DCA Airport Guide:
Reagan National Airport, Arlington, VA 22202
A Trip Down Memory Lane
Although Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is located in Virginia, it is the main airport serving the D.C. metro area. DCA is known for offering a small and intimate traveling setting, in contrast to the area's other large airport: Dulles International. DCA also has a neat, retro vibe due to its dated airport styling.
Why You'll Be a Fan of DCA
As mentioned, the first thing you'll notice about DCA is its old school look. With its high arched ceilings and gold accent paint in the National Hall area, you'll feel like you went through a time machine to an airport of the past. Some may consider it overly outdated, but those who appreciate historical landmarks will enjoy DCA's unique character.
As previously mentioned, DCA is a fairly small airport when compared to the modern edifices like Miami International or Dallas/Fort Worth; however, it is fairly clean and has adequate signage to guide you along. There are also plenty of power outlets and free Wi-Fi, although the Internet signal is rather elusive in certain areas.
Finding Things To Do at DCA
In line with the airport's aged feel, there is a historic airport terminal located in between Terminals A and B. Here, you can see what it was like to walk through the airport in the 1940's. They are also some great places to take photos next to several antique decorations. You can take another walk through history in the lobby section of Terminal A, where the original structure from 1941 remains intact.
DCA has also added several quality shops for you to browse in your spare time. Stores such as Brooks Brothers, Spanx, LaCoste, and As Kindred Spirits can be found in the pre-security area. There is also an iRelax-n-Massage in the National Hall, which uses electrophysiology therapy massagers to decrease stress.
Picking the Right Place to Eat
Ben's Chili Bowl is a D.C. area favorite. Luckily, DCA has at least this to offer. Ben's provides a full menu of gourmet burgers and real meat hot dogs that are layered with their famous chili. Homemade sandwiches are also available (sans chili), including tuna and veggie subs. They also offer a Boca vegan burger, which can be topped with meat free chili. You'll have to leave the secured area to get to this spot, but it's definitely worth it.
Cibo Market is another well-known pit stop in East coast airports. DCA has an express location in Terminal C. These stores offer packaged and fresh foods such as sushi rolls, sandwiches, and pizza. It's a great place to stock up on snacks if you're getting on your flight soon, or want to avoid heading to another restaurant later on.
Although Five Guys is a chain restaurant, it's a pretty good one. Burgers are made to order and are quickly served fresh off the grill. Be aware that the portions are more than generous, and the small size is usually sufficient. Amazingly, the quality of the taste is the same as any other Five Guys location. The prices are also the same, so you won't have to worry about paying inflated airport prices. You might also want to add a side of cajun fries to your order to spice things up a bit.
Some Other Tips For DCA
Security guards are pretty strict on sleeping in the terminal at night. To avoid encountering problems, try to sleep in the chapel at the terminal entrance. Weary travelers can rest comfortably there on padded benches. For your convenience, the chapel is open 24 hours a day.
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