Travel Hacks for Inauguration Weekend
With Inauguration Weekend just around the corner, here are some travel hacks to keep in mind from CheapAir:
Get out of town for cheap accommodation
Every hotel within the city limits is charging extortion rates for the weekend, and most have 4-night minimums. We think the easiest workaround to this is just avoiding accommodation in D.C. altogether. After all, the city is tiny and surrounded by more affordable suburbs with reasonable rates at local hotels. And they’re all on the super-convenient Metro line. These towns are our picks for reasonable rates and easy access:
Rosslyn, New Carrollton (Orange Line) Bethesda, Silver Spring (Red Line) Tysons Corner, Spring Hill (Silver Line)Rosslyn, Pentagon City, Crystal City, Old Town Alexandria (Blue Line)
Last minute deals may also be found on Airbnb as locals open up their extra bedrooms to folks coming into town.
Whatever you do, don’t rent a car
Rental rates are going to be astronomical and parking will be nonexistent. While it’s true that Inauguration Day is a federal holiday, it’s not going to translate to empty streets. Dress warm, use the aforementioned convenient public transportation (which will have extended hours for the weekend), and you’ll be glad you did. If you absolutely MUST rent a car, please do check in advance to make sure you book a hotel that has parking. Otherwise, you’ll spend way too much time dealing with parking logistics.
Metro Schedule: On Inauguration Day the Metro will open at 4:00 a.m. and close at 2:00 a.m. To combat long wait times, the Metro will be operating on “rush hour” service from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Peak fares will be in effect. Map your ride and fare on the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority site.
Take advantage of the freebies
Just to start, anyone can “attend” the Inauguration. You would have to write to your Senator or Congressman to get one of the few coveted, expensive ticketed seats in the grandstands, but there will be viewing stations all along the National Mall with large screen televisions and speakers where crowds will gather to experience the swearing in of our 46th President.
The Women’s March on Washington on January 21 is also a free event, open to any and all participants. You can like their FaceBook page for up to the minute information on logistics and scheduling.
But beyond the official events themselves, D.C. has a plethora of free attractions to keep you and yours entertained. The Lincoln Memorial is a showstopper, as are the Vietnam and Korean War Memorials. If you have a few hours to kill, we recommend a visit to one of these great museums: National Gallery of Art, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Air & Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History (both Smithsonian stops). If you’re traveling with the kids (or just need a break from politics), the National Zoo is a fun and low-key diversion for the whole family.
Two words: Happy Hour
D.C. is chock full of amazing happy hours, and not just during the week. Dino’s Grotto has awesome Happy Hour specials Tuesday through Saturday from 5-7pm and all day on Sunday and Monday. There are too many to list here, but you’re within a stone’s throw of an awesome happy hour if you’re in D.C. proper. Other cheap eats abound? One favorite is the Copycat Co., where they pair North Chinese small plates with craft cocktails. The best part? Not a single item on the tasty menu goes for more than $4.
Buy your airline ticket now
You might be surprised to hear that nonstop flights are actually pretty reasonable right now, especially if you look at flights into Baltimore (BWI) instead of DC (take a $20 train into the city)! Sample fares on CheapAir.com:
LAX to BWI nonstop on Spirit or Alaska/American from *$250 roundtrip JFK to IAD on JetBlue from *$226 roundtrip ORD to BWI nonstop on Spirit from under *$200 roundtrip.