Everything You Need for a Racecation in the Nation's Capital

Whether you're planning to run in the world-famous Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C. or the newer Rock 'N' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon, we have you covered.

Besides being a fabulous place to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles, there are a ton of things to see and do in Washington, D.C. before and after race day. The National Air and Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center is a must, as is the Washington Monument. Racers looking for a little action once the sun goes down will find it in the Georgetown District. Or if sightseeing is your thing, the City Sights Double Decker Bus Tour will show you all the major sites of the city without taking a toll on your legs. If you are a museum buff, then take the Red Loop. If neighborhoods are your thing, than stick to the Yellow Loop.

To help you experience the best Washington, D.C. has to offer—with the least amount of stress and strain—we've called upon our Racertrips™ Washington, D.C. Ambassadors to answer your marathon FAQs and to recommend their favorite sites, their top restaurants and their go-to hotel accommodations.

This is your custom-tailored Washington, D.C. Marathon Travel Guide. Your Racecation Starts Here.

Washington, D.C. General Marathon FAQs

The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, also known as National Airport, is the closest airport to downtown D.C. At just 4 miles away, it is the most convenient airport for those staying downtown. However, it might not be the most economical or even feasible depending on your travel plans, the city of departure, or airline flown. The runway is short, so it can only accommodate domestic flights or those going to/from the Caribbean and Canada.

By Metro

Taking the Metro to and from National Airport is easy and affordable, and the airport is served by both the Yellow and Blue lines. When leaving the airport, follow the signs to the enclosed pedestrian bridges, which will take you to the station. (Note: If you fly into National on Southwest, it's a long but doable walk to the Metro station.) Outside of the entrance, there are machines to purchase a SmartTrip Metro fare card, and there are maps around to help you determine which line to transfer to or which stop you need for your hotel.

The Metro hours run from 5 am to 11:30 pm Monday to Thursday, 5 am to 1 am Friday, 7 am to 1 am on Saturday, and 7 am to 11 pm on Sunday. Fares range from $2 to $6, and they vary depending on how far you're going. Fares are usually cheaper between 9:30 am and 3 pm and after 7 pm. If you plan to use the metro multiple times in a day, there are all-day cards available for $14.75. Once your card is empty, you can refill it at the designated machines at each station.

As with many cities, you have to use your fare card to enter and to exit the station, so keep it handy and make sure you have enough money on it to cover your fare as you exit.

By Shuttle

If you have a large group or are planning to arrive very late at night when there may not be as many taxis or Lyft/Uber rides, the SuperShuttle or GO Airport Shuttle are great options that you can pre-book for pickup from the airport to your exact destination. They are both available for booking 24 hours a day and are available as shared or private rides anywhere within the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area. You can book SuperShuttle online or by calling 1-800-BLUEVAN. You can also book the GO Airport Shuttle online or by calling 773-363-0001

By Bus

The Metrobus operates a service between Terminal B at the National Airport and Crystal City, Pentagon, Arlington Cemetery, and downtown Washington, D.C. However, the route is only in service on Saturday and Sunday mornings from 5:50 am to 8:00 am. For more information, check out the WMATA Trip Planner and see if it makes sense for your travel plans.

By Lyft/Uber

Lyft/Uber service National Airport, but they both have designated locations where they can pick up passengers, which you will see once you begin to request a ride in the app.

Currently, the pickup zones for Lyft and Uber are at the lower level outside of baggage claim at the median. You'll need to cross the street where the taxis line up and wait on the median next to the private car pickup.

By Taxi

If you prefer to take a cab, you'll find them right outside of baggage claim on the lower level. As you're leaving the terminal, look for signs to "Ground Transport" and/or "Taxis." Once outside, you'll see where all the cabs are picking up passengers. There is usually at least a little bit of a line, although it can move quickly.

Washington Dulles International Airport is located about 26 miles west of downtown Washington DC. Depending on traffic, this can take as little as 40 minutes, or it can take much longer. While this is not the closest airport, it is the most common for those traveling from international destinations.

By Metro

The Silver Line train will eventually take riders directly to and from Washington Dulles International Airport, but that is not set to be completed until 2020. The current route you need to take is to hop on the Dulles Airport Silver Line Express, which will take you on about a 10-minute drive to the Wiehle-Reston East Station. Here, you can transfer to the Silver line, which will take you directly downtown. The Silver Line Express is $5 per person. This is the recommended option during rush hour.

The Metro hours run from 5 am to 11:30 pm Monday to Thursday, 5 am to 1 am Friday, 7 am to 1 am on Saturday, and 7 am to 11 pm on Sunday. Fares range from $2 to $6, and they vary depending on how far you're going. Fares are usually cheaper between 9:30 am and 3 pm and after 7 pm. If you plan to use the metro multiple times in a day, there are all-day cards available for $14.75. Once your card is empty, you can refill it at the designated machines at each station.

As with many cities, you have to use your fare card to enter and to exit the station, so keep it handy and make sure you have enough money on it to cover your fare as you exit.

By Shuttle

If you have a large group or are planning to arrive very late at night when there may not be as many taxis or Lyft/Uber rides, the SuperShuttle or the GO Airport Shuttle are both great options that you can pre-book for pickup from the airport to your exact destination. They are both available for booking 24 hours a day and are available as shared or private rides anywhere within the Washington DC Metropolitan area. You can book SuperShuttle online or by calling 1-800-BLUEVAN. You can also book the GO Airport Shuttle online or by calling 773-363-0001.

By Bus

The 5A route travels from Washington Dulles Airport to downtown DC for a cost of $7. Making only three stops along the way, this could be a great and affordable option, though it might not be the best option during rush hour. Most travelers staying in the downtown area will likely get off at the second stop, which is Rosslyn Metro Station. The buses come on average every 30 to 60 minutes depending on day and time of day, and the total trip takes about 50 minutes. For more information, check out the WMATA Trip Planner and see if it makes sense for your travel plans.

By Lyft/Uber

Lyft/Uber services Washington Dulles International Airport, but they both have designated locations where they can pick up passengers, which you will see once you begin to request a ride in the app.

Currently, the pickup zones for Lyft and Uber are at Door 4 at Arrivals.

By Taxi

If you prefer to take a cab, you'll find them right outside of baggage claim on the lower level. As you're leaving the terminal, look for signs to "Ground Transport" and/or "Taxis." Once outside, you'll see where all the cabs are picking up passengers. There is usually at least a little bit of a line, although it can move quickly.

Baltimore-Washington International Airport is not the most convenient or even the most-traveled of the three airports servicing the Washington, D.C. area, but it may be the best bargain for those looking for lower cost flight options. It is located about 45 miles north of downtown D.C. If driving, this can take well over an hour during rush hour. Fortunately, there are still great mass transit options for those flying into BWI.

By MARC/Amtrak

There are two train options for those traveling from BWI to downtown D.C.: MARC and Amtrak, both of which depart from the same station.

There is a shuttle that stops at each airline counter check-in and takes you to the MARC/Amtrak station. It is about 12 minutes with four stops, and it is free. The shuttles run 24 hours a day and depart every 6-8 minutes, except between 1 am and 5 am when they run every 25 minutes.

For those taking MARC, there are machines at the station where you can purchase tickets, which are $7 for a one-way ride. You will take the Penn Line, which will take you right to Union Station in downtown D.C. The trip will take about 35 minutes.

The first train departs from BWI at 4:40 am on weekdays and runs about every 20 minutes until the late afternoon, when it begins to run hourly until the last train at 10:30 pm. On Saturdays, trains run from 9 am to 10 pm, each hour or so throughout the day. On Sundays, only six trains depart from BWI to Union Station.

For those taking Amtrak, the train also departs to Union Station. The main difference with the Amtrak is that it is faster at 21-27 minutes, but it is also more expensive, with tickets ranging from $15 - $45. You can purchase a basic, non-refundable ticket, a refundable ticket or business/first class ticket.

The Amtrak trains begin running at 3 am and run every 10-60 minutes throughout the day, depending on when you are traveling. The last train departs at 10 pm. Be sure to check ahead of time if the train you plan to catch allows for checked bags because some do not.

By Shuttle

If you have a large group or are planning to arrive very late at night when there may not be as many taxis or Lyft/Uber rides, the SuperShuttle or the GO Airport Shuttle are both great options that you can pre-book for pickup from the airport to your exact destination. They are both available for booking 24 hours a day and and are available as shared or private rides anywhere within the Washington DC Metropolitan area. You can book SuperShuttle online or by calling 1-800-BLUEVAN. You can also book the GO Airport Shuttle online or by calling 773-363-0001.

By Bus

Taking the Metrobus from Washington, D.C. to BWI is not the best option because it is very time consuming and slow. You would first need to take the Metro from Union Station to Greenbelt Station, which is about a 30-minute trip. From there, you would need to transfer to the Metrobus to the BWI Airport, which is another 35 minutes.

The cost of the bus is $6 for a one-way ride, and the buses depart each hour between 6 am and 9 pm. There is no service on the weekends.

By Lyft/Uber

Lyft/Uber service BWI, but they both have designated locations where they can pick up passengers, which you will see once you begin to request a ride in the app.

Currently, the pickup zones for Lyft and Uber are at the departures area, and you will be asked to verify which door you are at.

By Taxi

If you prefer to take a cab, you'll find them right outside of baggage claim on the lower level. As you're leaving the terminal, look for signs to "Ground Transport" and/or "Taxis." Once outside, you'll see where all the cabs are picking up passengers. There is usually at least a little bit of a line, although it can move quickly.

Need something last minute? There are several running stores in Washington, D.C.:

Pacers Running

Potomac River Running Store

Georgetown Running Company

Fleet Feet Sports

New Balance

Finish Line

Nike

Did we miss one? Email us to let us know.

Marine Corps Marathon FAQs

The Details

The Marine Corps Marathon Health & Fitness Expo is a two-day event where you will pick up your packet and bib for race day. There are also hundreds of vendors on site showcasing the latest in running gear, apparel, nutrition, technology, equipment and more.

Gaylord National Resort
National Harbor
165 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD 20745

Friday, Oct 26: 10 am to 8 pm
Saturday, Oct. 27: 8 am to 6 pm

If at all possible, we recommend going early on Friday to avoid the crowds, to avoid traffic, to save your legs and to get the best selection of goods from the vendors.

How to Get There — Avoid Driving

The MCM (Marine Corps Marathon) recommends avoiding driving to reduce congestion. If you have access to a car and are staying in Arlington or downtown D.C., you may choose to drive because National Harbor is a bit out of the way. There are three parking garages at National Harbor, as well as a garage at the Gaylord National Resort. The prices vary but are around $5 for up to 2 hours, $13 up to 4 hours and $20 for any time after that. There is also valet parking available, or you can pre-pay for parking online.

How to Get There — Free Shuttles from Metro Stations

The MCM also provides free shuttle buses to the expo from two locations:

The shuttles will run from 8:30 am to 10 pm on Friday and 7 am to 9 pm on Saturday.

To avoid rush hour traffic, we recommend going as early as possible on Friday. If you simply cannot go Friday, we recommend going early on Saturday.

How to Get There — By Train or CTA

Take either the blue line to the Van Dorn Station or the yellow line to the Eisenhower station and take a free shuttle to National Harbor.

How to Get There — Bike Sharing and E-Scooters

There are plenty of additional transportation options in D.C. with the popularity of e-scooters and bike sharing. If you plan to travel less than 2 miles or so, the e-scooters can be a good option. However, if you need to go more than a couple of miles, bike sharing is going to be the best option. The most popular is Capital Bikeshare, which is metro D.C.'s bike-share program. There are about 4,300 of these bikes around D.C., with a lot being around the Metro stations. It works like most other bike share programs, where you need to join the app or purchase a card at a kiosk. Prices start at $2 per ride. The other bike share option in D.C. is Jump. The difference with Jump is that there are no specific docks for the bikes. They simply need to be locked with their built-in U-locks after each ride.

The scooter options are much more varied, with Lime, Bird, Lyft, Spin and Skip all being options. Each is very much the same and sits in the same price range. They go on average about 15 miles per hour. If you already use a scooter company in your city, stick with that one for convenience. However, signing up for those who are new to scooters is very easy and just requires a smartphone with a camera.

How to Get There — By Cab, Lyft/Uber

Don't want to try out the trains, shuttle or bikes? Grab a cab, Lyft or Uber to get you to the expo. Let someone else worry about finding the right entrance!

Also known as the Marathon of Monuments, the Marine Corps Marathon (MCM) snakes through some of the most iconic American landmarks in the United States. Runners start in Arlington, VA between the Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon. After that, you'll run through historic Georgetown, past the Lincoln Memorial, under the Arlington Memorial Bridge, along the Potomac River, past the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the FDR Memorial, and that's just in the first half of the race! The most important mile in the first half of the race is the Blue Mile, which features the 225 Faces of the Fallen, posters of fallen soldiers as a tribute to those who have lost their lives for this country.

The second half of the race runs alongside the National Mall, multiple museums, the U.S. Capitol, and the Holocaust museum. This is before runners need to "Beat the Bridge:" They must arrive at Mile 20 and the 14th Street Bridge by 1:15 pm to make the cutoff and finish the race. The race ends back near the Arlington Cemetery at the Marine Corps War Memorial.

Download the Official Marine Corps Marathon Course Map

Take a Look at the Interactive Course Map

Racertrips Tip: There are 11 water stations with water and Gatorade, 10 aid stations and three food stations, so there is ample nutrition and hydration options for those deciding what to carry during the race.

Traveling with family and friends who want to cheer you on? Here are our Racertrips Ambassadors' tips for the best places to spectate on race day. The Marine Corps Marathon has five key spectator viewing areas, each of which can be accessible by Metro or even walking.

Racertrips™ Tip: Tell your runners ahead of time where you'll be watching for them, such as near major intersections or mile markers, and on which side of the street you'll be standing. Knowing your runner's pace is also important so you can make sure you arrive at the designated area with enough time to get your signs and cheers ready for your runner!

The Start and Finish Lines

For the Marine Corps Marathon, the start and finish are actually fun places to cheer and to be part of the overall race festivities. At the starting line, be sure to watch the opening ceremonies and catch the elite runners taking their start. It might not be the best place to watch your runner, but it's worth partaking in the activities. At the finish line, there are bleacher seats that allow for a better view of each runner making their final push through the finish. This might be a great place to catch a photo of your runner at their most exciting point of the race. From here, you can reunite with your runner at the Finish Festival in Rosslyn.

Miles 10 and 16

After you watch the runners get their start, take a nice walk over to the Lincoln Memorial. You can do a little sightseeing while you wait for your runner to arrive, and then you'll be able to see them at both Mile 10 and Mile 16.

Miles 17-19

From the Lincoln Memorial, walk toward the Washington Monument and the National Mall. Here you can find the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, the National Gallery of Art, as well as the runners at Miles 17-19.

Miles 22-23

After you've seen your runner at the National Mall, hop on the Metro at Smithsonian Station and head to Crystal City Station. Here you will be able to find your runner during Miles 22 and 23, and you'll be able to experience the Crystal City Family Festival. This festival is a family-friendly spectator area that also features live music and lots of fun activities.

Observation Deck

For those who prefer to view the marathon in style, the CEB Tower Observation Deck will be hosting a VIP viewing experience, including in-and-out access from 7 am to 1 pm, breakfast and lunch (made to order), and a selection of drinks including juice, coffee, soda, beer, wine and signature cocktails. The deck offers unparalleled views of nearly the entire marathon, and the building is right next to the Finish Festival, making it an easy walk to both the start and finish line.

Additional Tips

As always, make sure to respect the course by staying outside of the designated running areas. There will be Marines and law enforcement present to help assist and guide spectators, so please listen to what they have to say and their direction. If you plan to ride the Metro during the day, speed up the process by purchasing a day pass. The Metro opens at 6 am on race morning. If you need more information, there is an MCM Info tent at the finish area that can provide the necessary information throughout the race. There will also be a medical information tent there as well.

For those who want to use technology to track the race, be sure to download the MCM app, where you can see updated split times and live results.

In the case that you don't see your runner cross the finish line, you'll want to set up a meetup spot beforehand.

The Marine Corps Marathon provides an official runner reunite area called the Family Linkup Area at the Finish Festival. The area is marked off with every letter of the alphabet, so in theory, if your last name begins with an "M," you meet near the "M" sign. However, you've just run 26.2 miles. You're most likely tired, sore, stiff and any number of things and may not want to walk the full distance of the meet-up area. We recommend picking a letter toward the beginning of the alphabet and meeting your friends and family there.

The Linkup Area is designated by 13-foot-tall yellow towers which each list a letter of the alphabet, so they are hard to miss.

Rock 'N' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon FAQs

The Details

The Health & Fitness Expo is held at the DC Armory:

DC Armory
2001 E. Capitol Street, SE
Washington DC, 20003

Thursday, March 7: 12 pm to 7 pm
Friday, March 8: 10 am to 7 pm

If at all possible, we recommend going on Thursday to avoid the crowds, to avoid traffic, to save your legs and to get the best selection of goods from the vendors.

How to Get There — Avoid Driving

Because the Armory is easily accessible by train, we recommend not driving to avoid congestion. However, if you need to drive,  give yourself plenty of time to navigate through traffic. On-site parking is provided at RFK Stadium Lot 8. You will need to enter this lot from Independence Avenue SE. From there, the Armory is a short walk.

How to Get There — By Train or CTA

Take either the blue, orange or silver line to Stadium-Armory Station. From there, the Armory is directly across the street and very convenient.

How to Get There — Bike Sharing and E-Scooters

There are plenty of additional transportation options in D.C. with the popularity of e-scooters and bike sharing. If you plan to travel less than two miles or so, the e-scooters can be a good option. However, if you need to bike more than a couple of miles, bike sharing is going to be the best option. The most popular is Capital Bikeshare, which is metro D.C.'s bike-share program. There are about 4,300 of these bikes around D.C., with a lot being around the Metro stations. It works like most other bike share programs, where you need to join the app or purchase a card at a kiosk. Prices start at $2 per ride. The other bike share operating in D.C. is Jump. The difference with Jump is that there are no specific docks for the bikes. They simply need to be locked with their built-in U-locks after each ride.

The scooter options are much more varied, with Lime, Bird, Lyft, Spin and Skip all being options. Each is very much the same and sits in the same price range. They go on average about 15 miles per hour. If you already use a scooter company in your city, stick with that one for convenience. However, signing up for those who are new to scooters is very easy and just requires a smartphone with a camera.

How to Get There — By Cab, Lyft/Uber

Don't want to try out the trains or bikes? Grab a cab, Lyft or Uber to get you to the expo. Let someone else worry about finding the right entrance!

The Marathon

The 2019 United Airlines Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in Washington, D.C. will feature a new route, with a similar front half but different back half than last year. The course begins on Constitution Avenue NW near Downtown and finishes in front of the DC Armory and RFK Stadium. The course peaks at around 200 feet of elevation, which occurs at about three different points of the race, Miles 7, 15.5 and 23. The course has a time limit of 5.5 hours, which equals 12:36 per mile pace.

View the Official United Airlines Rock 'N' Roll Marathon Washington, D.C. Course Map

The Half Marathon

The 2019 United Airlines Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon is also a point-to-point race, which starts at Constitution Avenue & 14th Street NW and ends at RFK Stadium. The course has a time limit of 4 hours.

View the Official Half Marathon Course Map

Racertrips™ Tip: The Rock 'N' Roll Marathon series sells packages of races for a reduced price. If you think you might want to run multiple Rock 'N' Roll races, including half marathons, 10ks and 5ks.

Traveling with family and friends who want to cheer you on? Here are our Racertrips Ambassadors' tips for the best places to spectate on race day. The Washington, D.C. Rock 'N' Roll Marathon has a few key spectator viewing areas, most of which can be accessible by Metro, which begins running at 7 am the morning of the race. Since there are so many road closures for this race, do not plan on driving, but rather take the Metro around.

Racertrips™ Tip: Tell your runners ahead of time where you'll be watching for them, such as near major intersections or mile markers, and on which side of the street you'll be standing. Knowing your runner's pace is also important so you can make sure you arrive at the designated area with enough time to get your signs and cheers ready for your runner!

The Start and Finish Lines

The Rock 'N' Roll Marathon begins at Constitution Avenue NW and 14th Street in downtown D.C. and being there for the start of the race is a great way to cheer on your runner. Make sure to cheer them on from the west side of the National Mall, and then check out the Washington Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and White House before catching them at the next viewpoint. The race finishes at RFK Stadium, where there will be a Finish Line Festival. Make sure to track your runner during the race so you can be there in time to watch them cross the finish line and then meet at the pre-determined meeting area post-race.

Miles 1-5

In the first five miles of the race, the best place to view the runners, aside from the starting line, is at the Dumbarton Bridge and Q Street. Afterward, jump on the Red line at Dupont Circle Station and head to the next viewing location.

Miles 6-10

At mile 6.2, stop at Open City Coffee House, located at 2331 Calvert Street NW for a quick cup of coffee and another opportunity to view the runners. It's located near the Woodly Park-Zoo Metro Station and you can take the Red line from there. Another option is Bison Bend/Howard University at mile 8, located at 5th and Harvard Street NW and near the Columbia Heights Metro line, where you can take the Yellow or Green lines. If you prefer to view runners at mile 9.5, the best place to do so is North Capitol at North Capitol and R Street NW and near the New York Ave/Florida Ave/Gallaudent University Metro Station and the Red line.

Miles 13-22

Mile 13.7 offers another great viewing point at D Street SE and 3rd Street SE. Watch the runners hit the halfway mark and then jump on the Blue or Orange lines at Capitol South Metro Station. Mile 14.8 also offers a viewing point at M Street and South Capitol Street SW near the Navy Yard Metro Station which houses the Green line. And finally, to watch runners in their final four miles, head to Mile 22 at Randle Circle on Minnesota Avenue SE. Once you've seen your runner, get on the Benning Road Metro Station and jump on the Blue line headed towards RFK Stadium and the finish line of the race.

Additional Tips

As always, make sure to respect the course by staying outside of the designated running areas. If you plan to ride the Metro during the day, speed up the process by purchasing a day pass. The Metro opens at 7 am on race morning. The Finish Line Festival will have a Family Reunion Area with tall signs clearly marked with letters of the alphabet. Be sure you discuss with your runner before the race which letter you plan to meet under so you know where to find them.

For those who want to use technology to track the race, be sure to download the RNR app, where you can track your runner!

Just in case you don't see your runner cross the finish line, you'll want to set up a meetup spot beforehand.

The Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in Washington, D.C. sets up a Family Reunion Area at the Finish Line Festival for runners and spectators to meet up after the race. The Family Reunion Area contains large signs that each has a different letter of the alphabet (from A to Z). Runners and their spectators should designate which letter they plan to meet at once they have finished the race.

 

Meet our Washington, D.C. Ambassadors

Robyn Gault
Robyn is a local expert in the Washington, D.C. running scene, having owned a running store in the area for more than 13 years. She and her husband recently...
Darren Eaton
Darren has been running for 36 years and has run every type of race from 5Ks to ultramarathons. He has run the Marine Corps Marathon a total of eight times.
Jackie Cular
Jackie has run many 5Ks, 10Ks, a couple 10-mile races and a total of five half marathons. She enjoys running in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Richmond.
Anthony Ashe
Anthony Ashe is in his early 40s and has been running marathons for over a decade. He has called Washington, D.C. his home for more than 20 years, although he has run marathons all over the country.
Phoebe Mortensen
Phoebe has run multiple half marathons, a total of five marathons and even an ultramarathon. When she's not running, she is a technology and art teacher...
Kam Yee
Kam started running marathons in 2008, with the Marine Corps Marathon being his first one! After that, he was hooked, completing four more marathons...
Robert David Sholtis
Bob, a former Marine, ran the Marine Corps Marathon as his first marathon in 2010, and he's run it three more times since then. He's run a total of 10 marathons and at least 15 ultras...
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