If you find yourself at Washington’s Dulles International Airport with a few hours to kill between flights, or heaven forbid, a cancelled flight and a long delay before you can rebook, don’t despair. Rather than fuming in a waiting area, this is a good opportunity to get to know the national capitol area, or experience some of the fine dining opportunities in and around Washington, DC.
Dulles, located in Sterling, Virginia, just outside the Washington Beltway (I-495), has an official taxi service, Washington Flyer, that can get you to a number of local sights, or places to just relax and have a good meal. The ride from Dulles to downtown Washington, depending on traffic is from 45 to 90 minutes, and is about $60 one-way. Getting back is just as easy. You can catch a metered cab almost anywhere in downtown and the return fare is about the same as the ride into town. You can also catch Metrorail’s Orange Line to Rosslyn and get a bus or taxi to the airport. That way is about $20 cheaper, but will take you up to an hour and a half.
The National Mall in downtown is home to many of the national museums and monuments, all with free admission. If you want to explore the area near the airport, there are a number of hotels and restaurants within a five or six mile radius. The Washington Dulles Marriott Hotel, located on the airport campus, has restaurants and a lounge which are nice places to kick back and relax as you wait for your flight.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum, at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway in Chantilly, is adjacent to the airport, and is open from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm every day except Christmas Day. The Udvar Center, opened in December 2003, houses a variety of aviation and space artifacts that are too large for the downtown museum. There is a shuttle from the Dulles main terminal to and from the center. In the nearby town of Chantilly, there is the Sully Historical Site, which showcases 19th life in Virginia. It is a very short and inexpensive cab ride from the main terminal.
The Washington area has a variety of international restaurants, and many of them are located near Dulles Airport.
In Ashburn, Virginia, you can find Matsutake Japanese Grill and Restaurant, Banjara (an Indian restaurant), and Anita’s (offering Mexican food). Anita’s is also located in Chantilly and Herndon. If our preference is American food, there is McCormick & Schmick’s seafood restaurant in Reston, and TGI Friday’s in the airport and most of the towns around the airport. The town of Chantilly has over 100 restaurants to choose from, and it is just minutes from the terminal.