We have an 8 hour layover at Dulles airport for an international trip leaving at 5:40 p.m. Is this enough time to explore a city sight or two....say the new American Indian museum and make it back to the airport, go back through security and make our flights without having a stress attack?
Probably not. Dulles Airport is far from everything in DC like the National Museum of the American Indian - it is way out in Virginia - 30 miles. By the time the plane landed and you got off and found the local transportation it would be at least half an hour. And it takes at least an hour to get from the airport to DC. So that is an hour and a half. You would have maybe an hour to do the museum and then you go back an hour to the airport would have to go through security again two hours before your flight out. You might be able to get to Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center part of the National Air and Space Museum or Sully Plantation, but personally I'd check into a local hotel and take a nap.
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I would say NO!!!! Way too much stress, traffic would be very unpredictable and you'd barely visit before getting back on the road.
If you would like to get away from the airport then yes, definitely go to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy CenterIt is a fascinating place and as mentioned, it is a part of the National Air and Space Museum which is one of the most visited museums in the city. You could also get lunch there before heading back to the airport. The airport is very close to the center.
Travel safe and enjoy your trip!
Dulles Airportis about 26 miles west of Washington, DC. You might want to check out Silver Line Express Bus that connects between Dulles and Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station and Metro's Silver Line.
For fares, schedule and meeting points, go to Dulles Airport's website.
It takes around an hour using the bus and train from Dulles to National Mall, DC. So you may have a little time to explore the American Indian Museum. I suggest calling 703-572-7661, the Dulles Airport hotline, for more info.
Also read Top Five Attractions Near Dulles Airport, an article on VisitTheUSA's website.
In short: If your layover is at Dulles Airport (IAD), don't try. If your layover is at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), definitely you can fit in one museum and a pleasant walk around the United States Capitol side of the mall without straining. Without having a stress attack, as you said. The longer answer - there are variables that *greatly* affect time that you didn't mention (which airport, what day of the week, how much time you like to spend in a museum). Let's say you spend 2 hours at the museum, then 30 mins walking around the Capitol. You need to be back at the airport 2 hours prior (you have your boarding pass, but need time to go through security again), so 3:40 p.m. From Dulles, it's a 45 min Uber/Lyft (I don't recommend any other transport, they will be too $$$ or too slow). From National, it's a 15 min taxi or Uber/Lyft. If you have extra time, go to National Air and Space Museum or the National Gallery of Art. Everything else will suck up time walking.
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Assuming 9:40am arrival, if you Uber or take the Washington Flyer (the official cab service) you will get a dedicated road for awhile and then HOV lane into DC - arriving at the mall about 11-11:30. You’ll get same dedicated lane going back so you can leave 2:40pm and be there 2 hrs ahead of flight. Gives you 3-4 hrs and if you have never been its worth it. Not sure if there is a left luggage or not. Bus/metro combo too slow.
Hi Sandy, Since Dulles isn’t convenient to DC and you’d be commuting during the busiest times of day I would take a pass unless perhaps you hired a Private Driver (not public transportation) and just settle for driving thru town. At least you could take a peak and get a feel if this is where you would like to revisit. It could take a month to truly enjoy Washington DC.
One of the other suggestions you received was to visit the air and space Museum which is phenomenal and much closer to your departing flight. That would be more relaxing. Have a great trip‼️