The U.S. capital spans 60-some square miles and has more than 700,000 people living in it, so it can be tough to get your bearings at first. Thankfully, there are at least a dozen Washington, D.C.-specific apps to help you navigate the city, whether it's a bike rental, a virtual tour guide, or a parking spot you're looking for. Gone are the days when travelers needed to read timetables at the bus stations, look at newspaper classifieds for the daily event calendar, and call in their own Chinese takeaway. You can do all of the above with a few easy clicks on your smartphone these days.
Driving the congested streets of the capital city can be one of the most difficult parts of visiting Washington, D.C. Thanks to its abundant bike lanes and the Capital Bikeshare app, though, getting from point A to point B doesn't have to be so daunting. This bikeshare system has more than 4,000 bicycles dispersed throughout the city's 500 stations. You can find bikes in seven jurisdictions, as far as the City of Falls Church, Virginia. Perfect for a quick, one-way trip across the city—which only costs a couple dollars—these bikes can be taken from and returned to any station.
Getting to know the public transportation system in any city is a feat, but luckily, there's an app for that here, too. The free DC Metro and Bus app is where you'll find real-time schedules for the Washington Metro, public buses, Arlington Transit, and the DC Circulator. On it, you can plan trips, access maps, get Metro alerts, and search for nearby stations and stops.
No need to scour all the local websites for something to do on a Friday night. Simply pull up the Got Eventz app and you'll hold all the intel on sporting events, concerts, happy hours, and more in the palm of your hand. The app even features places to find a late-night bite, open mics, farmers markets, and restaurant specials.
When Google Maps, Apple Maps, MAPS.ME, and Waze are all taking you in different directions, you can count on iTrans to give you the fastest route between any two Metro stations (because the art of changing trains and buses in a big city deserves an app of its own). iTrans uses the most up-to-date schedules and can provide offline directions, too.
Like the DC Metro and Bus app, MetroMinder DC allows frequent riders of the Metro Rail to track trips, plan commutes, and monitor train performance. The app tracks every active passenger train running on each line in real time and gives each train a unique trip ID. MetroMinder then uses this to help riders optimize and plan their commutes.
Winos and partygoers might want to take the time to add this alcohol delivery app to their phones before embarking on a night out in Washington, D.C. Available on web, iOS, and Android, the Minibar app matches you with a nearby vendor, then gives you virtual access to its inventory. You can place your order of wine, beer, mixers, and spirits for free (but do leave a tip) and have them at your door within 60 minutes. The minimum order is $25.
Now that your libations are taken care of, let's talk food. Washington, D.C., is home to some true culinary gems, but getting a reservation at one of them can be tricky, especially when you must call around to one at a time and decide which restaurant fits best with your schedule. OpenTable does all the dirty work for you. You can see openings at Washington, D.C.'s best restaurants and book one that's closest to you right from your phone.
Carrying cash is so archaic now that you can purchase just about anything with a credit card or Apple Pay. Parking meters (along with public laundry machines) are among the last coin-operated things on the planet, it seems, but in Washington, D.C., you can pay for them the modern way, via the Parkmobile app. This resource for finding and paying for parking is available in more than 600 cities across the U.S.
People come from all over the country (and, well, the world) to visit the capital's world-class museums. It would take several days to see everything the famous Smithsonians have on display and that's exactly why this virtual visitors guide is so great. This way, you can plan your itinerary and locate all the artifacts you want to see more easily. It also contains custom-built and themed tours, navigational tools, maps, and museum floor plans.
Keep up with daily D.C. happenings via the Washington Post app. Good to keep in your lineup wherever you are in the country, this local and global news source is especially useful when visiting the capital, from which it hails. You can save articles to read offline, share content via social media, and get breaking news alerts.