travel from BWI to Dupont circle? Is there parking?
March 20, 2013 1:34 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to travel form Baltimore to Dupont circle, DC during the afternoon? Is there parking available around the DC dupont area? Thanks.
posted by proficiency101 to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
There is parking available near Dupont Circle - both garages (if you're there for a few hours you'll be looking at a $15-$20 charge) and metered on-street spaces if you're lucky or persistent enough to get one.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:35 PM on March 20, 2013

You mean what route to take driving? You're going against traffic in the afternoon, so straight down 295 to New York Ave to Mass Ave is probably your best bet.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 1:41 PM on March 20, 2013

The Washington Post airport guide has all the options - train, bus, or shuttle - for getting to and from BWI. At the bottom of this page.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:43 PM on March 20, 2013

During the week, the MARC train without a doubt. It will cost $6 to get you from BWI to Union Station. From there you can hop on the red line towards Shady Grove to get off at Dupont.

During the weekend, the MARC doesn't run, so you would have to take the B30 bus from BWI (picks up at doors 2 and 17 I believe) to Greenbelt metro. Take the Green line into DC, switch at Chinatown to the Red.

I've done this many times.
posted by SpicyMustard at 2:06 PM on March 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh and there is a free shuttle from BWI to the train depot at BWI (5 min ride) that runs frequently, but again, weekdays only.
posted by SpicyMustard at 2:07 PM on March 20, 2013

Parking and driving around Dupont are always stop-and-go (lots of short blocks, one-ways, diagonals, pedestrians, etc.) and it's a pretty dense area without a whole lot of easy parking. If you have the option to not take a car, follow SpicyMustard's advice.
posted by psoas at 2:08 PM on March 20, 2013

The driving won't be bad; parking is hell. MARC would be the way to go, unless you must have the car with you for some other waypoint. If your goal is to arrive at BWI, get to the Dupont area, and get back, MARC.

It was near Dupont circle driving around one day that this Alabamian got to thinking: I think I could live here. Then I tried to park.
posted by randomkeystrike at 2:44 PM on March 20, 2013

Parking is available but difficult to find and will likely require advanced parallel parking skills. Most of the meters take silver change; a lot of them now allow you to pay via app/phone and a debit card. Otherwise, you might find a garage with open spaces and it will probably be expensive.

Driving in the neighborhood Dupont Circle will include pretty busy city traffic with lots of stop-and-go and assertive/aggressive drivers. Also, there are one-ways and places where three streets intersect.

Driving in Dupont Circle, as in the traffic circle itself, can be overwhelming if you are not used to it. If you haven't driven it before, I recommend looking at a map and familiarizing yourself with the streets/routes that will not lead you there as you try to find parking. (My GPS actually loves to try to send me through the Circle because it looks like such a short, smart way, so even technology cannot be trusted. It's usually really worth avoiding altogether.)

So basically I think you should take public transportation.
posted by juliplease at 5:43 PM on March 20, 2013

I would double-check regarding the shuttle between BWI and the train station on the weekend if that's relevant to your needs. MARC doesn't run on the weekend but Amtrak does and I think the shuttle runs as well.
posted by kat518 at 5:50 PM on March 20, 2013

I used to do this all the time. If you'd consider not bringing your car, then I have ideas:

Personally, I'd take the airport shuttle to the Amtrak station and take the Marc Train to Union Station. Then just take the metro from Union Station via redline to Dupont Circle. And then get a cab to your destination. It sounds complicated and I panicked the first time I did it but if you just follow the crowd and ask people if you feel unsure, it's pretty easy and lots of people are doing it. And I did this with multiple luggage. If the Marc train isn't running because it's a weekend, you'd have to take a bus shuttle from the airport to the green line and then transfer to red and... I personally wouldn't recommend that, unless you want to save money and the Marc isn't running. The Marc schedule is online.

My other recommendation is you could just pay $35 and use the blue Supershuttle where some dude will drive you and other people in a van directly from BWI to your doors. ( You should also tip the guy. The Marc train is only $6, but a cab from Union Station to your destination could be like $10, so it may be worth the extra $20 to not have to do any navigation yourself.

Driving in D.C. sucks. Finding parking in Dupont is a total pain in the ass and if you are only visiting, it's very unlikely you will use a car. I once visited family with a car and managed to get two parking tickets because we never used the car and all the parking near my family's place was very restricted so we were supposed to keep moving it, but there were never any spots. Save the hassle and use public transportation if you can.
posted by AppleTurnover at 6:12 PM on March 20, 2013

Agreed that, unless you need a car, the MARC or Amtrak from the BWI station (via shuttle from the terminal to the station) to Union Station, and then the Red Line to Dupont, is the way to go. I have done this many times and it's actually way less stressful than driving around the Dupont Circle area if you're not familiar with it. (And I say this as someone who works near Dupont Circle and drives to and from work every day. I am used to it, and I have a guaranteed spot in a garage, and I still hate driving through that area.)

If you drive, I'd recommend parking in a garage rather than trying to find street parking. is a good site to find available garages (and they have an app).
posted by devinemissk at 6:25 PM on March 20, 2013

Actually, oops. I just noticed in my post above, you do not need to take a cab to your destination once you get to Dupont. I was erroneously thinking you could take a cab from Union Station and skip the metro. But if you go to via redline from Union Station to Dupont, wherever you are walking shouldn't be too far. But if you have luggage, you may rather just take a cab from Union Station to your destination after you get off the Marc train. Sorry for any confusion.

If you're unfamiliar with the area and public transportation, Supershuttle is probably the way to go. That's what I have my mom use, haha.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:24 PM on March 20, 2013

Agree that if you don't know your way around, driving in Dupont Circle is a nightmare and street parking is nearly impossible - it's zoned anyway so you can only park for two hours at a time if you don't have a sticker for that part of the city, and you can't feed the meter for more than a couple hours either, and spots are blocked off during rush hour.. and with all the embassies around there are also a lot of spots off-limits for embassy parking, and lots of streets run one-way, and if you wind up going around Dupont Circle it's *very* easy to turn off in a direction you didn't mean to go because the lanes force you to go there.. But that won't matter because street parking is nearly impossible.

If you're actually coming in from Baltimore city (not flying in to BWI) and you need to get back to Bmore that same day after the MARC train isn't running... your best option might be to drive down the BW Parkway (295) or I-95 (whichever has less traffic) and park at New Carrollton, take the Orange Line into the city and switch at Metro Center to the Red Line to Dupont. That is the least city driving you'd have to deal with. Alternately: take the BW Parkway (295) to New York Ave (Rt 50) and follow New York Ave into the city, hang a left on First St NE, park in the garage at Union Station and take the Red Line over.
posted by citron at 10:17 PM on March 20, 2013

If for some reason, as previously stated MARC does not run on weekends, you can also park at some of the metro stations that are further out, like Grovesnor or Shady Grove, and just take the red line directly down to Dupont Circle thus avoiding the horrible downtown DC parking but still having easy access to a car to get back to Baltimore.

The standard WMATA Metro map shows where there are Metro stations with parking. If you use one of the stations on the red line it will be easier to get to Dupont.
posted by forkisbetter at 11:28 AM on March 21, 2013

I once had an incident in which I spent so long looking for street parking in Dupont Circle that I a) started crying and b) gave up on the social outing I was supposed to attend and went home. There are parking garages available, though - just be forewarned that they are pricy.
posted by naoko at 7:03 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Amtrak is typically about $13 from BWI to Union Station, and runs 7 days a week. It's a bit less frequent than the MARC, and there's not much service after midnight if you're taking a red-eye. Metro closes at midnight Sunday-Thurs, and 3AM Fri-Sat.

Parking in Dupont is a toss-up. I've found free street spots a number of times, and have been forced to turn around and go home on others.
posted by schmod at 1:24 PM on March 22, 2013

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