Parking in any city is difficult but with rush hour restrictions, security enforcement and traffic, it is especially hard in DC. This post will help you figure out the best places to park on the National Mall, Capitol Hill, Georgetown and more.
But if you're going to need to park in DC, here are a few tips.
1. Find a Parking Spot in DC with SpotHero
Sometimes it is easier to not worry about cruising up and down the street looking for a spot big enough to parallel park in that isn't limited to 2 hours.
You will see a lot of (confusing) parking signs in DC regarding street parking, but one to note is the time limit. Parking Zones (basically neighborhoods) are limited to 2 hours. This doesn't mean you can move your car to a different spot, you're only meant to park in that neighborhood for 2 hours.
SpotHero partners with garages, parking lots and sometimes even individuals with driveways to offer discounted parking spots reserved in advance. It's a quick and easy to use app that we personally use when we drive around the city, too.
This is an affiliate link, which means we get a commission if you choose to use it (or when we use it because it really is sometimes the easiest way for us to park too!
2. Get the ParkMobile App
The ParkMobile App is the easiest way to pay for metered street parking (and some parking garages).
Parking signs and machines will have the Zone Number listed for you to quickly type in. Sometimes you'll have a specific spot number as well.
Select which vehicle you are using and how long you'll be parking and voila! Go enjoy your tour.
You can even select reminders for when your parking is almost up and you can add more time from your phone. No more going back to put quarters in the meter!
3. All Day Parking Options in DC
If you aren't planning on driving around and want to park in one place all day, there are a few options.
Despite not being Metro Center (that's the name of one of our stations), this is the center of the Metro. You'll be able to access all the lines, walk to the Wharf, the Museums, the Tidal Basin.
This is a good central location because you can easily hop on a Metro, a Circulator, a hop on hop off bus or just walk to the Capitol from here.
Pentagon City Mall
This parking lot is not located in DC technically, but just across the river in Arlington. There is a Metro station underneath the shopping mall to get you to Downtown DC quickly.
Any Suburban Metro Garage
You can also park at any of the Metro garages in the DC suburbs and take the metro into the city. You will sometimes find that these parking garages are free on the weekends!
4. Where to Park
Parking On the National Mall
If you're joining our National Mall tour, we usually park along Constitution Ave between 15th and 23rd St NW (but pay attention to rush hour restrictions) or on Ohio Drive SW by the MLK Memorial - its not a far walk to the tour start or from the tour end and there are no rush hour restrictions. If you're taking our National Mall & Tidal Basin tour, the parking lot at Hains Point is a great option.
There is limited parking on the National Mall. There are no parking garages or lots on really near the National Mall.
SpotHero has a few parking spots in the area south of the National Mall that are a close walk to the Museums, but not to the memorials.
On-Street Parking on the main roads around the National Mall is restricted during morning (7am - 930am) and evening (4pm - 630pm) rush hours.
Constitution Ave NW and Independence Ave SW run the length of the National Mall east to west. 1st Street NW to 17th Street NW cross the National Mall north to south. Many of these have paid street parking that are subject to rush hour restrictions.
These are paid spots. You can use the parking machines along the road or use the Parkmobile App. They do not accept cash, so plan on using a credit card or the app.
You can also find spots on the interior streets in front of the museums on the Mall.
Jefferson Street and Madison Street both have some parking, but you have to be lucky. Especially in Spring when the buses like to park here.
Hains Point/East Potomac Parking Lots
There are 320 spots on Hains Point, near the Jefferson Memorial (map).
This is a great option if you don't mind walking as it is more than a mile to the Smithsonian Museums.
Where to Park on Capitol Hill
If you're joining our Capitol Hill tour, Metro is the easiest since we meet outside the Capitol South Metro stop. If we're just there for a 2 hour tour, we usually find street parking in the residential area around East Capitol Street and 3rd St but that is a walk to get to the tour meeting spot and then back after the tour end.
With security restrictions around Capitol Hill, there isn't much visitor parking near the Capitol Building, Library of Congress or Supreme Court. Street parking near these locations are reserved.
You can find street parking in some of the residential areas not far from Capitol Hill, just remember that they are limited to 2 hours. East Capitol Street and New Jersey Street SE are good places to look for spots.
SpotHero offers a few garages and personal parking spots in the area.
You can also find parking at Union Station. This is a 10-15 minute walk to Capitol Hill.
Union Station paid parking garage is also pretty much the only option if your have an oversized vehicle.
Parking Near the White House
If you're joining one of our downtown tours, like Lincoln's Assassination, we usually just find a cheap garage downtown using SpotHero. There is even a garage next to Ford's Theatre where we end the tour. But there are many garages halfway around 12-14th ST NW that make it an easy walk to the tour start and back after.
There are a lot of street parking options around the White House and Downtown DC.
Keep in mind that spots are metered and some streets have rush hour restrictions.
You can easily (in fact, we have many many times) drive around for 30 minutes before you find a spot. There are a lot of parking garages downtown! (Use SpotHero to reserve a spot!)
Or check out some of the hotel valets. Sometimes they are not that much more expensive but you avoid the tight turns of an underground parking garage.
The Willard Hotel has a surprisingly affordable valet option for non-guests and you enter and exit via the beautiful lobby of the hotel.
Where to Park in Georgetown
For guests on our Georgetown tours, we usually find street parking in the residential area west of Wisconsin Ave NW and north of M Street NW.
The further away you get from the two main roads of M Street and Wisconsin Ave, the easier it is to find a street spot.
Neighborhood spots are limited to 2 hours so if you plan on spending the entire day in Georgetown for a tour, lunch and some shopping, it is better to use metered spots near the waterfront or a parking garage.
SpotHero has many garages near the waterfront.
Where to Park at Arlington National Cemetery
This is probably the easiest one. There is a parking lot!
The Arlington Cemetery parking lot is a paid hourly lot and you can park there all day.
However, it does close shortly after the cemetery closes so don't plan to park there in the evening.