/ The DC Traveler

Getting Around Washington, DC – Circulator Update

Getting around Washington, DC can be challenging by car, especially for tourists. Add in traffic, a nightmarish rush hour and limited parking makes it smart to leave the car at home.

Hopping in a taxi is easy, but expensive.  Parking can run $20 or more a day.  So what’s a great way to get around the major tourist areas of the District?

Take a big red bus of the Washington DC Circulator.

Circulator Bus in Washington, DCThere are five routes, including two new Circulator routes, that you can ride for just $1.00. Click here for a route map.

The five Circulator Routers are:

    1) Smithsonian – National Gallery of Art Convention Center
    2) SW Waterfront
    3) Georgetown – Union Station
    4) Woodley Park – Adams Morgan – McPherson Square (new)
    5) Union Station – Navy Yard and National Park (new)

Smithsonian – National Gallery of Art
This Circulator bus route is ideal for the weekend Mall visitor.  It circles the National Mall from 4th Street to 17th Street along Constitution and Independence Avenues.

The Circulator stops close to virtually every major monument ion the Mall.  The longest walks are (about 4 blocks) to the Capitol building from the furthest east end of the route and (about 7 blocks) to the Lincoln Memorial from the furthest west end of the route at the National World War II Memorial.  The Circulator also stops just a short walk from the White House.

  • Hours – Weekends only – 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Convention Center – SW Waterfront
Captain White Seafood on the DC Southeast Waterfront This route runs from the DC Convention Center through Chinatown, near the Spy Museum and National Portrait Gallery, though the National Mall to the SW Waterfront restaurant district and the Washington Fish Market.

  • Hours – Daily – 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Georgetown – Union Station
This Circulator bus runs from Union Station up Massachusetts Avenue to K Street and into the heart of Georgetown, then north on Wisconsin Avenue to just past T Street.  It then turns around andUnion Station retraces its path.

This route also passes the DC Convention Center and is ideal for visiting the restaurants and bars downtown, in Chinatown and in Georgetown. It also stops just 7 blocks from Dupont Circle.

  •  Hours – Daily – 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., with additional after hours service from the Whitehaven stop, through Georgetown to 17th & I Streets available until Midnight, Sundays-Thursdays, and until 2:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

The two new routes, launched early in April 2009 are:

Woodley Park – Adams Morgan to McPherson Square Metro

This new route links Logan Circle with Woodley Park near the National Zoo, and passed through the heart of Adams Morgan.

  • Hours – Daily – 7:00 am – midnight, until 3:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays

Union Station – Navy Yard and National Park – SE Waterfront

The other new route runs from Union Station, past the U.S. Capitol to near the Navy Yard and Nationals Park on S. Capitol Street.

  • Hours – Daily – 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.  Extended hours when major events and baseball games are held at Nationals Park.

DC Circulator BusCirculator Schedules – Circulator busses run approximately every 10 minutes, but each route has its own hours of operation, and not all run 7 day-a-week.

Circulator Stops - Circulator busses stop every couple blocks. Look for the red & white Circulator signs.

Circulator Fares

  • Adult & Children – $1.00, Seniors & disabled – 50¢ – Exact change or dollar bills required or Metro SmarTrip Cards 
  • Washignton DC Metro fare card SmarTripTransferring from Metro subway using SmarTrip Cards – 50¢
  • Transferring from Metro bus using SmarTrip Cards – Free
  • One Day Circulator Passes – $3.00 and are available at the green multi-space parking meters located along Circulator routes.

Image – personal collection – ©2008, Jon Rochetti



  • Glenn says:

    The route mentioned above is the Convention Center SW Waterfront, not SE. The Fish Market pictured is in Southwest, DC. SE has a waterfront from the Ball Park to north of the Navy Yard. It is being developed now, but has no businesses on it. The oldest waterfront in DC is the Southwest Waterfront (slated for a 1.8 billion dollar makeover).

  • Emily says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s super helpful. I had no idea the Circulator ran all the way out to the Waterfront. I took the Circulator last night for the first time from McPherson Square up to U-Street. It was a fabulous experience: $1 and 5-minutes later, we were on 14th and U Street.

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