How To Get to Nationals Park
Tip #1: Use The Metro
The D.C. Metrorail system is one of the most highly regarded in the country. The trains are clean and comfortable, service is efficient and frequent, and the system covers most anything worth reaching in D.C. proper. If you’re staying in D.C. or live there, it should not be difficult at all to get anywhere in two train rides, and most times the transfers (most commonly at L’Enfant Plaza Station) are free.
Metrorail does something I wish more big-city transit systems would do (are you listening, SEPTA?)—they have signs at the tracks informing you how long the wait for the next train is.
Even from outside the city it’s not hard to find a park-and-ride Metro station. Nearly all of the stations close to the I-495 beltway are park-and-rides, where you can park inexpensively and for free on weekends. There are some you might want to avoid for different reasons, but the majority of them are easy in and out.
Nationals Park is located just steps away from the Navy Yard Station on the Metro’s green line. There are two entrances/exits to the station; coming from the train there are signs clearly showing the way. It’s so idiot-proof even a congressman could use it.
Upon emerging from the Navy Yard Station, Nationals Park’s impressive center field entrance is immediately in view—you can see the seats inside the open-air facility—and you pass by numerous food vendors on Half Street hawking hotdogs, water, peanuts and any other snack that you can bring into the ballpark. (If the food inside Nationals Park wasn’t so good, it might be more tempting to take advantage of the hawkers.)
As said, it isn’t terribly difficult to drive to Nationals Park, and there is a fair amount of parking. But it is still driving in the city, and not only might you get frustrated with city traffic, but you will pay a nice chunk of change to park anywhere that is less than a half-mile walk to the park. Coming from a park-and-ride or from another station in the city, you’re spared all of that.
And the train station platforms are pretty cool looking too.
Tip #2 – The Ballpark Bus
No politician of any stripe will ever convince me to believe in America more than the Ballpark Bus people do. Stuff like this is why I do what I do.
The Ballpark Bus was hatched by one Brian Bowman, a Nationals fan who doesn’t live close enough to a WMATA Metro station to make taking the train to the ballpark convenient, despite the ease of use for most D.C.-area residents.
Parking at Nats Park is expensive if you plan to be less than a half-mile from the ballpark, and driving in D.C. isn’t much fun either. So rather than complain to the Metro people or the Nationals, Bowman came up with his own solution for Nats fans that share his dilemma.
The Ballpark Bus focuses on areas west of the District that are not covered by the Metro’s tentacles. Bowman clearly is motivated enough to get the word out…he’s worked out deals with local taverns and restaurants for the pickup areas, places that can only benefit from being a depot for baseball fans to get to the game. And some of these establishments will offer food specials with the ride…winners all around.
And it’s affordable too cheaper than driving and especially Nationals parking—even if you’re driving from one of the locations to a Metro station and paying for the parking there, which isn’t free on weekdays. Just reserve a spot ahead of time, and if the demand is high enough the bus will roll; and if not, you won’t be charged of course.
What I love about the Ballpark Bus is that it’s a private enterprise—“mass transit on demand” as they call it. I understand that cities require taxpayer-funded ways for people to get to the ballpark and I‘m not knocking it—especially in Washington, where local taxpayers footed the entire bill for the place. The city has to recoup its investment and no one will go if it’s too difficult to get there. I get that. But the Ballpark Bus is an independent solution, to a problem that many Nats fans still have.
There are similar services sprouting in other cities—the Rays, Reds, and Indians all now have "Fan Express" buses that take groups to games. In Milwaukee there are close to 30 establishments that will give you a ride to the ballpark, and Detroit has quite a few too.
And I love it, because putting it in an E-Guide makes me look smart...
Check it out here: www.ballparkbus.com
(Logo courtesy of Ballpark Bus.)
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