Its that special time again! That uniquely American moment that we get every four years: The Presidential Inauguration. Living around DC, we often get used to the extraordinary things that happen every day like a Presidential Motorcade or Marine One Landing. Those are the things that make our time in DC really special. But the one thing locals and visitors alike get excited for is the Inauguration. Its really a whole weekend unlike any other. So, we’ve got a few tips for those that may be experiencing the Inauguration for the first time or maybe some ideas for those veteran Inauguration goers.
If it’s your inaugural inauguration, here’s some things to keep in mind for the day of:
- Don’t Drive Anywhere near downtown. In fact… don’t drive at all. There are more road closures than we can count and traffic will be a nightmare. Its going to be tough to get around in any sense on Monday, but its the worst when you try to drive.
- If you are traveling by Metro anywhere, remember to give yourself some extra time. Inauguration day is one of the biggest Metro days all year and they will be running extra trains from 4am to 9pm on the day. But, the crowds will be big and certain stations will be closed (namely the National Archives and Mt. Vernon Square). And great news if you plan on going out after: the Metro won’t close till 2am!
- Security is probably going to be on high alert many places you go. Guys, its a good idea to leave the pocket knife behind. Ladies, there may be metal detectors in nearly any building you go into (careful about how much jewelry you wear).
- There will be security screening to watch the inaugural parade on Pennsylvania Avenue. This typically means bottles of water and any weapons will not be let through. It’s recommended you pack light.
- Amtrak will be running into Union Station on Inauguration Day, but expect delays!
- Dress for the weather. Any of you who went to the Inauguration in 2008 can attest: DC in January isn’t too warm. Wear a lot of layers and be sure you keep moving. Be on the look out for the signs of hypothermia.
- After the Parade, you probably want to plan on staying in the city. Visit a museum, try and grab lunch/dinner, or just walk around; but, let the crowd thin out a bit before you try to make your way out of the city.
- About.com has a great map featuring restricted roads and access around the Parade Route: you can check it out here.
- The Inauguration: Other than your Senator or Congressman’s, nobody can give or sell you tickets to the Inauguration ceremony, so don’t be fooled by people selling them. If you’re like most people in DC, you will probably be watching the Inauguration on TV. That TV just may be on the National Mall surrounded by up to a million of your closest friends. The earlier you arrive to the Mall, the closer you will be, but keep in mind, it may still be tough to see the President who will be up on the West steps of the Capitol Building. The actual ceremony is slated to begin at 11:30.
- The Inaugural Parade: The Parade route covers all of Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol. Starting at 2:30pm at the Capitol Building, the parade is about two hours long (sometimes even longer). Space is limited on the street, so if you would really like to see the parade, its recommended you don’t go to the Mall for the Inauguration. By the time to ceremony is over, there may not be any standing room on the parade route. Or, a little known secret is that the Parade Dress Rehearsal is scheduled for Sunday January 13th at 8am so you can get a sneak peak at the acts before the real thing.
- Inaugural Balls: Always the hottest ticket in towns. This inauguration tradition features the state society throwing balls in honor of the Inauguration of the President. The President typically only visits a few (usually his home state and the Vice President’s home state ball). But, they are all open to the public. The big name in Inaugural Balls is Texas’ Black Tie and Boots. Over 15,000 came to the 2009 Black Tie and Boots. But there are dozens of other great parties out there with tickets still available. For info on the Inaugural Balls, the Washington Post has you covered right here.
- Parties: Left your tux and evening gown at home? Is your trust fund all tied up in equities right now? No problem, there is still fun to be had on Inauguration night without the pomp and circumstance of an official Inaugural Ball. One of our favorite places in DC, Hill Country BBQ, will be open till 4am with Live Band Karaoke (always a fun time). And, a little secret about Hill Country: if you are going to the parade or the Mall, stop by their window on 7th street for Hot Chocolate or Breakfast Tacos (2 for $5). Maybe you are looking for something to wet your whistle? Well the beer heaven on 14th Street that is Churchkey is holding their Brewers Ball with heads of all the major area brewing companies. For more info on this and other parties around DC on Inauguration Night, the Washington Post has you covered yet again.
- Just a casual night out: Many bars will be open till 4am all this week and until next Tuesday morning! Check out Adams Morgan, U Street, Georgetown, Capitol Hill or the up and coming Atlas District. No matter where you go, there will be a lot of fun.
No matter what you do this Inauguration weekend, be safe. If you are going out at night, please call a taxi or, we highly recommend calling an Uber. Uber is a great car service program here in DC (and around the country). Download their app for your phone, call up a luxury car. They also just teamed up with the DC Taxi’s to provide hassle free cab ordering on your iPhone or Android.
Happy Inauguration Week everyone!