Washington, D.C. offers some of the most iconic monuments, memorials, museums, and other attractions that America has to offer. If you’re visiting the nation’s capital, chances are pretty good that you’re looking forward to taking it all in. While DC’s roads can become congested, the extensive Metro (subway) system can be a great way to get around!
We’ve compiled a list of ten metro stops that you’ll want to make so that you can take in all that DC has to offer, while also cutting down on your roadway expenses.
- Smithsonian (Orange Line, Blue Line, and Silver Line)
Many of the metro stations on this list put you near Washington, D.C.’s monuments, but none are quite as impressive as the Smithsonian Station. Take the northern exit and you will be presented with a breathtaking view of the US Capitol Building and the Washington Monument as you exit directly onto the National Mall.
In addition to the views, this station gives you great access to many of the museums and galleries managed by the Smithsonian Institution, including the Freer Gallery of Art, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, National Museum of African Art, and Smithsonian Institute Building (The Castle). Cross the mall for more options including the National Museum of American History and National Museum of Natural History.
- Federal Triangle (Orange Line, Blue Line, and Silver Line)
Located at the Reagan Building, and across the street from the Old Post Office Pavilion, the area around the Federal Triangle Station is impressive. The real value in this station is its proximity to the north side of the National Mall. Located just a block from the National Mall, this station is the closest to the National Museum of American History and the National Museum of Natural History, both of which are free Smithsonian Institution museums. The station is also a short walk from The Ellipse, a large park located south of the White House.
- Gallery Place / Chinatown (Red Line, Green Line, and Yellow Line)
Located near the heart of downtown DC’s Penn Quarter, Gallery Place Station provides access to some of the area’s best restaurants, as well as the Verizon Center (home of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and the NHL’s Washington Capitals). Be sure to make the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum part of your visit. These are located just across 7th street from this station.
- Federal Center (Orange Line, Blue Line, and Silver Line)
With Federal Center Station, we’re back to the National Mall. This station, located near the east end of the Mall, is a short distance from the National Air and Space Museum, the United States Botanic Garden, and the US Capitol Building. The area is also filled with federal office buildings. While closer to other stations, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and National Gallery of Art are also nearby. (Capitol South Station and Union Station, both of which did not make this list, are within proximity of the Capitol Building and the Supreme Court.)
- McPherson Square (Orange Line, Blue Line, and Silver Line)
Most people’s immediate thought of Washington, D.C. is that it is the residence of the President of the United States of America; and McPherson Square Station is the easiest way to get a glimpse of this national icon. The Ellipse Park, just south of the White House is also nearby, and a short walk further once again brings you to the National Mall, near the Washington Monument and the Constitution Gardens.
It’s worth noting that Farragut West Station is also very close to the White House, and Red Line riders may find the Farragut North Station most convenient.
- Archives (Green Line and Yellow Line)
Located near the National Archives (home of the Constitution of the United States), Archives Station is conveniently located in Penn Quarter just a couple blocks from the National Mall, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Art. From here, it is very easy to get to most downtown DC attractions, including restaurants, and several independent museums, such as the International Spy Museum, the Crime and Punishment Museum, and the Newseum.
- Arlington National Cemetery (Blue Line)
Located across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., the Arlington Cemetery Station places you at the gates of the grounds of the nation’s most famous military cemetery. In addition to those buried in the cemetery, the grounds include the Tomb of the Unknowns, Arlington House (former home of Robert E. Lee), and several memorials. You can also walk to the nearby Iwo Jima Memorial, the war memorial commemorating the Marine Corps, and the Netherlands Carillon.
- Foggy Bottom (Orange Line, Blue Line, and Silver Line)
Located on the campus of George Washington University, Foggy Bottom Station is the closest station to the Lincoln Memorial and other attractions on the west end of the National Mall (though it is still nearly a mile away). If you are planning to catch a show at the Kennedy Center, this station provides a free shuttle.
- Woodley Park / Zoo (Red Line)
Aside from Arlington Cemetery Station, Woodley Park Station is the only station on our list that isn’t in the heart of downtown Washington, D.C. That’s because most of the attractions you’re visiting DC to see are concentrated, but there’s one location we think that you need to consider: The National Zoo. The Zoo, located in Rock Creek Park, is free, and can be tons of fun for young and old alike.
- L’Enfant Plaza (Orange Line, Blue Line, Silver Line, Green Line, and Yellow Line)
Making our way back towards the National Mall, the final station on our list is the one closest to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. But L’Enfant Station is also on the list because it is, along with the Smithsonian Station, one of the easiest places from which to get to the Jefferson Memorial and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. While it’s still a bit of a hike, the memorials are beautifully nestled on the Tidal Basin. If you’re up for a long walk, we suggest walking around the basin and visiting each of the memorials on its shores.