Getting around in Washington, DC without a car

October 18, 2018
Rachel Posey

Whether you’re heading into Washington DC for a quick trip or spending a week touring the memorials, you may be wondering how best to get around. Locals know that DC cab fares can add up quickly and don’t offer great views of the city. Luckily, DC is full of alternative transit options that allow you to experience the city without being trapped in a moving metal box!

The DC Metro System

The DC Metro runs from 5am to 11:30pm Monday through Thursday, 5am to 1am on Friday, 7am-1am Saturday, and 8am to 11pm on Sunday. Hours of operation vary on weekends so make sure to check their website here. They also provide a handy-dandy Trip Planner to help you find the fastest route!

Noting a few key metro centers before your trip to DC will benefit your ease of transit during your metro adventure:

  • Union Station – Red Line: This will likely be your starting point if you are entering DC via train or bus. You will need this stop if you are continuing your voyage onward to Philly or New York. You can take the red line from Union Station to one of two hubs, Gallery Place-Chinatown and Metro Center.
  • Gallery Place Chinatown – Red, Green, and Yellow lines: Directly off this stop you can find The National Portrait Gallery, Spy Museum, and many delicious lunch options. Test out Daikaya for Japanese comfort food, or Jaleo, acclaimed chef Jose Andre’s Spanish tapas bar.
  • Arlington Cemetery – Blue Line: Feet can’t take the pavement any longer? Rest them on the metro while heading to Arlington National Cemetery to see the changing of the guard. This beautiful ceremony takes place once every 30 minutes between 8am and 7pm from April 1 to September 2nd. From October 1st to March 31st, the guard only changes every hour between 8am and 5pm.
  • L’Enfant Metro Station: Let us know about your metro experience when you hop off this stop and onto the Urban Adventures Monuments cart for our Washington DC Unveiled tour. We’ll meet you there and take you to all the important sites in DC! Our adventure starts with the National Mall which is just a fun fact or two away from L’Enfant.

Capital BikeShare

BIkeshare program in Washington, DC

Trade a car for two wheels in DC | Photo by DC Urban Adventures

Using the Capital BikeShare for transportation is a great way to support the local community while in town. The DC Tourism Industry helps subsidise the BikeShare for residents, who pay just an $8 membership fee per month. You won’t have trouble finding a BikeShare station as they are on nearly every corner of the city. Capital BikeShare  provides a full map of stations along with updates on bike availability. If you are unable to dock your bike at a full station, you will have a free 15 minutes to get to the next station.

Tip: Save money by buying a 3-day pass for $17, good for unlimited rides under 30 minutes!


Scooters in Washington, DC

Scooters were made for ridng around DC | Photo by DC Urban Adventures

Business-dressed professionals zooming DC streets on scooters are a common city sight. This could be you! Check out Skip, LimeBike or Bird – all apps that allow you to rent scooters and fly through the city. Simply find the scooter using GPS, unlock it through the app, and ride away! These can be left nearly anywhere, but please be responsible and do not leave scooters blocking pedestrian areas or entryways. In fact, scooters are completely prohibited on sidewalks but allowed in bike lanes. You don’t technically need a helmet by law, but we encourage you to air on the side of caution. Scooter trips are a sustainable way to cut down on traffic emissions within the city. Scooter companies seek to alleviate traffic congestion and keep our air clean.


Nothing gives you the real feel for a city like strolling through the streets. By walking you put yourself on the ground level and are free to explore wherever your museum-trekking feet carry you. The blocks in DC can be rather long so we recommend walking in conjunction with one other transit method for the perfect balance.

We suggest getting out of the Capital area via metro and exploring some of DC’s unique neighbourhoods on foot. Adam’s Morgan, accessible via the Woodley Park Zoo stop on the red line, is home to many quaint coffee shops such as Songbyrd Record Cafe and Tryst.

You can take the free DC Streetcar up and down H street to cool down while exploring. It runs every 20 minutes. The. Best. Festival. Ever. takes place here in September.  H Street Festival showcases some of the best dance, art, fashion and performances in the city. This neighbourhood is home to a vast selection of restaurant options which we guide you through in our Tastes of H Street Food Tour.

Get around with a local!

Getting around by a cart in DC with Urban Adventures

See DC with a local on a comfy cart | Photo by DC Urban Adventures

Last but definitely not least, hop on an Urban Adventures cart tour! While you can’t use us as a taxi all day, you can enjoy a two-hour monuments tour with an open-air breeze to combat the DC mugginess. This is a great tour to do when you first arrive in the city, to orient yourself and get great suggestions for the rest of your trip. We cover all of the major monuments and various war memorials. You get to jump out for photo ops at the Capitol Building and Washington Monument. We even get to say hello to Albert Einstein! We provide you with an awesome local guide to ensure you disembark full of knowledge and silly anecdotes on DC history. Make sure to ask your local guide any questions you may still have about getting around DC. They are a knowledgeable resource to help you plan a next-level Urban Adventure in Washington D.C.!