For those people visiting from outside the local area, we realize that D.C. is a great tourist destination and you may want to visit some sights. You may also need a little help getting to the venue if you are flying in. We’ve put this page together to fill you in on as much helpful, local information as possible.
Local Hotel Shuttle
The hotel shuttle is available to take any guest (of the hotel and/or the conference) to any location within a 5 mile radius. This means you can have them take you to the Tyson’s Corner Mall, a large shopping destination, or to the closest Washington Metro stop (which is easily walkable, but if it’s raining the shuttle is an option). The shuttle does not connect to either of the local airports, IAD/Dulles nor DCA/Reagan.
Using the Washington Metro
Most sightseeing that you will want to do will involve using the Metro system. If you are unfamiliar, it is a rapid transit system that is best described as a cross between a light rail train, and a subway train. Sometimes it is above ground, other times it is below. It is the 2nd busiest rapid transit system in America (only behind NYC); however, it’s also one of the simplest ones. There are only six metro lines, and 91 stations, which don’t overlap too much. Signage is good throughout. The Sheraton Premiere is located right next to the Spring Hill Metro Station on the Silver Line.
Using the Metro is similar to many systems, but as usual it has it’s own quirks. First of all, you will need to purchase a SmarTrip Card. This is a RFID based rider card that holds value for you. You tap this card against the similar design round circles on the gates to enter and exit the Metro Stations. There are kiosks at all the stations that will allow you to purchase a new card, and additional kiosks that will allow you to add value to your card. To get your initial SmarTrip Card, it will cost you $10 (payable by Cash, Credit, or Debit), and there is a $2 fee – So the card will have an $8 value.
Trips on the Metro, unlike those on lines in other cities are not flat fee. The cost changes based upon time of day, and how far you went on the train. If you are interested, at each station there will be a map with a grid of fees showing you what it will cost to get from your current station, to any other one. The fees range from $1.75-$3.60 during non-peak hours and raise up to $2.15-$5.90 during peak hours. Don’t worry if you accidentally didn’t have enough money on your card when you go to exit the Metro, there is always a machine inside of the gates that you can use to add funds.
One of the most important tricks to navigating the Metro system, is to not only know which line you need to be on, but which direction you need to travel. The only way to be sure of this (since cardinal directions wouldn’t apply to the curvy Metro lines), is to know the endpoint of the line that you are heading towards. For example, the Silver Line’s endpoints are Weihle-Reston East, and Largo Town Center. Each sign for platforms, as well as each train, will be marked with what line they are for, as well as what endpoint they are heading towards. On the platforms there will be tall brown pillars that show the train line for which that platform serves with all stops in the direction you are heading. Each Train has LCD signs on the sides and ends of them, which will list their endpoint, and have a colored bar to show what color line it is for. Pay attention, some stations serve multiple lines and you need to make sure you get on the right color train.
Getting from Dulles Airport (IAD) to php[world]
While Dulles Airport is only around 15 minutes away from the php[world] venue, currently the only reasonable way to reach the hotel is to take a cab. Eventually (within the next 5 years) the Metro system will expand to include service to IAD.
Getting from Reagan International Airport (DCA) to php[world]
- When you arrive at DCA follow the signs towards the baggage claim area.
- In the baggage claim area, you will find signs pointing upstairs for the “Bridge to Metro”
- Follow the signs at this point to arrive at the National Airport Metro Station.
- Before going through the turnstiles you will need to purchase a SmarTrip card at the kiosks available.
- You will need to ride a BLUE train toward LARGO TOWN CENTER.
- EXIT the train at the ROSSLYN stop to transfer trains.
- Proceed downstairs to the SILVER train platform. You will need to take a SILVER train toward WEIHLE-RESTON EAST. Pay attention to the color displayed on the train as BOTH SILVER and ORANGE trains use the same tracks.
- EXIT the train at the SPRING HILL stop. When you exit the train, look around to your right. You will see the Sheraton Premier Hotel easily (it’s the only huge glass tower in the area)
- Walk to your LEFT to exit the Metro Station, and take the over-road crosswalk on the right-hand side.
- You will be able to see the hotel the entire time as you are walking towards it.
Getting to the Spring Hill Metro Station from php[world]
- Exit the hotel lobby. You should easily see in front of you, parallel to the main road, the raised Metro train tracks.
- Begin walking to the right from the hotel to move towards the Metro Station.
- You will cross the road out of the parking lot, and walk down CORNERSIDE BLVD passing in front of shopping center with Walmart, Smashburger, and more stores.
- Turn left on WESTWOOD CENTER Dr. At this point you should see the Metro Station, and it’s overpasses for pedestrians.
- Walk down to the corner and cross Westwood Center Dr.
- Continue up the sidewalk past the car dealerships to the overpass where you will be able to access the Metro Station.
- If you still need a SmarTrip Card, you will be able to purchase them at the kiosks to your right as you near the platform.
Downtown Washington D.C. Destinations
Any downtown destination you may want to visit will involve using the Metro. We have listed some common ones below. To return, always make your way back to the SILVER line of the Metro, towards the WEIHLE-RESTON endpoint, and exit at SPRING HILL.
- Returning to Reagan International Airport (DCA)
- Take the SILVER line heading towards LARGO TOWN CENTER. Exit at ROSSLYN and transfer to the BLUE line heading towards FRANCONIA-SPRINGFIELD. Exit at RONALD REAGAN WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT.
- Smithsonian Institution Museums & National Mall
- All of the Smithsonian Museums are free to access (though have very restrictive hours, please check their hours before attempting to visit). Take the SILVER line heading towards LARGO TOWN CENTER. The Silver Line will run directly to your destination with no transfers. You can get off the SMITHSONIAN exit to be right in the middle of the National Mall, or continue on to the CAPITAL SOUTH exit to be closer to the Capital Building and the Library of Congress.
- Arlington Cemetery
- Arlington is actually half-way between DCA and the venue, so the directions are almost the same. Take the SILVER line heading towards LARGO TOWN CENTER. Exit at ROSSLYN and transfer to the BLUE line heading towards FRANCONIA-SPRINGFIELD. Exit at ARLINGTON CEMETERY.
- National Zoo
- The National Zoo is a great destination, free to visit, and open 364 days a year. It is a bit of a hike to get there by Metro though. To reach the Zoo: Take the SILVER line heading towards LARGO TOWN CENTER. Exit at METRO CENTER and transfer to the RED line heading towards SHADY GROVE. Exit at the WOODLY PARK/ZOO Metro Station and follow the signs to the Zoo.
- Shopping at the Tyson’s Corner Mall
- According to the hotel, a very common destination of hotel guests (especially international ones). The Hotel does provide a shuttle that can take you directly here. You can also use the Metro to access the mall. Take the SILVER line heading towards LARGO TOWN CENTER, and simply exit two stops later at TYSON’S CORNER. There is an overpass crosswalk that will allow you to directly access the mall.
Of course there are also lots of local restaurants, stores, and even a WalMart all in the area of the venue itself. We’ve put together an easily accessible Google Map where we’ve highlighted a number of the local attractions that conference attendees would most likely be interested in: