We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Washington DC to Baltimore...

Which Washington DC hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
San Francisco...
posts: 1,279
reviews: 1
Washington DC to Baltimore...

I'm going from Washington DC to Baltimore on a Thursday afternoon. What kind of traffic should I expect, and what's the difference in it between leaving at 3PM or leaving at 5PM? What's the best route I should take? How long will it take? And I'm from San Francisco and have spent some time in LA. Is traffic better or worse in the DC-Baltimore area? Any help will be appreciated.

Sterling, VA
Destination Expert
for Washington DC
posts: 11,959
reviews: 135
1. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

If you are driving, the earlier you leave, the better. By 3 p.m. rush hour has started. These days, rush hour around here is starting earlier and lasting longer. Some studies rank DC metro area traffic as being right up there with CA traffic. You would need to get on the Beltway (I-495) to I-95 North. Since I don't know where exactly you will be coming from DC, I couldn't tell you the exact way to access the Beltway. As the crow flies, Baltimore is about 30 miles from DC. However, during rush hour it can take an eternity to travel that distance.

Washington, D.C.
posts: 262
reviews: 58
2. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

You will be going in the start of the evening rush hour(3PM) or in the middle of rush hour (5PM). I usually like to travel in that direction BEFORE 2PM in order to beat the traffic. It doesn't matter what weekday you choose to travel, there will be traffic.

Since I don't travel that way frequently, I usually take the BW Parkway.

Without deep traffic if should take anywhere from 30-45 minutes depending on where you are going in Baltimore.

Are you going up there for a particular reason?? Instead of driving you can the MARC train that travels up there and you won't have to worry about traffic issues if you don't need a car.

Washington DC...
posts: 207
3. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

If you're driving from DC proper, you can take NY Avenue out of the city to 295 (the Baltimore-Washington (BW) Parkway that the previous poster mentioned). You don't need to get on the Beltway (495), and it wouldn't make sense to do so unless you're in far NW DC (Tenleytown, Chevy Chase area).

I've done the drive at 3pm and at 5pm. Neither is great, but leaving at 3pm should be quite a bit better. I once travelled from DC to Baltimore at 5pm and sat in stop-and-go traffic until Laurel, MD (about 3/4 of the way to Baltimore). That time it took me 2 hours to get there.

I'd advise you leave at 3pm if possible -- the earlier the better.

Annapolis, Maryland
posts: 863
reviews: 7
4. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

As everyone has stated, traffic in DC is as bad as traffic in LA...but there are many options...and they really depend on your DC location and sense of driving adventure. The main rule:AVOID THE DC BELTWAY!!! Never ever put wheels on I-495. At least limit the time...i.e. enter at New Hampshire (or US 1) for I-95 North...Entering Baltimore at those times generally isn't too bad...but the Beltway and tunnels are always a problem.

There are 4 major roads more or less linking the 2 cities. I-95, MD-295, US 1 and MD 29...the first 3 are direct...29 takes additional moves...

Surface streets can get crowded, but never completely crawl like the Beltways. The New York Avenue to the Parkway route is the classic way....and usually works fairly well leaving the city and takes you right to the stadiums in Baltimore...You'll need to stay left exiting DC or you'll be heading to Annapolis...If you approach New York Ave from South Dakota Ave...all the better.

If you are in upper NW, you can take 29 up to MD 144, Frederick Rd, through Ellicott City...and take that it to B-More...these types of routes may take longer...but are less traffic filled and a bit more scenic.....although 29 can be a mess around Columbia...

US 1 (Washington Blvd. in Baltimore, Rhode Island Ave in DC, and Baltimore Ave in College Park) is a classic old commercial strip for most of those 30 miles...It usually moves pretty well. There are some nifty spots on the road...U of MD, the outdoor biker's barin Elkridge..Daniels?...the swinging bridge...US 1 also delivers you to the stadium area.

San Francisco...
posts: 1,279
reviews: 1
5. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

Thanks for the help guys. I appreciate it. I know I was a little vague, but to clarify, on that Thursday morning, I'm checking out of my hotel near the Pentagon, and then going to rent a car at Reagan National Airport. Then I have pretty much the whole day to spend in Washington DC, then I'm gonna head out to Baltimore to catch an Orioles game at 7PM, and will probably leave early (now earlier after reading posts here) and look around Baltimore a bit. So I can't say exactly where I'll be in DC, other then it'll most likely be in the southern or western sections of Washington DC. I hope this little tidbit helps.

Washington DC...
posts: 207
6. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

In that case, I would say leave on the early side, and, if you have time to kill in B-more, you can check out the Inner Harbor or the area around Camden Yards, which has some fun sports bars.

That time it took me 2 hours to get to B-more I was going up for an O's game. I left DC (well, a little south of DC in VA) at 5pm and pulled into the parking lot at Camden Yards at 7pm. Not fun!

Like the previous poster said, MD-295 (the B-W Parkway) will take you right to Camden Yards, so that would probably be simplest for you.

BTW, I would rent a car at the end of your day (or take the MARC (commuter rail) to B-more if you don't need the car for anything else), rather than dealing with the car all day in DC.

Washington DC...
posts: 207
7. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

Also, you should skip the O's and go to a Nats game! No sitting in crazy traffic! You can metro right to the stadium! : )

San Francisco...
posts: 1,279
reviews: 1
8. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

The problem with waiting till the afternoon to rent a car is I'm already put in a request to rent the car in the morning (Maybe I can change this.). I was wondering if there's a metro station in the Arlington or Crystal City area where I can park my car for a few hours and take the metro into the Washington DC area, and then after, just go back to my car and drive off to Baltimore (BTW, I'll be staying in Baltimore for the night, which eliminates taking the MARC.). Do you guys know a station? Looking at the metro rail map, I noticed the metro stops at Pentagon City. Is that a mall? Can I just park there for a little while? And Dracisk, I'm a baseball fan, so I'm going to catch an O's game and a Nationals game. So at least for one night (or day), I don't have to sit in traffic to catch a game. It'll probably be more fun to catch the metro to RFK.

Washington DC...
posts: 207
9. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

Other people have suggested parking at National Airport, which is right near Crystal City and on the metro, for the day. I've never done this. Maybe others will have other ideas. You may be able to park at the Pentagon City Mall. They definitely have a garage, but I'm not sure how much it'll cost for several hours. National may be cheaper (long-term parking).

San Francisco...
posts: 1,279
reviews: 1
10. Re: Washington DC to Baltimore...

So the parking at Pentagon City isn't free? Do you know any other metro stations where parking close by would be free? If not, I can always just pay the rates. If anyone else has any tips, it would be helpful. Thanks.