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short layover at Union Station

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Sep 26th, 2012, 07:44 AM
  #1
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short layover at Union Station

I will be arriving tomorrow at Union Station at 3 pm and my connecting train leaves at 10 pm. I have never been to DC. What would you recommend I use my short time to see? And how to get there. Medical issues prevent me from walking any long distances. Thanks in advance.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 08:14 AM
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The Old Town Trolley tour of DC stops at Union Station, but since it stops at 6 I'm not sure it's worth your while. Taxis are expensive and difficult to catch at Union Station. The postal museum is across the street from Union Station. At 7:30, the Trolley does a nighttime tour, but it lasts 2-1/2 hours, so it wouldn't get you back until 10pm, and if it's a few minutes late you'd have problems.

I think you have fairly limited options. Your best bet might be to take the Metro to one of the Smithsonian museums and spend a couple of hours there until the museum closes, then have a bite to eat, and wait until after dark to go back to Union Station by taxi, doing a tour that way (you might be able to get a nice drive for under $40). However, I'd wait until after rush hour to take the taxi so you don't spend all your time stuck in traffic. You should be able to store your bags for a fee if you have a valid Amtrak ticket for same-day travel.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 08:18 AM
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What constitutes a long distance? Could you visit a museum? The National Mall is very near Union Station, and you could take a taxi to the museum of your choice. Go to the Smithsonian website to see what's available. They're all free. You could return to Union Station for dinner.

Or you could go to the Phillips Collection in Dupont Circle, by taxi or Metro, and have dinner in the neighborhood.

Really, a lot depends on your interests and just how far you can walk.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 09:30 AM
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I could walk a mile to a mile and a half without a problem. One of the museums would be great. Thanks so much for your input.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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Taxis are NOT difficult to get at Union Station IMO, especially during daylight hours. But you should also know that there is a Metro stop at Union Station as someone above mentioned and the entrance to it is via escalator.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 10:13 AM
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I would definitely head to the National Mall, either by metro at Union Station or by taxi. That will give you maximum museum bang for your short visit. And a view of the US Capitol and the Washington Monument. If you're more interested in art than history and technology, make sure you look at a metro map to get the station closest to the National Gallery of Art.

>>Taxis are expensive and difficult to catch at Union Station.<<

I've never had trouble getting a cab at Union Station during regular business hours. And DC cabs are metered. I also disagree that the OP should necessarily wait until dark or after rush hour to try and get back to Union Station. Even in the heart of rush hour he/she would have plenty of time to get there from the National Mall. It's a very short distance.

Even if you aren't an art aficionado, the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum are routinely open until 7pm so you could visit after the Mall museums close at 5 or 5:30. They are spitting distance from the Gallery Place metro and the neighborhood, Penn Quarter, has many interesting restaurant options up and down the price scale. That neighborhood won't take you farther away from getting back to Union Station. Easy to catch a cab in general from the street, but if in doubt go across the street from the Portrait Gallery and catch one in front of the Hotel Monaco.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 10:51 AM
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One quick note: the museums along the Mall are very large, and therefore the distances between them can be long for someone with walking issues. That's why I suggest planning in advance which one or two museums you'd really like to see, and perhaps cabbing from Union Station just to save steps, although the Metro is very easy and convenient, too.

Agree about the Portrait Gallery and Penn Quarter!
NewbE is offline  
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Sep 26th, 2012, 11:46 AM
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I suggested waiting until after dark to return to Union Station because it gives the OP a chance to drive by the monuments at night, and if the OP takes a tour by taxi rather than just a ride to the station, then traffic is an issue. I'll stand by that recommendation.

But to me, walking more than a mile doesn't indicate mobility issues, so I'd recommend the Metro and then a walk around the Mall hitting more than one museum if possible.
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Sep 26th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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I agree with Doug. The Mall is spectacular at night and in twilight.

I would try to wind up at the Foggy Bottom Metro station at dusk and take a taxi back to Union Station. Tell the driver you want to drive past the Lincoln Memorial and down the Mall rather than the shortest route. It probably won't be the first time he has done it.

There are lots of places to eat at Union Station, and you will have plenty of time to eat there.
Ackislander is offline  
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Sep 26th, 2012, 12:19 PM
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I just reread the OP, and I agree, since lonetree has never been to DC, an evening cab ride around the monuments is a must, even it's brief.
NewbE is offline  
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Sep 26th, 2012, 12:48 PM
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>>I suggested waiting until after dark to return to Union Station because it gives the OP a chance to drive by the monuments at night, and if the OP takes a tour by taxi rather than just a ride to the station, then traffic is an issue. I'll stand by that recommendation. <<

Apologies, Doug, I didn't read carefully enough to see you were talking about doing a taxi tour of the monuments. Weather contingent, that is a good idea.

>>I would try to wind up at the Foggy Bottom Metro station at dusk and take a taxi back to Union Station.<<

Why would the OP be going to Foggy Bottom?
obxgirl is offline  
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Sep 26th, 2012, 02:32 PM
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the monument
la90210 is offline  
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Sep 27th, 2012, 03:36 AM
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obx, I assume that the OP would not want to do the "monument by taxi" tour as a round trip from Union Station (I am cheap) and s/he has a fair amount of time to kill. I also assume that the OP shares my horror of backtracking. Therefore, what is the closest Metro stop to the Lincoln Memorial? Foggy Bottom? Is it easy to get a taxi there? Yes. Can you take a taxi from there to Union Station along the Mall and see all the lighted monuments? Yes, and the Kennedy Center and the White House, too.

If the OP is not cheap, doesn't have time to kill (late train arrival, and doesn't mind backtracking, the answer might have been different.
Ackislander is offline  
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Sep 27th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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What ever you do, please have dinner before you return to Union Station. IMHO, the restaurants there are either expensive or garbage.
gardendiva is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2012, 09:29 AM
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If you can walk a 1-1.5 miles total, I agree you need to plan which museum you want to see, especially since you are also walking and standing inside the museum too.

I wasn't there at dinner time, but I did look over the Union Station food court. If you want to maximize your time seeing things in DC, I WOULD eat at the food court because presumably you want to be back in the station and collect your luggage before the train rolls right in. It may not be the best food, but my preference is to see everything I can.
5alive is online now  
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Sep 28th, 2012, 10:11 AM
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I just remembered a pub directly accross from Union Station. The food was good but it may be a bit crowded in the evening. I beleive it was called the Dubliner.
gardendiva is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2012, 01:51 PM
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Lots of good and interesting suggestions for others who will pull up this thread but the OP said he/she was going to be in DC yesterday.

>I also assume that the OP shares my horror of backtracking.<<

Ackislander, While I sort of understand what you are saying, I think it's odd advice to give a first time visitor with very limited time to see a few city sights. Horses for courses.
obxgirl is offline  
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Sep 28th, 2012, 02:26 PM
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I need to read the dates better. I wonder how her trip went?
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