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Getting Around Washington DC

Washington, D.C., and its inner ring suburbs in Virginia and Maryland are served by the Washington Metro system. Buses work with the Metro trains to provide a blanket of public transportation in D.C. and its nearby suburbs. Metrobuses provide more than 300 routes. Free transfers between buses or between the Metro and a Metrobus are available with the purchase of a SmarTrip Card. The DC Circulator connects riders within the city's commercial districts. Private companies also offer on-off tour buses that stop at the many monuments, the Capitol, the White House and more.

The main arteries into the city from Virginia are I-95 and I-66. I-95 changes names to I395 when it passes the Capital Beltway. I-395 ends when it crosses into D.C. I-66 is restricted to high occupancy vehicles during morning rush hour, but only on the rush hour side of the highway. It too ends when it crosses into D.C. I-95 is the name given to the eastern bend of the Beltway which continues into Maryland. For all its cars, D.C. is a walkable city. It also has more than 45 miles of bike lanes and many self-service bike rental stands.

With 86 stations, the Metro is simple to use, and many tourists take the trains. Train stops for tourist destinations include the Smithsonian Museum stop with an exit onto the federal mall and an Arlington Cemetery stop. There are five Metro lines: red, orange, yellow, blue and green. Some travel on the same rails, making it important to read the signs to ensure that you catch the right one. The Metro Center is the transfer station for orange, blue and red. Union Station, on the red line, also houses an Amtrak line and commuter lines.

Currently the Metro links riders directly to Reagan National Airport, which is just across the river from the federal city. To reach Dulles International Airport by public transit, take the orange line train to the end and transfer to an express bus. The Metro is building a silver line that will go to Dulles. To drive to Reagan National, take I-66 or I-395 to George Washington Parkway toward Alexandria. Parking is difficult at land-locked National, and traffic is a big drawback when trying to reach Dulles. Thurgood Marshall Airport, also called Baltimore-Washington International, is 30 miles north in Maryland. It also offers national and international flights.