First opened in 1907, the D.C. area’s largest train station is the headquarters for Amtrak, the busiest station on the Metrorail’s Red Line, and a shopping and dining destination. Set just five blocks from the U.S. Capitol Building, this sprawling warren of specialty boutiques, food courts and elegant restaurants beneath soaring, gilded ceilings and Grecian arches makes for an easy stop amidst sightseeing in Federal Triangle, on Capitol Hill, and in Chinatown and Penn Quarter.
Union Station reached its peak in popularity during and immediately following World War II, but after a failed attempt to turn it into a popular National Visitors Center in the 1970s, it was refurbished and re-launched in its present form in 1988. Since then, the train station has been used by an average of 1o,000 Amtrak travelers per year, headed to and from destinations all over the country.
A variety of city tours depart from the Main Hall at the station’s street level, including Old Town Trolley Tours and Open Top Sightseeing, but guided tours of Union Station itself are not offered. To get a different view of the station, visit the popular outdoor market held here each April through October, Monday – Saturday from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Located on the Metrorail Red Line, there is also a large public parking lot on the premises of Union Station; with validation, up to two hours’ parking costs $1.