AWAY DAYS GUIDE #1
LOCATION: WASHINGTON DC, USA
MATCH: DC UNITED V. NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
DATE: APRIL 21, 2022
This is the first entry in my Away Days Guide where I will give a recap of a trip I have recently been on for a match. I don't expect these guides to outline a perfect or the most ideal trip, but it is what I experienced. I will give some tips and basic information on cities and what to do if you find yourself there for a game. In no way will this be a complete guide and there will be information missing, but if you don’t have a ton of time visiting a place, I think it covers some of the main things you might like to see. All of this information is from my own personal experiences of traveling to Washington DC in April of 2022.
The Plan: So we are going to DC?
So you might be reading this contemplating if you want to visit Washington DC for a match and I would definitely recommend that you do so. There will be multiple sections of the trip that I will breakdown below and generally this will apply to any trip. The sections include: Transportation, Lodging, Tickets & Game Day Experience and Activities. So basically how we are getting there, where we are staying, where we are getting the tickets, the game itself, and what to do in DC outside the game.
The transportation method you choose to get to DC will vary depending on what part of the country you are coming from, but I chose to rent a car and drive down. The entire round trip for me is about 1,000 miles (Boston to DC and back) and I didn’t want to put that amount of miles or journey on my own car, so I rented. It was about $150 total for a 3 day rental of a Ford Fusion (Friday to Sunday) and I felt that was a pretty fair price. The rental car was comfortable and drove great. I drove the majority of the 1,000 miles but I had my co-pilot take over for me at times. I would highly recommend not traveling extreme distances by yourself as its good to have another driver in case you get tired. They can also help with the GPS and directions when you inevitably take a wrong turn somewhere.
As I mentioned before, the way you get to DC might be different. If you are coming from somewhere like California, most likely you are going to be flying, but if you are someone in the north east like myself you have more of a choice. I could have flown, but the cost of the ticket was a little high when I was looking and I enjoy the drive so my choice was easy. It was about an 8 hour drive each way for me, but expect to hit traffic some point along the way and have the journey take closer to 9 or 10 hours when heading from the Boston area. There are a good amount of tolls (roughly $40 round trip for me) and I would advise preloading an EZ Pass so you don’t have to worry about them and you can breeze on through.
When I am looking to choose what hotel I want to stay at, I’m mainly concerned about two things. The price and how far its located from the things I want to see and do. Hotels in DC proper were pretty expensive (not really unexpected) so I started looking just outside DC. I ended up staying in Arlington, VA which was only a few miles and less than a 15 minute drive to all the typical things people like to see in DC. It was roughly $120 a night for a two person room and although it wasn’t in DC itself, it didn’t really matter. I was only in the hotel at night to sleep and the rest of the day was spent out and about. Generally speaking, if you are looking to visit a major city and don’t want to pay a “major” price, look to the immediate suburbs. You might have to drive a little bit to what you want to do, but as long as its not too far, its worth the money saved.
Tickets & Game Day Experience
The grand event of the trip (and almost all of my trips) is the match itself. I always get my tickets ahead of time and I shop around for the best price. Sometimes I go for the less expensive seats, but occasionally I treat myself too. For most MLS stadiums, you can get pretty great seats for $75 or less and good seats for like $30-40. I have used SeatGeek, Stubhub, Ticketmaster, and purchased tickets directly through the teams in the past. I have not had a bad experience with any of those methods, just be aware there may be fees on top of the ticket price. I don’t agree with how excessive the fees can be at times, but that is part of the ticket buying experience now. For this particular game at Audi Field, I had my seats in Section 128 which is on one of the sidelines. I paid roughly $50 for the ticket and the views were great. These wouldn’t be considered “fancy” seats but I thought they were a really good value for money.
Audi Field is one of the newer MLS stadiums having opened in July of 2018. I have been there twice so far and I think its a great venue to watch a match at. When you enter the stadium, there is a decently sized club shop. I didn’t buy anything, but I normally do buy a scarf when I go to a stadium for the first time as a little memento. Other than the club shop, there are like a hundred different places to get food and drinks. Around almost the entire perimeter of the stadium, there are different food vendors serving a wide variety of food. I also noticed some food trucks that were inside Audi Field as well and I was impressed with the amount of offerings there. I’m used to Gillette Stadium where I never get food because I find it lacking and way overpriced but I think DC United is doing it right in the food and drinks department. Its still relatively expensive food, but at least its good expensive food.
I'm not an expert on going to Audi Field so this isn't all the information you might want, but DC United does provide more information on their website. Check out their Matchday Guide HERE.
My Revs got off to a hot start thanks to an amazing strike from Brandon Bye, but it ultimately wasn’t to be, with the Revs losing 3-2. Luckily the Revs haven’t been too terrible on the road over the last few years, but before that it was rough. I love traveling to games whether it ends in a win or loss, but the ride home back home does seem better coming off a win.
When I’m going on an “away day” I’m going for the game, but its good to see the surrounding area too. For this trip, I was taking someone who hadn’t been to DC before, so we saw things like the White House, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, places like that. I was only there for the weekend so although we had a decent amount of time, we still had to be smart with it. Many of the major sites you would want to see are located in or near the National Mall. I have put a map below that shows how close these sites are. If you have 3-5 hours (depending on how quickly you walk and how long you spend at each place) you should be able to visit the sites listed above as well as others along the way. There are also a few different museums in this exact area and there is no charge to get in. There are multiple Smithsonian National Museums that are worth checking out, even if you aren’t necessarily into going to museums. We ended up visiting all the major sites over two days and although it was a lot of walking, it was nice to see the city. I have outlined the general area below that I would advise going too if you want to see the typical things DC is known for.
If you were walking from the Lincoln Memorial (as far left as you can see on the map to the US Capitol (as shown to the far right) its about 2.5 miles. You aren't walking through a crowded city or anything, but through the National Mall and Memorial Parks. You could easily kill 5 hours (or maybe more) by going to the sites within the red box above. From walking to each memorial or monument, checking them out, going to a couple of the museums (which are free) you could fill up the day before heading over to Audi Field.
These are a couple of random notes that I didn’t have a spot for in the main guide, but that I still wanted to share.
If you are driving into DC, there are a bunch of different parking options. When I went, $10 parking for the entire day was pretty standard, but I did see other spots that were much more. I would recommend using one of the popular parking spot apps to find a good location nearby to what you want to see. Its not fun driving around in a city you aren’t used to looking for affordable parking and the parking apps make it extremely easy.
This part may eventually change, but when you are walking around DC (as of 2022) you cannot help but notice the amount of people riding on the rentable scooters. I have seen them in Boston and other cities, but there were a crazy amount in DC when I went. On the first day I didn’t consider using one, but the next day and about 15 miles having been walked since then, I did contemplate it. Maybe next time though.