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Old 06-25-2014, 02:58 PM   #1
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Question DC traffic/Mt Vernon info requested

The missus and I are going to do a day trip to Mt. Vernon within the next month. Coming from PA, we'll have to go around Baltimore on the beltway and then 295 down into Alexandria and so on. What I'm trying to figure out is what the best day to do this would be.

A: Go on the weekend with every other Tom, Dick and Harry and deal with all the other tourists.

B: Go during a weekday to avoid the tourists but probably get mired in workday traffic.

FWIW we won't be on the bike for this trip.
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Old 06-25-2014, 04:35 PM   #2
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I would not go down 295 unless you hit it midday..and then only if it was a no moon month.

DC is beginning to transition to the lighter summer schedule. If you hit the I-495 after 0900ish, it might almost be moving.!3e0
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Old 06-25-2014, 05:31 PM   #3
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This time of year you'll have almost as many tourist there during the week as you will on the weekend.

Sunday would be the best day to avoid heavy traffic in the Balt/DC area. Saturday would be my second choice.

Traffic sucks all day long during the week around DC. Sometimes it sucks even on the weekend.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:28 PM   #4
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I live in Alexandria and work in DC. It's prime tourist season now, so you'll deal with the fanny-pack contingent no matter the day. If you go during the week and avoid rush hour (get here after 10 and leave before 3 or after 7), you will probably contend with fewer tourists at the sights, and slightly less traffic than the usual beltway bandit haul. On the weekends, you will have a lot more tourists but less traffic. So whichever is the lesser of two evils for you. Also, to echo Dorito - 295 is abysmal most of the time. I tend to take I95 between Baltimore and Alexandria - more lanes, less construction, no speed cameras.

Edit - if you're only going to Mt. Vernon and not DC, traffic isn't nearly as much of an issue. I think you'll be fine going during the week at the times I suggested (to avoid traffic on the interstate), or on the weekend. There will still be a lot of tourists on the weekend, but not as bad as in DC.

And make sure to check out Old Town Alexandria while you're there. It's a beautiful place with lots of things to see and only a few miles up from Mt. Vernon.
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Old 06-25-2014, 06:29 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by WayneJ View Post
Traffic sucks all day long during the week around DC. Sometimes it sucks even on the weekend.
Wayne, I think that's an understatement!
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Old 06-26-2014, 03:47 AM   #6
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Nothing wrong with coming south on 295. It's a much shorter stretch than coming around the maryland section of 95 south on the beltway. Just don't speed more than about 5-over. Then once you cross the wilson bridge, catch the GW parkway south to Mount Vernon. It's the very first exit off the bridge. Real pretty stretch of road that follows the river to MV. Stay off the roads at rush hour and they're fine. Traffic in this town gets a bad rap. I've lived here since 65, when the beltway was brand spankin' new and was only two lanes each way. Just don't go anywhere near 95 south, south of the beltway at evening rush, nor a weekend. Mount Vernon's really cool. But if you want to see a much more beautiful colonial home, go to George Mason's estate Gunston Hall. It's on Mason Neck in Pohick, just about 20 minutes south of MV. Mason was very wealthy compared to Washington. It becomes very obvious if you compare the two homes.
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Old 06-26-2014, 04:07 AM   #7
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Thanks, guys. I knew I could count on you.

We are not going into DC proper, just a direct line to Mt Vernon (Though I may add Old Town Alexandria to the day). I've been to DC a few times but never made it to Uncle George's estate. Some recent geneaological research showed that I am related to George by a marriage (so not a direct blood relative, but still...pretty awesome!) so have a fresh interest in all things Washington.

Not sure which is worse...standing in line at the estate or sitting in traffic.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:11 AM   #8
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My experience with that traffic is that all the bureaucrats and politicians leave DC on the weekends - there are huge traffic jams anywhere south of DC (and often times north) on Fridays. They all go into DC on Sundays. Traffic gets pretty jammed up, then. But it kind of sucks no matter what you do.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:34 AM   #9
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Got a smart phone with google maps on it? Use the navigate feature, and it will show you a live traffic status of your route and an estimated arrival time. Then ask it to show you the alternate routes and it will, along with their traffic and arrival times. Darn useful tool imo! This will let you decide if you want to come around on the beltway, or down 295. The choice varies moment to moment.

While there are other routes, and arguably even faster ways, coming down along side the Potomac from the DC beltway to Mt Vernon itself is pretty and peaceful.

Have fun. We visited last year with the boy and a friend of his.

Going to do dinner at the Mount Vernon Inn? You might as well. Round out the experience.
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Old 06-26-2014, 08:12 PM   #10
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If you are visiting Old Town Alexandria, you could park in the public garage across from the Torpedo Factory. There are cruises that leave from the waterfront there and go to Mt. Vernon. It's around $40 per person round trip plus the cost of admission to Mt. Vernon. A little pricey, but a fun way to see some of the sights along the way.
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Old 06-27-2014, 07:20 PM   #11
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During the week traffic will be bad getting around BMore and getting to DC. I'd avoid 295 as if it land mines. Unless you will be traveling between 2 and 4 am.

I'd take 95 to 495 across the WW and avoid going through DC regardless of the day.
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Old 06-28-2014, 01:18 PM   #12
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My route suggestion is that you go through York, Gettysburg, Frederick, Leesburg. etc.

Once you get onto the George Washington Parkway stay on it all the way to Mt. Vernon. It will take you right through the heart of Old Town Alexandria.
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Old 07-09-2014, 05:58 PM   #13
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Yikes, that seems like a "long way down"

Make the straight shot and leave a little later and get home a little later. Avoid Fridays and just prepare for some traffic. That's a stretch just to hit Mt. Vernon, so Old Town will help, but just for some shopping and food.
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