I spent five-and-a-half years working as a contractor in the Pentagon, while my wife maintained our home here in Fleming Island. I made it home for all but one Jaguars regular season home game during that stretch. Along with my other frequent weekend trips, and fair knowledge of the area, I want to offer some basic travel and logistical information about the D.C. area. I hope this will be helpful for the BCB and other fans making the trip up for the game on September 14.
FedEX Field, the home of the Redskins, is located in Hyatsville, near Landover, Maryland. The stadium is about 11 miles from downtown Washington. The stadium is also 15 miles from Washington-Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia; 27 miles from Baltimore-Washington International Airport outside Baltimore; and 45 miles from Dulles International Airport in Sterling, Virginia.
Parking at FedEx is obscenely expensive. I heard of fees as high as $40-50 for a spot on game day, and most spots are likely taken by season ticket owners. Getting in and out of the lots at the stadium is a tedious process (which makes you really appreciate parking near the Bank). If you don't have to drive to the game, don't.
A popular way of travel to the stadium is via the Washington Metro. The Morgan Boulevard Metro Stop is near the stadium, and though it's a bit of a hike from the station to the stadium (along a busy road), it's worth it to avoid parking costs and hassles. The Metro Blue and Orange lines make stops there all day on Sundays. At one time, the Metro system had shuttle buses similar to the JTA shuttle service here at home, but I recall that that service was discontinued because they weren't permitted to use federal or state-funded bus service for game shuttles. You should verify this on the WMATA web site, which has all the train and bus information you need. Except for the remote outskirts of the D.C. metropolitan area, train and bus service is plentiful.Travel To and Fro
Three options are available for flying into Washington: Washington Reagan National (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia; Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) near Baltimore and Dulles International (IAD) in Sterling, Virginia. There are daily non-stop flights to all three from Jacksonville. Most of my experience is with USAirways into DCA and Southwest into BWI. Traveling to and from Dulles is a long trip, so I would avoid doing it unless you have transportation arranged in advance, or maybe friends to stay with (in the nearly six years I worked up there, I never flew in or out of Dulles). BWI isn't a terrible alternative, since there are a lot of great hotels near the airport. But in that area, unless you have a rental car, you're not going to be near too much unless you take a commuter train into Baltimore.
For me, the best option would be DCA. USAirways has five non-stop flights in and out of DCA daily. The outbound flights usually run about $100 one way for the morning flights (the evening flights are more expensive). Returning on a weekday is cheaper than Sunday all day (currently $175 one-way). Two Monday morning flights are $100, and if you can wait until Tuesday, all flights are that fare all day. (Please note that all these fare are subject to change, so keep looking). USAirways usually flies the Embraer 170 or 175, which means 80-90 passengers per flight. The planes are a bit close in seating (three across in coach), but not totally cramped, and the trip up and back is fast, usually only about 90 minutes.
The other advantages to DCA are cheap and plentiful car rentals at the airport, lots of decent hotels a shuttle ride away in Crystal City, and the convenience of a Metro station right at the airport.
Washington is a weekday town. The cost of everything rises on Monday, so coming up for a weekend can be done relatively cheaply, considering where you are. Hotels are much less expensive from Friday night through Sunday, so make sure you get out of town by Monday. Rental cars tend to be cheap because there's no politicians and their staffs in town to rent them. You can save some money on hotels if you stay at a place away from the city, and out a bit further into Virginia or Maryland. For example, you could stay out in the Dunn Loring-Tyson's Corner area at a number of nice hotels, and be near enough to the Orange line to take the train to the game on Sunday.
The other advantage to DCA is the Metro. The Blue line runs in and out of the DCA station and the area near the airport (specifically Crystal City), so should you choose to use that to go to the stadium, you have a direct line. It's a long train ride out there, so prepare to leave with enough time to spare.
The Crystal City area near DCA is also chock full of hotels and restaurants. Along Crystal Drive and 23rd Street off Jefferson Davis Highway (U.S.1), you'll find a wide variety of eateries. And since this is a sports trip, 23rd Street hosts two great sports bars, Tortoise And Hare (warning: this is a big Steelers bar) and the giant Crystal City Sports Pub right up the block. The latter is a three story sports heaven, but it will be packed on Saturday, so be warned. Great place for college football and just hanging out.
If you don't mind a car ride or bus ride into Arlington, pay a visit to P. Brennan's Irish Pub, located on Columbia Pike, just off Walter Reed Drive. This bar was in the last neighborhood I lived in up there, and it was my regular Sunday haunt for Jaguar road games on Sundays when I didn't come home. Lots of TVs, all kinds of sports on Saturday, a great staff and very good food. If you see a genuine Irish mate named Eoghan (pronounced "Owen") tending bar, tell him you know Joe, the Jaguar fan from Florida. He always had a stool for me at the bar.
Seeing The Sights
If you decide you want to spend a day seeing some of the sights in Washington, here are a few tips. First, forget the White House, since tours are currently shut down. You can actually spend an entire day visiting the attractions along the National Mall, which stretches from the Lincoln Memorial down to the Capitol. The Lincoln Memorial end of the Mall has enough to keep you walking for a good part of the day (please wear very comfortable shoes...trust me on this). If you start at the Washington Monument (just reopened after the 2011 earthquake) and follow the walkway on either side, you can visit all the war memorials (WWII, Vietnam, Korea), the Martin Luther King Memorial, and, of course, the breathtaking Lincoln Memorial. From behind Lincoln, you can walk down to the Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial. Or you can walk across the Potomac along the Memorial Bridge to Arlington National Cemetery.
One visit I would hope you all can try to make is to the Pentagon September 11 Memorial. This site is close to my heart because I served there as a docent (guide) volunteer while I worked at the Pentagon. Of all the things I did while living in that region, I miss my time there the most. I got to know some wonderful folks on the Memorial foundation (many family members of the victims) and met people from all over the world at the Memorial site. You can get there from Arlington Cemetery by taking the Metro from the Cemetery's station one stop to the Pentagon station. Exit the station and follow the sings around the building to the Memorial site. I promise you will be moved by the beauty of the site and the story of its design.
If you go up the Mall towards the Capitol, you'll pass a number of the Smithsonian's various museums. Each of them is expansive, and you could kill an entire day in the National Gallery of Art alone. You can finish that end of the Mall with a visit to the Capitol and the Supreme Court.
While visiting the city, you can pay a visit to some of the great neighborhoods. The music scene is hopping along U Street, and there's lots of shopping and great dining in Georgetown. While you're in town, pick up a copy of the free City Paper to see what's happening during your visit.
I hope this little overview has been helpful to my fellow Jaguar fans. I won't be able to join you (my wife and I will be celebrating our 35th anniversary that weekend). But I welcome any questions here in the comments, or send me a tweet at @joe_dougherty.