I would honestly not recommend staying in Baltimore if the primary focus of your trip is to see the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC. You can certainly take the MARC commuter train on the weekdays from Baltimore to DC, but it is time consuming. The train ride alone is at least an hour, and that does not factor in getting from your hotel in Baltimore to the train station or from the train station in DC to the tourist sites. If you wanted to take a day trip, I'd say it is doable, but it's not something I would enjoy on a daily basis.
You can certainly fly into Baltimore's primary airport BWI - and get to DC and the surrounding areas easily. If you're on a budget, I recommend looking into the Crystal City area of Arlington, VA. Many of the hotels are less expensive than those in DC proper, yet they are near a metro station allowing for an easy ride into the city.
Thank you for your reply. Time wise, how much of a commute from Arlington to DC? Once in DC how much time spent on commuting from train station via bus to the museum buildings? We will probably make this a 5 day trip. During winter, is there a problem with this commute?
Any time :) Arlington is actually a suburb of Washington, DC, so the metro (subway system) runs through it. If you stay in Crystal City, you can take metro's blue line to the Smithsonian station. It takes less than 20 minutes. No need to use the bus system at all -- metro will get you anywhere you need to go and is very user-friendly. Metro's website has a great "Trip Planner" that is very helpful:
You shouldn't have a problem with this commute in the winter unless there is a huge snow storm. DC doesn't do well with big snow. Sometimes, outdoor metro stations will shut down when there is inclement weather (but that's rare).Edited: 7:38 pm, September 12, 2011
Definitely stay in DC. Hotels in DC can be the same price as ones in Baltimore. There's no reliable or constant transit system between the two cities, especially on weekends.
The metro (subway) will get you where you need to go if you stay outside of DC, but the DC Circulator bus could come in handy, especially if you want to get to Georgetown. You shouldn't need to use the WMATA buses.
I completely agree with the suggestions to say in DC or a DC suburb. While Baltimore and DC are geographically close, it's really isn't as easy to travel between the two as it should be - especially on the weekends. If it helps you to decide, whenever we plan a night out in DC we get a hotel room there versus driving back to Baltimore.
I live in Baltimore, and while we'd love you to visit, you should stay in DC; much more to see and do, particularly if you are into the museums. come to baltimore for a day or two!
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