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I'm visiting Washington DC in the near future and am thinking of visiting the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. Since it's located a bit outside the city I'm wondering what's the best way to get there?

The museum itself suggests taking the Metro (Metrorail) and then switching to a bus (1h30min single trip). Is there a faster/simpler way to get there?

I've been thinking of renting a car. If so, is there anything else that could be interesting to visit nearby or on the route out there?

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    It's adjacent to Dulles Airport, so if you are flying in or out of Dulles, it might be convenient to visit the center at the very beginning or end of your stay. – Nate Eldredge Jan 25 '17 at 21:06
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    A taxi, Uber, or Lyft might be a cheaper alternative to renting a car and paying for parking at the museum, depending on what kind of car rental prices you get. It's worth considering if you were just going to rent a car to get out to the museum, to save the hassle of picking up and dropping off the rental if nothing else. – Zach Lipton Jan 26 '17 at 2:59
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As another answer has suggested, you can certainly make a day of having the car, some other potential points of interest being Manassas Battlefield Park, Great Falls Park, or a concert at Wolf Trap.

But while admission to the Udvar-Hazy Center itself is free, parking is $15, on top of rental fees, taxes, insurance, and fuel. If you take the Dulles Toll Road, that's another $3.50. The drive averages 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic, and you need to factor in time to pick up and drop off the car. If your only interest is the museum, therefore, you're paying a significant premium to save a couple of hours, one that not everyone may be willing to pay.

A cab wouldn't really be cheaper. Even Uber is currently estimating $40-$50 each way for a midday weekday ride from L'Enfant Plaza to the Udvar-Hazy Center. You might therefore consider a couple of single-transfer public transportation options:

  • Silver Line Metro to Wiehle Reston-East, transfer to the Fairfax Connector bus 983. From L'Enfant Plaza, each way, this takes between 90 and 120 minutes and costs $4.85 total off-peak, $7.15 regular, with a SmarTrip card.
  • Metrobus 5A to Herndon-Monroe, transfer to Fairfax Connector bus 983. From L'Enfant, each way, this takes about 90 minutes and costs $7 one-way with a SmarTrip card.

Without a SmarTrip, you will not receive any transfer discount, and will need to pay the full $1.75 for the Fairfax Connector 983 bus.

In between these options, you could take the train out to Wiehle-Reston, $3.60 off-peak or $5.90 regular, and grab a taxi or Uber/Lyft/etc there for $20-30.

Despite the proximity of the museum to the airport, there is no way to walk or bicycle between the two, so for those trying to visit while on a layover at Dulles, your options are similarly the 983 bus or a car, which runs $15-25. In some travel guides you may find reference to other shuttles or buses, but at this writing, they have all been discontinued except the FfC 983.

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I've lived in the DC Metro region for over 20 years, and the Dulles corridor is rather hard to get around by public transportation right now. This is due to change soon when Metrorail's Silver Line is extended to Dulles Airport.

Renting a car for the day is a good option. A good way to get there from DC is to take I-66 west to Virginia Route 28. Take 28 north. Dulles Airport and the Udvar-Hazy Center are just off 28.

The Udvar-Hazy Center is almost literally across the street (Virginia State Route 28) from the Sully Historic Site (Google Maps link), a preserved 19th century plantation. This was a major operating farm before the US Civil War and slavery was practiced here (see the park service link), so keep that in mind if you are sensitive.

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Source: Fairfax County Park Authority

You might also consider visiting the NRA National Firearms Museum (Google Maps link) at NRA Headquarters in Fairfax (about halfway from DC to Dulles) near I-66 if you like guns. This is very convenient to I-66. Get off I-66 to US Route 50 eastbound and turn left (north) on Waples Mill Road.

If you need to do any shopping, you can get off I-66 to US Route 50 westbound to Fair Oaks Mall. It's less than five minutes down US 50.

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