Life in DC

life in dc

D.C. is a busy, interesting, and fun city. There is always something to do, and many ways you can get around. The following section will provide advice on how to travel around D.C. and out of the city, and will provide details on events going on during your quarter in the city. 

The City - Washington, D.C.

Map of Washington, DC

Here is a map of the area surrounding the Washington Center:

Washington, DC Map

Dupont Circle will be the closest "landmark" to the Washington Center. If you need to ask someone for directions, this will be something most residents in DC know. 

Take note of how close the Washington Center is to the White House and the Capitol Mall. You are literally in the heart of Washington, DC. We hope you take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities this proximity of housing offers you.

Quadrant System

Washington is divided into four quadrants: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast. North Capitol Street, which runs directly north from the Capitol, divides the Northwest from the Northeast. East Capitol Street, which runs directly East from the Capitol, divides the Northeast from the Southeast, and South Capitol Street divides the Southeast from the Southwest. The Mall, a broad, grassy park lined with Smithsonian Institution museums and federal office buildings, divides the Northwest from the Southwest.

In each quadrant the streets that run north/south are numbered, and the east/west streets correspond to letters of the alphabet. As a general rule, avenues, which are named after states, run diagonally. Avenues usually intersect each other at circles or squares (for example, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire avenues intersect at Dupont Circle).

It is important to know in which quadrant buildings are located; for example, there may be a 507 F Street in each quadrant. Most of your business and other activities will probably occur in the Northwest (abbreviated NW), the largest of the quadrants. The highest crime rates are in certain areas of the other three quadrants (areas in which your internships, academic work and sightseeing will not usually take you).

Safety

Like many large cities, Washington has a high crime rate. Nevertheless, many areas of the city are safe, and there are ways in which you can avoid becoming a crime victim.

  • Always know where you are going. Purchase a pocket map of the city that includes a map of the Metro system and keep it with you. You are less likely to have trouble if you do not get lost and wander into a dangerous area. Avoid empty streets. If you need to go someplace and do not know the neighborhood, ask someone at the Washington Center.
  • Travel in pairs or groups. You are much less likely to be accosted or harassed if you are part of a group. Discourage other students from traveling alone, especially at night.
  • Do not carry large amounts of money or wear expensive jewelry. Always carry enough cash so that you can take a cab in an emergency. Also carry your cell phone or coins if you need to make an emergency call.
  • Let roommates and friends know where you are going. If you decide to stay somewhere other than your room for a night, let your roommate know where you can be reached.
  • Lock your doors. Do not prop the door open, even if you are just going down the hall to the laundry room. Carry your key with you at all times.

If you are a victim of a crime or an attempted crime, try to attract attention to the criminal, scream at people to call the police, and try to remember details about the criminal and the crime. All Metro buses and Metro stations have direct links to the police. If you need help, stop a bus and ask the driver to call the police for you. Notify the Washington Center staff as soon as possible.

Like most large cities in the United States, Washington has a large number of homeless people. Most of these people are not dangerous, but some are mentally ill. If asked for money, keep walking briskly and stay focused on your destination.

More Information

There is a wealth of information on the Internet about Washington and the surrounding areas. Here are just a few web sites you may want to see:

Weather

Fall Quarter
  • Autumns are lovely, with temperatures similar to those in springtime. The evenings are not too cold, with low temperatures ranging from 40 to 60 degrees. There is also less rain in autumn than in any other time of year. This is a great time to visit since the summer crowds leave and you can enjoy shorter lines to see the sights. Pack for temperatures ranging from 50 to 79 degrees. When packing, think about what you would wear in late October, early Novemebr in Davis. Don't forget the walking shoes either; this is a great time of year to be outdoors taking a walking tour of the city.

  • Visit our Climate page on Pinterest to learn about general weather patterns for each season in D.C.

Winter Quarter
  • During the first few months of the year, bring lots of layers and a winter coat. The high temperature is usually 45 to 60 degrees and the low between 25 to 40 degrees. The average coldest time of the year is January 9th through the 23rd. Skies are often cloudy or partly cloudy, and some form of precipitation is never out of the question. The normal winter snowfall is 17 inches, of which most falls in January and February. Be sure to pack warm winter gear, boots and a waterproof coat for when the snow turns into rain.

  • Visit our Climate page on Pinterest to learn about general weather patterns for each season in D.C.

Spring Quarter
  • Spring is always pleasant in Washington DC with temperatures averaging 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Masses of visitors come to see the famous cherry trees and private and public gardens bloom in a profusion of pastels. The low temperatures in March, April and May range from the high 30's to the mid 50's, so make sure to bring a jacket for the evening. It can be tempting to embrace spring fever a little early, so bring the shorts and t-shirts, but don't forget warmer clothing too.

  • Visit our Climate page on Pinterest to learn about general weather patterns for each season in D.C.

Winter Quarter
  • High temperatures in the summer are usually in the 80's. Humidity stays at about 60% year round. It's a good time of year to spend hours indoors in the museums. Even at night it doesn't cool down all that much, averaging a low temperature of 65 to 70 degrees. The record high temperature was set at 106 degrees in July, so be prepared for potentially high temperatures. You'll need to pack whatever keeps you the coolest.

  • Visit our Climate page on Pinterest to learn about general weather patterns for each season in D.C.

Transportation in D.C.

Getting to the Center from the Airport

The UCDC Center is located on Scott Circle, a few blocks north of the White House.  

The address is:

UC Washington Center
1608 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
Washington, DC, 20036

There are three major airports that are close to DC, all of which have several options of ground transportation to get you to UCDC:

From Ronald Reagan/National Airport

  • Taxis: Taxis are located curbside throughout the airport. Approximate rate is $18-20.
  • Super Shuttle: Super Shuttle is located in baggage claim. The fare for one passenger is approximately $14. Use the discount code "3RNPL" for 10% off.
  • Metro: Only use the metro if you do not have much luggage. Take the Blue Line from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Farragut West, which is walking distance to the center.
  • Uber/Lyft: Both these services can get you to the center as well. It is approximately $10-25 depending on the time of day and size of vehicle.

From Dulles International Airport

  • Taxis: The Washington Flyer Taxi is the only taxi company that travels from Dulles Airport, and can be found in the ground transportation center near baggage claim at the East and West ramps on the lower level of the Main Terminal. Approximate rate is $60.
  • Supper Shuttle: Super Shuttle is located in the ground transportation center near baggage claim. The fare for one passenger is approximately $30. Use the discount code "3RNPL" for 10% off.
  • Public Transportation: Only use this option if you do not have much luggage. The Washington Flyer Coach service runs approximately every 30 minutes and will take you to the Orange Line’s West Falls Church station for around $10. You can then take the Metro to Farragut West, which is walking distance to the center. Additionally, Metrobus 5A travels to L’Enfant Plaza, which is on the Orange and Blue Lines, both of which travel to Farragut West. The fare is $6.
  • Uber/Lyft: Both these services can get you to the center as well. It is approximately $45-75 depending on the time of day and size of vehicle.

From Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshal Airport

Note: Flights into this airport can be cheaper than those into Reagan National or Dulles, but transportation to DC is comparatively more expensive.

  • Taxis: The taxi stand is located just outside of baggage claim on the lower level of the airport. Approximate rate is $90.
  • Super Shuttle: Super Shuttle is located in baggage claim. The fare for one passenger is approximately $35. Use the discount code "3RNPL" for 10% off.
  • Trains: MARC and Amtrak trains provide free shuttle service to the BWI Marshall Rail Station, from which you can take MARC or Amtrak trains to Union Station, which is off of the Red Line. Take Union Station to Dupont Circle or Farragut North, which are both walking distance from the center. The MARC Penn Line is a commuter train, which only runs during the weekdays and cost $6. 
  • Uber/Lyft: Both these services can get you to the center as well. It is approximately $50-80 depending on the time of day and size of vehicle.
Walking
Remember, the UC Washington Center is in the heart of the city! Map out the distance from the Center to your internship to see if it is walkable. Often, things are closer than they seem in the city!
Capital Bikeshare

If you want to get a little more exercise on your commute, biking is a great option! You can rent a bike from any of the 350 stations across the city and return it to any station near your destination.

Sign up online. Pay a fee to use the service for 30 days.The first 30 minutes of your ride are free, and any extra time incurs a small additional fee. See the link above for the most up-to-date fares.

Metro Rail

There are three metro stations that are approximately equidistant to the UC Washington Center: Dupont Circle, Farragut North, and Farragut West. Different metro lines run through each station.

UCDC will provide you a SmarTrip Card upon your arrival. This card is a permanent, plastic, rechargeable fare card that can hold up to a $300 value. A benefit of using this card is the potential to receive discounts on fares, and can be registered online to recover the card’s value if it is lost or stolen.

Use the WMATA website to plan your route to work. 

Note that fares vary by distance traveled and time of day. Check the website above for the most up-to-date information. SmarTrip cards can be refilled or single-trip fare cards can be purchased at every station.

Metro Bus

The bus is another great option for getting around the city. Use the WMATA website to find your nearest bus stop and to plan your commute.

Fares vary depending on the route and whether you use a SmarTrip card (fares are discounted when you use the card). You can use cash, but you must have the exact fare.

Be aware that many lines have different weekday versus weekend hours or destinations. Refer to the website above to find the most up-to-date information.

Taxi Cabs
Taxicabs are easy to find in Washington. Fares are metered, and tend to be more reasonable if you are traveling within Washington than if you travel from Washington into Virginia or Maryland. In Virginia, cabs are metered according to the distance you travel. You should tip drivers an average of 10% of your fare, depending on the service you receive (plus $1.00 per bag if you have luggage). Always use licensed taxis – never get into a taxi unless it is licensed and the driver has a license displayed in the front of the taxi.
Uber and Lyft
There are many Uber and Lyft drivers in Washington, DC. These services charge a base rate and then by the minute or milelage. Download their apps to get the most optimal service while in DC. These services are great for late night or early morning traveling when the metro is closed.
Traveling Outside of D.C.

D.C. is only a few hours away from many major citiies, including: Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston. To book your trip, consider busing or train over a flight, but there are definitely cheap ways to fly out of D.C. See the following information to book your next weekend trip in the capital!

Bus

Train

Flights

Events in D.C.

Event Resources for DC

Now that you are in D.C., it is time to make the most of it! Besides all of the requisite museum and monument trips, take out some time to enjoy Washington D.C.’s annual events. Check out our handy calendar below to see what fun annual events are offered in each quarter. These websites are great resources to find out about events in D.C.:

Fall Quarter

WalkingTown D.C. (September)

  • Thispopular annual event introduces people to the art, history, and culture of D.C. through a series of tours led by historians, licensed tour guides, community members, and docents.

D.C. Shorts Film Festival (September)

  • Spotlights independent short films with screenings and discussions with the filmmakers who created them. For more information about the event, visit their website.

The Marine Corps Marathon (October)

  • Military and civilian runners are welcome to this 26.2 mile race taking runners past DC’s most iconic landmarks. Not a runner? Spectators are always encouraged! For more information, visit their website.

Fotoweek D.C. (November)

  • Citywide celebration featuring 150+ exhibitions, programs, and events highlighting world-class photography.

National Christmas Tree Lighting (December)

  • Join the President and the First Family for this annual event! Free tickets are distributed via an online lottery in early October. Check out their website to find out the details.

Downtown Holiday Market (December)

  • More than 175 regional artisans, crafters and boutique businesses sell their wares at this festival holiday shopping “village”. It usually operates for thirty days beginning around Thanksgiving. While you’re shopping, enjoy lively seasonal entertainment, plus great snacks and festive treats. To learn more about location and operation dates, visit their website.

Winter Quarter

Chinese New Year Parade (January/February)

  • The parade is held in Chinatown on H Street, NW, between 6th and 7th Streets.The event features the traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Kung Fu demonstrations, and live musical entertainment. There is also an in-door festival hosted in Washington DC area by the Asian Community Service Center. Visit their website for more details on the parade and festival.

Clarendon Mardi Gras Parade (February)

  • This parade is held in Arlington,VA. It includes local community groups, horses, dogs, fire trucks, color masks, and plenty of Mardi Gras beads! Enjoy New Orleans-style food and contests as well. For more information on the dates and details, visit their website.

Cupid’s Undie Run (February)

  • In this unique charitable event, participants run a 1.75 mile lap in front of the US Capitol Building in their Valentine’s themed undies to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Join the run or cheer runners on as a spectator!

Saint Patrick's Day Parade (March)

  • In this parade, all things Irish come to the capital! Stop by for bagpipe bands, police and fire departments, Irish step dancers, music, culture, and fun!  The St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been held annually in Washington, D.C., since 1971. This annual affair has grown from what was little more than a leisurely stroll by a few hundred participants on Massachusetts Avenue to a mile long, two-hour celebration of Irish culture along Constitution Avenue. For information on the date and location, visit their website.

National Cherry Blossom Festival (March/April)

  • Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. There are several events in coordination with the month-long celebration. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit their website.

Spring Quarter

National Cherry Blossom Festival (March-April)

  • Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. There are several events in coordination with the month-long celebration. For more information, and to purchase tickets, visit their website.

White House Spring Garden Tour (April)

  • The White House Garden Tours have been a tradition since 1972 when Pat Nixon first opened the White House gardens to the public. Two weekends each year, visitors are invited to view the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden, Children's Garden and South Lawn of the White House.

White House Easter Egg Roll (Easter Monday)

  • The annual family event invites kids of all ages to hunt for and race Easter Eggs on the White House Lawn while enjoying a morning of storytelling and a visit with the Easter Bunny. Free tickets are required.

National Cathedral Flower Mart (May)

  • Washington Cathedral's annual outdoor festival for garden enthusiasts and families features annuals, perennials, landscape exhibits, Olmsted Woods and Garden Tours, and children's activities such as a rock wall, moon bounce, mini-Ferris wheel and a century-old restored carousel.

Mount Vernon's Wine Festival & Sunset Tours (May)

  • Celebrate the history of wine in Virginia with special evening tours of the Mansion and cellar, appearances by “George and Martha Washington”, and live music on the east lawn of George Washington's Mount Vernon home overlooking the scenic Potomac River.

Passport DC (May)

  • Washington, DC's embassies open their doors to the public during a two week event called Passport DC, a new annual celebration of international culture presented by Cultural Tourism DC. Passport DC will showcase Washington DC’s embassies and cultural organizations with a wide range of performances, talks, and exhibits. For more information, visit their website.

National Asian Heritage Festival - Fiesta Asia (May)

  • The street fair in celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month showcases Asian art and culture with live musical performances, Pan-Asian cuisine, martial arts and lion dance demonstration, a multicultural marketplace, cultural displays and interactive activities. For more information, visit their website.

Truckeroo (May-October, One Friday each month)

  • Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. There are several events in coordination with the month-long celebration. For more information, and to purhcase tickets, visit their website.

DC Jazz Festival (June)

  • The annual event features more than 100 jazz performances at concert venues and clubs throughout Washington, DC. Celebrating musical styles from Bebop and Blues to Swing, Soul, Latin and World music, the DC Jazz festival includes performances at the Kennedy Center, the Phillips Collection, on the National Mall, and at more than 30 museums, clubs, restaurants, and hotels.

Capital Pride (June)

  • The DC community comes together for the annual Capital Pride, a citywide celebration of LGBTQ rights and the continuing fight for them. This year’s signature events include a rooftop pool party (June 8), a block party (June 10), the popular Pride Parade (June 10) and the Pride Festival and Concert (June 11).

Summer Quarter

Truckeroo (May-October, One Friday each month)

  • Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries. There are several events in coordination with the month-long celebration. For more information, and to purhcase tickets, visit their website.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival (July)

  • The Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international and American cultures every year on the National Mall with craft exhibits, live music, cooking demos and an expansive marketplace full of pottery, books, textiles, toys, sculptures, clothing and more. This year, the festival celebrates its 50th anniversary with a focus on the evolution of circus arts and the importance of migration.

Fourth of July Celebrations (July)

  • Visit the Declaration of Independence, catch a free concert at the U.S. Capitol, watch the Independence Parade, and more!

  • Check out this article for 14 great spots to watch the D.C. Fireworks.

17th Street Festival (August)

  • This annual festival honors the incredible diversity of restaurants and retailers on 17th Street NW in Dupont Circle, as well as its communal vibe. More than 100 vendors will be on-hand showcasing their offerings and over 50 artists will display jewelry, crafts, fine art and more. There will also be live music, a kids’ zone featuring a moon bounce and a pet zone for those looking to shop or adopt a new pet!