Local Information

SPAA / PODC 2017
Washington, D.C., USA

Washington, DC

Washington is the capital city of the United States. It has many museums, restaurants, monuments, and a Metro (subway) system. The area around the conference venue and most neighborhoods visited by tourists should be relatively safe, but this is still a city so be aware of your surroundings.

Museums and Monuments. All of the Smithsonian museums are free to enter. The Smithsonian system includes many popular museums, such as the Museum of Natural History, Air and Space Museum, National Gallery of Art, and the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. The monuments are also free to enter and walk around.

Most of the museums and monuments are located along the National Mall, which spans roughly 2 miles in the east-west direction stretching from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol building. Our conference venue is about a 0.7 miles north of the west end of the National Mall. Walking down to some monuments (such as the Lincoln Memory and Vietnam Memorial) would certainly be feasible. The museums are mostly located in the east half of the mall, so you may rather take transit to get to those.

Restaurants. Lunches are provided during SPAA/PODC, but there are also a few fast-casual spots nearby if you feel like getting away. As for dinners, unless you're hitting one of the larger more touristy restaurants or a fast casual spot, keep in mind that many of the restaurants can be very busy, and many cannot seat large parties. Make reservations! Even for a party of 2, it can be difficult to walk-in and get seated (without a long wait) at the more popular spots. With a party of 6 or 8, it would be virtually impossible. Many restaurants do have tables available day of, so same-day dinner reservations are generally possible. A good fraction of the restaurants use OpenTable for reservations, so you may want to download that app. If there's a more popular venue that you really want to try, you should book far in advance.

Conference Venue

The conferences, receptions, and workshops will be held in the Marvin Center at The George Washington University, located at 800 21st St NW. For a map to the location, click here (map).

The nearest Metro station is Foggy Bottom, located about 2 blocks away. Foggy Bottom is basically on the edge of downtown, so depending on the direction you head you will see a lot of big boxy office buildings as well as row houses. As already noted, the National Mall is about 0.7 miles south of the venue, and the White House is also about 0.7 miles to the east.

Banquet. The banquet will be located at Bobby Van's Grill (1201 New York Ave). The walk from the conference venue to the Banquet is about a mile, and the natural walk will pass directly in front of the White House.

Climate

In July, the weather in DC is usually warm to hot and humid. The average temperature ranges from 71–88 °F (22–31 °C), but there is a lot of variance so check the weather forecast.

Getting to DC

Airports
DC is serviced by three major airports. If you're connecting through a US city, the closest and easiest airport is the Reagan National Airport (DCA). If you want a direct flight from a non-US city, the big international airport is the Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD). IAD has direct flights to/from many major airport around the world. The third airport is the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). BWI is the least conveniently located of the three for our venue, and transit from the airport will be more expensive than that other two.

Ground transportation: DCA to DC. DCA airport is serviced by a Metro station as well as taxis. A taxi ride to the conference venue / hotels should cost about $15 + tip and take about 15 minutes assuming light traffic. At rush hour, it can take much longer. The taxi queue should be clearly marked, and all taxis should accept credit cards; they do recommend, however, telling the dispatcher if you will pay by credit.
Alternatively, there is a Metro station adjoining the airport terminal; take the Metro blue line to Foggy Bottom Station for about $2.15–2.60 depending on time of day. More on metro below.

Ground transportation: IAD to DC. The taxis at IAD are all branded as "Washington Flyer" taxis, with a stand/queue down the ramps from baggage claim. A ride to the conference venue / hotels should cost about $60–70 + tip and take about 40 minutes depending on time of day. As above, all taxis should accept credit cards, but they recommend telling the dispatcher that you plan on paying by credit.
IAD is also serviced by some shared-ride vans such as SuperShuttle, with a fixed price of $30 plus $10 per additional passenger in your group.
There is no Metro station at the airport, but there is a bus (Washington Flyer Bus) that goes to the nearest Metro station every 15 minutes or so. The bus costs $5 and the ride on the metro is $3.60–5.90 depending on time of day. You're probably looking at something like 1 hour and 15 minutes for this route. More on metro below.

Ground transportation: BWI to DC. Taxis from BWI are likely to cost over $100 + tip and take about an hour in light traffic. Moreover, (at least last I checked) not all taxis are equipped with credit-card readers, so you do need to verify that the taxi can accept credit before getting in.
There are shared-ride vans available for about $40 give or take. See the airport website for more details: BWI ground transportation.
It is also possible to get from BWI to our venue by transit, starting with a MARC or Amtrak train then connecting to Metro. See the airport website for more details. The trip would take about 1.5 hours and cost on the order of $20–25.

Car rental. Keep in mind that conference venue is in downtown DC, and the hotels and public lots generally charge very high prices (on the order of $20–40 per day, and most don't allow re-entry, i.e., you have to pay again each time you park). Once in DC, you are likely better off getting around by taxis or other public transit. But all of the airports have rental-car options; see the airport websites linked above.

Getting Around DC

Public transit in DC consists of Metrobus, Metrorail (subway), and Circulator branded buses. There are several bus routes near the conference venue that go to popular areas; there is a trip planner available here, but this planner does not cover Circulator buses. Trip planning on, e.g., Google maps, is also a good option. (Most) buses and trains are equipped with GPS locators; the TransitApp is one of many apps that interfaces with the database to give you current bus locations, routes, and expected wait times.

It should generally be possible to hail taxis on the street in denser areas, such as the conference venue. Uber and Lyft (ride-hailing services) are also options using apps on your mobile device.

Paying for subway and bus. If using public transit, you should get a SmarTrip card. It is possible to pay by cash on buses, but the fare is higher and they do not provide change. For Metrorail, the card is required. The card is essentially a rechargable debit card, where you prepay to load some value onto the card. You can purchase a SmarTrip card in any Metrorail station, or you can get one online online ahead of time. (The card itself cost $2 in addition to the fare you load.)

Metrorail charges different prices depending on how far you go, so you must hold your card over the fare reader both when entering and exiting the metro stations. Most short trips within the city will cost $2.15 (peak) or $1.75 (off peak).

You can also use your SmarTrip card on both Metrobus and Circulator branded buses by holding your card over the fare reader when boarding. Circulator buses cost $1, and the Metrobus costs $1.75. You can transfer across buses for 2 hours if paying with a SmarTrip card, but transferring from bus to rail or vice versa is not free.

Metrorail. Metro is sort of a hybrid between a commuter rail and a subway system, more like say the BART in San Francisco than the subway in New York. The headways between trains are reasonably good during rush hours, but they can be poor at off times of day. See timetable for estimated headways. The nearest Metro station to the conference venue is Foggy Bottom, which is on the Blue, Orange, and Silver lines. All three of these lines overlap in the core of the city. Farragut North is also walkable if you want to pick-up the Red Line. Taking any other lines likely involves an in-station transfer (free). An interactive rail map is available here.

Hotel Accommodation

We have arranged a block of rooms at a discounted rate at two hotels in the area. There are many other hotels in the area, but their rates are likely to be higher.

Hotel Lombardy is about a block away from the conference venue, and the conference rate is $179/night. You can make reservations by following this link

Embassy Row Hotel is available at the conference rate of $159/night. This hotel is further from the venue (located in Dupont Circle, about a 15 minute walk) but closer to other nightlife, activities, and restaurants. You can make reservations by following this link

Visas

If you need a visa to attend the conference, ACM can issue a visa support letter for you. Click here for more information.

Contact Information

For queries regarding local arrangements, please contact Jeremy Fineman (Jeremy.Fineman@georgetown.edu).