Shaw is the hippest entertaining and dining district in the Washington, D.C. area. This northwestern community of the country capital is home to parks and large events, fine dining establishments recognized around the world, and craft cocktail destinations that bring in crowds from all across D.C. Living in this bustling neighborhood is a lot of fun, as you're near all the recreation, gourmet restaurants, shopping, and boutiques you could ask for, as well as easy access to all of the attractions found in greater Washington, D.C. But with all of these in-demand destinations in an uptown area comes lots of Shaw traffic and logistical challenges. After all, you may only be three miles from the Lincoln Memorial, but expect that drive to take over half an hour on an average morning — and hours on a major holiday or a big political event.
This guide gives the insider knowledge and local commuting insights you need to enjoy everything about daily living in Shaw, with short commute times and a mastery of all the local transportation options.
Know these typical traffic patterns in Shaw
- Avoid Highway 50 east of 395 during peak morning and evening — always expect delays, especially around North Capital Street.
- Southbound 9th Street is always backed up during the peak hours.
- K Street typically offers fast traffic and is an excellent east-west street for getting to local destinations.
- Choose 66 or Arlington Memorial Bridge over 395 to get where you're going in the afternoons.
- Mornings are generally clearer than early evenings, so late risers can enjoy a more forgiving commute than those with a tight evening itinerary.
Be aware of these hotspots
Expect the biggest delays along U Street and around the Howard Theater during the evening.
Avoid these seasonal and event-based Shaw traffic peaks
The best way forward is to know your alternate routes. When you know certain roads are going to be closed, drive around them. If you think there will be delays along your go-to train route, you may have to wake up early. Over time, understanding where to go and what days you should drive or take a train ride will become instinctual.
Shaw offers these public transportation options
Overview of Shaw's public transit options
How to make public transit part of your Shaw commute
- Check the Shaw-Howard U's page for delays and schedules.
- Sign up for station alerts to always know when your route will be affected.
- Reup to Metrorail fare online so you don't have to miss a bus or carry cash.
Tips for traveling around Shaw with ease
Optimal practices for commuting and travel
Start building a list of your favorite parking lots. Know where the free lots are, the most convenient parking spots near your repeat destinations, and what parking lots get far too crowded to visit twice.
Try out the metro. If you're moving in from a car country, taking the train can feel like a hassle. But it actually offers faster arrival times than going by car, and you can spend that time catching up on reading, work, or your favorite apps.
Be ready for your go-to routes and parking spots to change in winter. Snow plows may need to pile up snow where you park your car or ride your bike. That's why it's so important to prepare alternative plans!
Navigate the Shaw real estate market like a pro with Frank Snodgrass
*Header photo courtesy of Shutterstock