There is a lot of literature and tourism material you can digest about our nation’s capital. That makes it difficult to write a meaningful post about my DC experiences which can convey an authentic feeling of discovery and expertise about the city. And yet I believe I have found a niche which has yet to be covered in any travel publication; a comprehensive review of our great city’s parking garages.
Although I sold my car last year, that hasn’t stopped me from doing the necessary research. I’ve ridden around in cars with friends, walked around in empty lots, taken in the view from upper levels, smelled the concrete for signs of wear and erosion. Here I have identified what I consider to be the cream of the crop, for all budget levels:
Nationals Ballpark Parking Garage
The official parking garage of the Washington Nationals.
This a great parking lot if you are coming in from out of town and need to find a convenient location near Nationals Ballpark and the surrounding area. The upper levels provide great views of the Anacostia River and the Ben Chili’s bowl located on the upper tier of the stadium.
Although the price is expensive, the lots are kept clean and really, if you’re going to spend $9 for a Coors Lite why not splurge on a $50 parking space as well? You can also probably purchase a multi-trip Parking Pass to get cheaper rates if you plan on return visits.
Amenities include giant steel baseballs, adjacent ticket window, and elevators down to street level.
Parking Lot at 17th and L Street
A “unique venue” located in the heart of downtown, this lot is within walking distance of a number of tourist attractions, including the White House, DuPont Circle, Farragut Square, Washington Circle, Thomas Circle, Franklin Square and a nearby Cosi.
The modernist architecture includes a spiral ramp in the center and the off-white facade doesn’t stain or spoil during spring rain showers. You pay for friendly service, as the gate staff is happy to assist you in finding the right spot on your windshield for the parking stub (all lots are non-smoking as well).
Rumors are this historic site is occasionally haunted by the ghosts of famous locals like James A Garfield and Chris Matthews.
Franconia Springfield Metro Garage
Convenient metro access and the white barrier fencing was designed by urban development architect Emmanuel Stephens.
This parking garage is kid-friendly, pet-friendly and for those of you who care about these things, lies just outside the Beltway. The glassed-in elevator bank goes all the way up to the fifth level.
Amenities include a trash-bin, recycling bin, local newspaper, Citypaper, a red box, a yellow box, something labelled “express”, a black box, and then some more boxes, one of which might carry the Washington Post.
Exiting vehicles must yield for pedestrian traffic.
Sibley Hospital Parking Garage
The no-frills open air design provides great views of the hospital complex, which provides service to Northwest DC and the surrounding area. Visitors can choose to park on one of the garage levels, or, if there is room, can find a space on the ground level lot below.
In the newer building, there’s an Au bon Pain and somewhere on the campus there’s probably a cafeteria.
As the best spots are reserved well ahead of time by hospital staff, this is probably an option best left for those who are visiting people at the hospital, or nearby friends in residential homes who probably work at an embassy.
The left side has great views of the nearby water treatment plant on the Maryland side of the border.
American University Students Parking Garage
If you’re a college student looking to avoid the pain in your wallet from shelling out $500 for the permanent parking access across the street, this is a great option. Located behind the Mary Graydon student center and across from the athletic center, this garage is the third tallest structure on campus and the “tunnel” directly below, with a Starbucks and “Eagle’s Nest”, is an important hub for campus life.
Ask your gate operator about shuttle service to historic Tenleytown and Ward Circle Park, a pile of grass in the middle of one of DC’s most adorably convoluted traffic rings.
PMS Parking Garage in nearby Baltimore is about 45 minutes from DC proper but has a funny name.