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Car Rental in Washington DC
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Car Rental in Washington, D.C.: Driving the Nation’s Capital
Exploring the District of Columbia, the seat of the USA’s government and home to some of the nation’s best museums and most impressive memorials, is a must for any visitor to the US. While most navigate the city by metro, renting a car is an excellent way to experience the city like the locals do. Don’t just visit the National Mall while in the nation’s capital, but head out to Adams Morgan for great nightlife and to DuPont Circle for some great neighborhood gems, tour Arlington and the quaint streets of Georgetown, and make the most with great food and culture in Penn Quarter.
The most beautiful time to visit D.C. is from April to mid-May, when the cherry tress throughout the city begin to blossom. Early fall is also a great time to enjoy the capital’s outdoors. Even winters are fairly mild in Washington, D.C., with the occasional show-stopping snowstorm. In fact, the most important element to consider when planning a trip to D.C. is that political events may crowd up the streets and hike up hotel and other service prices.
The native language of the United States is English and the currency is the US dollar. Currency exchange is highly available at airports and popular tourist destinations, and credit cards are accepted at the vast majority of businesses.
Washington, D.C. is nestled between Maryland and Virginia, and if you’re flying, you’ll arrive either at the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport 30 miles northeast of the capital outside Baltimore, Maryland or at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport or Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia. These are all great places from which to rent your car for your visit to Washington, though they each offer public transportation into the city itself, if you prefer to pick up your car later. Car rental is also available in the District of Columbia on most major roadways, especially along K Street NW, just north of the White House.
Driving in Washington, D.C.
Most visitors head to the National Mall, the two-mile strip of gardens, museums (most of them free!), and monuments, and while a visit here is well worth your while, automobile hire is an excellent way to see more of this city and district in one. Get most intimate with D.C. by exploring the length and breadth of its streets, and book your car now.
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Washington, D.C.
Typical Speed Limits
- On interstate highways: 55 miles per hour (circa 85 km/h)
- On all other roads: 25 miles per hour (circa 40 km/h)
- On alleys and in school zones: 15 miles per hour (circa 24 km/h)
- Speed limits are enforced by camera, so be sure to drive the speed limit even when there are no police in sight.
- Street traffic will be especially bad in the hours around 8am and 5pm.
- Most street parking in Washington, D.C. is limited to two hours, whether an additional fee is required or not. Many streets allow unlimited parking between the hours of 10pm and 7am, so be alert for signs, and follow them exactly; they’ll be enforced exactly as well, and receiving a parking ticket is a likelihood for any infringements throughout the city! There are numerous parking garages all over the city, particularly near metro stops. For day visits to downtown D.C., consider parking in the city’s residential areas and commuting in via the metro.
- An international driver’s permit is required to drive in Washington, D.C., in addition to your domestic driver’s license.
- The road between the Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia and the capital is tolled, so ask your rental company about EZ Pass to make your travel between both sites smoother. The MD 200 connector road north of Washington, D.C. is also tolled.
- While the minimum driving age in New Jersey is 16, you will have to be at least 21 years of age to rent a car. Drivers under 25 are likely to be charged extra, if they are permitted to rent at all.
- 38 nationalities can enter the United States as tourists without applying for a visa, though if you are among these nationalities, you are still required to fill out the ESTA in advance. Visit esta.us for more information. Everyone who enters the United States will be fingerprinted and biometrically photographed upon entry. If your nationality is not included on the visa-waiver program list, you will be required to apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa in advance of your arrival.
There are some beautiful scenic drives that will help you get acquainted with the city along Pennsylvania Avenue, Rock Creek Parkway, Reservoir Road, Embassy Row, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.