Monday morning is when our trip to DC began. We took Amtrak from Roanoke, VA to DC. I paid $7 per person each way from Roanoke to Union Station in DC. We woke up at 4:30am so we could stop at Bojangles and get breakfast to take on the train with us. We were set to leave Roanoke at 6:20am on the 176 NE Regional. The Amtrak station in Roanoke is a single platform with no attendant and no facilities. It also has multiple tracks that Norfolk Southern also uses. About 6:15am, a Norfolk Southern train came through, which delayed our Amtrak train from arriving. We were delayed 20 minutes.
Finally Amtrak arrived and we were able to get on our car and start our journey north. We were set to arrive at Union Station at 11:25am. The trip from Roanoke to DC was very uneventful. We arrived at Union Station around noon thanks to the delay in getting started. The great thing about taking the train from Roanoke, is that the NE Regional originates in Roanoke so there’s nobody on board when the train gets there. It’s usually pretty empty until you get to Charlottesville, where the UVA kids get on. From Charlottesville, there are several stops along the way that has a good amount of passengers board.
Once we arrived at Union Station, we went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, then we went up to the Metro platform to head to our hotel. We purchased our SmartTrip Metro cards at Union Station.
Normally I just use my phone and I would have used the WMATA app for this trip as well, but my wife wanted an actual SmartTrip card for our son in case his battery died on his phone. So we paid for cards this trip. We purchased the unlimited 7 day pass, which is $58 per person plus a $2 fee for the card for a grand total of $60 for unlimited rides for 7 days. This is the same cost on the app as well. Be sure to download the SmartTrip app on your phone or you can get a card like we did. The cost is thre same.
Once we got out cards, we headed to our hotel.
I am a Hilton Honors Diamond member, so I stick with Hilton properties when we travel. After looking at many hotels in and around DC and comparing, I ended up booking us at the Embassy Suites DC / Chevy Chase Pavilion. This hotel is in DC but right at the border. The DC/MD border is in front of the hotel.
This is a very nice hotel. They have made to order breakfast which is nice, unlike conventional hotel breakfast. My wife loved their omlettes. Across the street from the hotel is several restaurants including Clyde’s, Potomac Pizza and several other eateries. There’s also a shopping plaza across the street as well as a bus station. The hotel itself is in an old abandoned mall. There is a Cheesecake Factory at the hotel, on the 3rd floor which is nice! There’s also a Metro stop at the hotel, you simply take the escalator down from the hotel lobby into the Metro station. For reference, it’s the Friendship Heights Metro Station on the red line.
Once we got to the hotel, we went straight to our room to drop our bags off. Then we had a day to begin!