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Washington, D.C. meetings offer planners some of the most unique and historic settings and event locations. Home to some of the most recognizable monuments and buildings in the world, Washington, D.C. offers endless opportunities for meeting and event planning. From the 2.3-million-square-foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center to chic restaurants and unique Washington, D.C. event venues within the various museums of the Smithsonian Institution, a plethora of meeting and event facilities await in the nation's capital. Washington, D.C. is also home to more than 150 embassies, chancelleries, and diplomatic residencies – many of which are available for private events.
There is no lack of transportation options when it comes to DC meeting planning. Access to the city's many attractions, meeting hotels, and neighborhoods is readily available through the efficient transportation system: Metro and bus service touch almost every point within the city. The DC Circulator bus provides another transportation option, serving as a connection between the National Mall, Union Station, Georgetown, Navy Yard, and the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The District also prides itself in being one of the most accessible cities in the world for visitors of all physical capabilities. Metro and Smithsonian guides are available to help individuals utilize public transportation, while City Scooter Tours provide wheelchair and mobility scooter rentals for any length of time.
Well-planned from its inception, the District is dotted with beautiful parks, gardens, and public spaces. West and East Potomac parks comprise more than 720 riverside acres that are divided by the Tidal Basin. In addition to 1,600 cherry trees, West Potomac Park is home to many of the city's major memorials. East Potomac Park showcases more than 11 different types of cherry trees and serves as an outdoor activity center with picnic grounds, tennis courts, three golf courses, bike paths, and a large swimming pool. Rock Creek Park offers an outdoor amphitheater, playgrounds, the remains of Civil War battlements, and endless acres of wooded parkland to explore and outdoor locations for planning professionals to choose from. Approximately 91 acres of wilderness preserve can be found on Theodore Roosevelt Island, dedicated to the memory of the nation's 26th president. This public park is now a habitat for numerous animals including rabbits, great owls, fox, turtles, and groundhogs, and it has over two miles of foot trails for visitors to wander.
Planning events in Washington, D.C. gives you options that you would be hard-pressed to find in many other cities. Washington, D.C.'s flourishing cultural scene is influenced by people from around the world. Whether your taste buds are craving Asian, Mediterranean, Portuguese, or something else entirely, choose from an eclectic blend of restaurants such as Zengo, Zaytinya, Centrolina, Farmers Fishers Bakers, Fiola, and Old Ebbitt Grill. Catch a world-class performance at the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, Ford's Theater, or the Verizon Center. Watch the Nationals play at Nationals Park in southeast Washington along the fast-developing Capitol Riverfront adjacent to the Navy Yard, or check out a DC United game at RFK Stadium.
Aside from the federal government and hospitality, there are several other notable industries thriving within this metropolitan city. The law, higher education, medical research, publishing, and government research industries are booming. The city also serves as the world headquarters for many well-known companies including Atlantic Media, Special Olympics, Inc., AARP, Inc., Gallup, Inc., and the International Monetary Fund.
Located within close proximity to several growing cities such as Alexandria and Arlington, Washington, DC offers several alternatives to the usual downtown DC event planning. Host your next meeting in Alexandria and take pleasure in a historic waterfront community with 18th- and 19th-century architecture, unique shops, galleries, restaurants and major hotels. Select from more than 11,000 hotel rooms and 55 restaurants located in Arlington and enjoy the luxury of a small-town meeting while situated only minutes from Reagan Washington National Airport, Arlington National Cemetery and all major Washington, DC attractions.
View the other pages in the Washington, D.C. Destination Guide to get more information about event and meeting planning in the nation’s capital.
Washington, D.C. offers visitors the unique opportunity to experience a thriving multi-cultural city while being fully immersed in the deep history of the nation. The District is situated on the banks of the beautiful Potomac River and has a metro area population of approximately 6 million people. Characterized by lush green spaces and magnificent architecture formed by blocks of glittering limestone and granite, this metropolitan city allures over 20 million visitors every year.
Take a stroll along the National Mall and visit one of more than 14 free attractions offered by the Smithsonian Institution and others, including the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum, the American Indian Museum, and the Air and Space Museum. For those who prefer the outdoors, get a breath of fresh air and reflect on the trials and accomplishments of the nation’s forefathers while standing at the foot of the Jefferson Memorial, Franklin Memorial, World War II Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, or Vietnam Memorial.
In the fall, brightly colored leaves, flag football games, picnickers, runners, fundraising events, and concerts bring the National Mall to life. During the spring, busloads of people flock to the area for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, enjoying the stunning sight of thousands of blossoming cherry trees, which were gifted to the city by Tokyo, Japan, as a gesture of friendship in 1912. Other notable attractions along the National Mall include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and the Washington Monument.
The National Mall is just one of the many areas in the city to explore; every neighborhood within this 67-square-mile city has its own personality and unique appeal. Take a Sunday afternoon outing to the neighborhood of Capitol Hill to admire the architecture of one of the city's oldest communities and explore the sights, sounds, and rich aromas of the Eastern Market – the last of DC's 19th-century markets in operation. Discover Georgetown: sip a cocktail, grab a bite to eat, or people watch on the streets of this delightful waterfront neighborhood. Georgetown’s streets are also lined in a diverse mix of unique boutiques and high-end retailers, sure to provide an afternoon of enjoyable shopping.
Slightly to the northwest, the colorful neighborhood of Adams Morgan boasts an eclectic mix of international restaurants, sidewalk cafes, ethnic stores, and late-night entertainment. Challenge the mind in Penn Quarter's modern restaurants, contemporary galleries, innovative theaters, and captivating museums. Or head out for a night on the town on 14th St, known for its clubs and swanky bars.
From its celebrated past and patriotism to its bright future as a thriving metropolis, Washington, D.C. has it all. Unique neighborhoods, spectacular monuments, enlightening museums, lively festivals, and award-winning restaurants make the District a must-see for travelers and event-goers alike.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Washington, D.C.'s climate has all four seasons. Warm weather is prevalent from April until as late as mid-October. Summers are hot and humid with average temperatures reaching the high 80s; thunderstorms are frequent. Winters can be very mild to bitter cold with average temperatures dropping as low as 35°F.
The average annual precipitation is 42 inches, with occasional heavy snowfalls during the winter, though light snowfalls are more common. Fall and spring are the best seasons to visit the city, as the air is still cool, with temperatures ranging from the 50s to 70s, but the skies remain sunny.
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
There is no place like Washington, D.C. and no meeting facility or convention space like the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. With 2.3 million square feet of meeting space, the center attracts a whopping 2.5 million visitors every year. This impressive events facility in the nation's capital boasts an impressive list of prestigious events, including five of the 10 official inaugural balls for President Barack Obama in 2009 and both of the inaugural balls in 2013.
Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., the Washington Convention Center facility opened in 2003 and has ushered in unparalleled residential and commercial development for the area. The original structure was erected in 1874, just two blocks away from the current site. In its first year of operation alone, the new facility hosted nearly one million visitors and generated $426.5 million in delegate spending. The facility also holds a Guinness World Record for hosting the largest sit-down dinner, a 2009 affair for 16,206 guests.
The convention center's range of event spaces includes 77 breakout rooms and the largest ballroom in the region at 52,000 square feet. Combined, its three concourse-level exhibit halls have 473,000 square feet of usable space. Level two halls have 230,000 square feet of contiguous square feet, or room for 1,000 10'x10' booths.
In 2014, the new 14-story Washington Marriott Marquis opened. This $520-million, 1,175-room convention center hotel is includes 100,000 square feet of meeting space with an underground passage to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Embassy Suites by Hilton Washington DC Convention Center
The Embassy Suites Washington, D.C. Convention Center Hotel lies between the White House and the US Capitol in downtown Washington, D.C. and draws both leisure and business travelers. Each suite at the Embassy Suites Washington, D.C. Convention Center Hotel is beautifully decorated with a personal chamber and sitting room. The Embassy Suites is a full-service upscale all-suite hotel and walking distance from many businesses, government offices, and Washington, D.C. attractions.
Nestled between historical Georgetown and Dupont Circle, only three blocks from the Metro, this hotel is a quick Metro ride away from many Washington, D.C. attractions. Guests of the Embassy Suites Washington, D.C. Convention Center receive a complimentary breakfast. High-speed Internet access is available throughout the hotel.
Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
5701 Marinelli RoadBethesda, Maryland 20852Total Meeting Space - 50,000 Sq. Ft.
Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington, DC 20004Total Meeting Space - 310,000 Sq. Ft.
Clyde's of Gallery Place
Clyde's of Gallery Place opened in 2005 in the heart of Washington's Chinatown and quickly became a favorite for Shakespeare and Ford's theatergoers, Verizon Center players and fans, residents, and tourists alike. At Clyde’s of Gallery Place, there is a menu for every palate and show time.
The grand Victorian saloon recalls Hong Kong's Empire-era opulence and celebrates the sporting life in an impressive collection of bronze sculpture and oil paintings. The two-level restaurant comprises three bars, five dining rooms, a private dining room, and Clyde’s on the Walk for carryout.
Park Hyatt Washington, D.C.
Experience unrivaled luxury and service complemented by the warmth of American heritage at the redesigned Park Hyatt Washington. A few blocks from Georgetown and minutes from shopping, Embassy Row, national monuments, the Smithsonian, and The Kennedy Center, the Tony Chi-designed Washington, D.C. hotel offers guests uncompromising comfort with modern amenities. Relax in the largest deluxe rooms in downtown Washington, D.C. Awaken your senses at the Blue Duck Tavern, an award-winning restaurant featuring modern design, an elegant wine cellar, and fresh regional cuisine.
Park Hyatt Washington offers flexible meeting and event space as well as five private boardrooms ideal for smaller functions. Two levels and 12,000 square feet of sophisticated yet understated elegance offer guests a distinctive setting for any occasion. Dedicated meeting professionals offering personalized service ensure the success of every event. The hotel is equipped to accommodate requests for high-speed Internet connections and modern audiovisual capabilities. Events at Park Hyatt Washington are catered with seasonal recipes and dishes from celebrated chef Brian McBride.
The Henley Park Hotel
A classic name in downtown Washington, D.C. hotels and a prestigious member of Historic Hotels of America, the Henley Park Hotel was originally an apartment building named Tudor Hall, a stately residence favored by many senators, congressmen, and other notables of Washington society. Choose from 96 fine guest rooms and suites – each a showcase of understated luxury, English style décor, and contemporary amenities. Enjoy convenient access to the DC Convention Center, the White House, the Smithsonian, and other nearby attractions.
Washington, D.C. is served by three major airports: Ronald Reagan National Airport, Dulles International Airport, and Baltimore/Washington International Airport. All are easily accessible from the city by ground and public transportation, and most hotels offer shuttle services.
Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI)
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)
Approximate taxi fare: $22.00 USD
Located in Arlington, Virginia, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport sits across the Potomac River from DC. Built in 1941, the airport's original terminal, Terminal A, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Terminal B/C opened in 1997 as the first of its modernization efforts. In 2015, the airport saw 23 million passengers. With 44 airline gates, the airport offers non-stop service to 85 destinations.
Known for its impressive architectural elements and unparalleled views of downtown DC and key monuments, Reagan National offers a great welcome to visitors. To make their experience more comfortable, the airport features over 70 restaurants, lounges, and shops. Eateries include Ben’s Chili Bowl, Lebanese Taverna, Taylor Gourmet, Legal Sea Foods, and Matsutake Sushi, while retail outlets range from Brooks Brothers to Tumi.
Reagan National has various parking options in garages and an economy lot. Overall, space is available for over 7,500 vehicles. For easy access to downtown DC and its attractions, travelers can take advantage of the airport's Metrorail station or other ground transportation operators.
Airline carriers serving Ronald Reagan National Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
Approximate taxi fare: $74.00 USD
A fine example of Beaux Arts-style architecture, DC's Union Station serves eight Amtrak routes: Acela Express, Capitol Limited, Cardinal, Carolinian/Piedmont, Crescent, Northeast Regional, Silver Service/Palmetto, and Vermonter. Traveling on Amtrak, guests from major cities such as Boston, Chicago, New York, and Miami can reach DC.
Union Station is open 24 hours a day. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 4:30 am to 10:10 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 5 am to 10:10 pm.
Located in historic Old Town, Alexandria Station serves five Amtrak routes from its Federal Revival-style terminal. The Cardinal, Carolinian/Piedmont, Crescent, Northeast Regional, and Silver Service/Palmetto routes all stop at the station. From there, passengers can access the King Street station of the Metro as well as Alexandria DASH and WMATA bus lines.
Alexandria Station is open daily from 6 am to 9 pm.
Metrobus serves passengers 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 1,500 buses on 325 routes in DC, Maryland, and Virginia. Metrobus provides 400,000 trips each weekday.
Metrobus schedules vary based on route and location. Fares are $1.75 using cash or a SmarTrip card, Metro's permanent, rechargeable plastic cards. Express fares are $4.00 using cash or SmarTrip card. Exact fare is required.
The 2nd busiest rapid transit system in the nation, Metrorail serves 91 stations and operates on 117 miles of track, both above and below ground. Its six color-coded lines service the downtown area and extend into Fairfax County, Arlington County and the City of Alexandria in Virginia and Montgomery County and Prince George's County in Maryland.
Metrorail schedules vary based on time and day, with high frequency service being offered during peak hours, weekdays from 5 to 9:30 am and from 3 to 7 pm. Metrorail fares vary based on distance traveled. Regular fare, in effect weekdays from opening to 9:30 am and from 3 to 7 pm, is set at $2.15 minimum and $5.90 maximum. Reduced fare, applicable all other times, is $1.75 minimum and $3.60 maximum. Reduced fares are available for seniors and people with disabilities. Up to two children aged 4 and under ride free with each adult paying full fare.
Part of a public-private partnership among the District of Columbia Department of Transportation, WMATA, and DC Surface Transit, the DC Circulator bus is operated by First Transit. Buses run on three lines: the National Mall Route (Red), Georgetown-Union Station Route (Yellow), Dupont Circle-Georgetown-Rosslyn (Light Blue), Union Station-Navy Yard Metro (Dark Blue), Woodley Park-Adams Morgan-McPherson Square Metro (Green), and Potomac Ave Metro-Skyland via Barracks Row (Orange).
Additional information on the Washington D.C. Circulator is available at www.dccirculator.com. Fare is $1. Exact change is required. One-, three-, and seven-day passes are available. Only SmarTrip cards are accepted for transfers.
Taxis are located near the baggage claim exits of each terminal at Reagan National. Fares average $16 to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. In DC, fares are set at $4.25 for the first mile and $1.50 for each additional mile.
Dulles International's Washington Flyer Taxis are located on the lower level of the Main Terminal. Charges are $2.80 for the first quarter mile and $0.45 for each additional quarter mile. Average fare to DC is $60; to Alexandria, $58; to Arlington, $45; to Tyson's Corner, $42; to Reagan National, $65.
The taxi stand at Baltimore/Washington International is located outside of baggage claim. Rates average $65 to Annapolis; $35 to Baltimore; $155 to Dulles; $100 to National Airport; and $90 to Washington, D.C.
Avis, Alamo, Advantage, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, and National service all three airports in the Washington, D.C. area. Onsite rental car counters at Reagan National are located on the first floor in Parking Garage A. At Baltimore/Washington International, the car rental facility is accessible by a free shuttle departing from lower level terminal.
There are two ways to reach the pickup location for rental cars from Reagan National airport.
Ride: Board the "Parking/Rental Car" shuttle, which stops at each terminal outside baggage claim. Get off at the Terminal Garage A/Rental Car stop.
Walk: Follow signs towards Terminal Parking Garage A, approximately 10 minutes from Terminals A & B and 15 minutes from Terminal C.
From Dulles airport:From the Main Terminal baggage claim level, exit down the ramp towards Door 2, 4, or 6. Rental car shuttle buses are operated by each individual company. Look for the company's logo on the bus before boarding.
From BWI:The facility is located at Stoney Run Road and New Ridge Road. Free shuttle service carries customers to and from the airport approximately every 10 minutes. Passengers arriving on flights should take the free shuttle from the lower level terminal for a ten-minute ride to the new facility. When returning a vehicle, look for highway directional signs to the facility.
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