Union Station: Washington DC (Trains, Parking, & More)

All About the Train Station, Shopping, and Restaurants

Washington Union Station
Travelpix Ltd / Getty Images

Union Station is Washington DC's train station and premier shopping mall, which also serves as a venue for world-class exhibitions and international cultural events. The historic building was built in 1907 and is considered to be one of the finest examples of the Beaux-Arts style of architecture with its 96-foot barrel-vaulted ceilings, stone inscriptions and expensive materials such as white granite, marble and gold leaf. It is a beautiful building and its construction was a major milestone in the development of the core area of the nation's capital.

(Read more about the history below)

Today, Union Station is among the most visited destinations in Washington, DC with over 25 million visitors a year — that includes both travelers passing through and tourists who make a point to visit this beautiful terminal.

History

Union Station was built in 1907 as part of the McMillan Plan, an architectural plan for the City of Washington that was created to improve upon the original city plan that was designed by Pierre L’Enfant in 1791, to surround public buildings with landscaped parks and open spaces. At the time there were two train stations that were located within a half a mile of one another. Union Station was built to consolidate the two stations and make room for the development of the National MallRead more about the history of the National Mall.

 In 1912, the Christopher Columbus Memorial Fountain and Statue was built at the front entrance of the station.

As air travel became popular, train travel declined and Union Station began to age and deteriorate. In the 1970s, the building was uninhabitable and in danger of demolition. The building was designated as a historic landmark and completely restored in 1988. It was transformed into a transportation terminal, commercial center and venue for special exhibits as it stands today. Future plans for improvements to the station continue to evolve.

The book, "Images of Rail: Union Station in Washington DC," includes 200 historical images of the city of Washington, Union Station and the region’s railroads.

Trains and Waiting Rooms

Union Station is the rail station for Amtrak, MARC Train (Maryland Rail Commuter Service) and VRE (Virginia Railway Express). It's a popular destination for customers traveling north from D.C. to Boston, NYC, and Philadelphia. Midwest routes travel from D.C. to Cincinnati, Indiana, Chicago, or head southbound to Richmond, Raleigh, and Charlotte. Check Amtrack's website for complete schedules and destinations. 

Upstairs in the parking garage, buses like Bolt Bus, Megabus, Greyhound, Peter Pan, DC2NY, and Washington Deluxe depart to destinations like NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, and beyond. 

Bus patrons can wait upstairs in a new waiting area that's covered from the element. There's plenty of space within the terminal near the tracks for patrons to wait.

Transportation

There's a Washington Metro stop at Union Station, for those who want to go in to the city and throughout the D.C. area. Taxis are easy to hail from the front of the station as well.

Address:
50 Massachusetts Avenue, NE.
Washington, DC 20007
(202) 289-1908
See a map

Metro: Located on Metro’s Red Line.
Parking:
More than 2,000 parking spaces. Rates: $4.95-$72. The parking garage is open 24 hours, 7 days a week. Access is from H St., NE.

Shopping, Restaurants and More Things to Do at Union Station

You will find 130 stores at Union Station featuring everything from men’s and women’s fashion to jewelry to decorative arts to games and toys. The Food Court at Union Station with outposts like Chipotle and Bojangles is a great place to enjoy a snack or take the whole family for a quick and inexpensive meal. Full service restaurants include Johnny Rockets, Pizzeria Uno, Chop't, Roti Mediterranean Grill, Thunder Grill and Shake Shack. 

For shopping, there are women's clothing stores like Victoria's Secret, Accessorize and H&M, while men's clothing stores include Jos. A Bank. It's fun to shop for cosmetics here too with stores like MAC, Bluemercury and The Body Shop. There are also stores where you can grab a souvenir like America! Travelers will appreciate stores like Hudson and EZ Travel Solutions for books and travel essentials.

Where to Stay Nearby

Staying in Capital Hill is very convenient to Union Station; it's just a quick cab ride away. Here's a rundown of 12 hotels in and around the Capitol Hill neighborhood, from luxury hotels like the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and more budget-friendly options like the Residence Inn.

What to Do Nearby

Union Station is located in the heart of Washington, DC, near the U. S. Capitol Building and convenient to many hotels and tourist attractions. Conveniently, sightseeing tours like the Gray Line, Big Bus, and DC Ducks depart from Union Station as well.

What Else To Know

Hours:
Shops: Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. -9 p.m. Sunday Noon – 6 p.m.
Food Court: Monday - Friday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 9 p.m., Sunday, 7 a.m. - 6 p.m., some vendor hours may vary.