Heading to Washington DC with little ones in tow? You may be asking the same question I did before I went. Should I take a stroller with me? Today I will share tips to help you decide if you should have a stroller in Washington D.C.
It is likely you will be flying to Washington D.C. I always find it nice to have my stroller with me at the airport. Funny enough I often use it to carry my luggage rather than my kids.
You definitely want to consider the size of your stroller when choosing whether to have a stroller in Washington D.C. I absolutely love my BOB single stroller and Peg Perego stroller. My Peg is awesome when traveling with one child because it is lightweight and easy to fold. However, on our trip to D.C. I brought the BOB because I can fit two kids in it when I utilize the pocket footrest. We also have a Double BOB Stroller that we love, but we knew it would be too big for the trip.
I had no problems with the stroller in the Tampa airport. At security they hand-screened it and I was allowed to gate check it. Washington Dulles airport wasn’t as stroller friendly. They made me take the wheels off to put it through the scanner at security. I was allowed to bring it down on the jetway but they required me to send it with the checked baggage because of the weight.
You will need to check with the particular airline you are flying with to see what their specific requirements are concerning strollers. However, here are a few of the main airlines that fly into DC and their current requirements (November 2019) according to their websites:
Delta’s Stroller Policy
Children’s strollers and seat restraints are not counted as part of the standard baggage and therefore can easily be checked for free. For your convenience these items may be checked at the curbside, the ticket counter, or at the gate.
Jet Blue’s Stroller Policy
Strollers and car seats do not count toward your carry-on or checked bag allowance. You may check them through when you arrive at the airport or gate-check them at the jetbridge.
Southwest’s Stroller Policy
Customers traveling with children will be allowed to check one stroller and one Child Restraint System (CRS) or car seat per child without charge. This is in addition to the regular free baggage allowance. The stroller and CRS or car seat allowance applies to any type of stroller (umbrella, full size, jogging stroller, etc.) and CRS or car seat. The Customer may check the stroller and CRS or car seat at the curb, ticket counter, or gate. Southwest Airlines will not assume liability for damage to strollers, CRS’s or car seats.
United’s Stroller Policy
We’ll accept one stroller or folding wagon free of charge for each child in addition to a car seat. This includes children under the age of two traveling on an adult’s lap and infants traveling internationally on 10 percent of an adult fare, charged at the time of infant ticketing. You’ll have to check most strollers or folding wagons at the gate before you depart. You can still use them around the airport, though. Large, non-collapsible strollers or non-folding wagons can’t be checked at the gate, so please see a United representative at the airport check-in counter to check these items.
**Remember the policies listed are current on the date this article was written. Be sure to double-check with your particular carrier to be sure no changes have been made.
Strollers in Washinton D.C.-Public Transportation
Washington D.C. is a great destination for using public transit. From buses, rental bikes and scooters, and the metro you definitely can get around the town for an affordable price. If you are planning to use public transit, you might be wondering if you can have your stroller.
Metrorail Stroller Policy
One excellent way to see the sights of D.C. is with the Metrorail. In our experience strollers were welcome on the Metrorail in Washington DC. With 6 lines and 91 stations the Metrorail travels to most of the city. We had no trouble taking our single stroller on the metro. There are spaces on the train where you can park the stroller and sit adjacent to it. We did ride the metro during off-peak times so it might be a little tricker if you are trying to ride during high traffic times.
When I looked into the specific policy of the Metrorail the only thing I could find was: “If you have a stroller, use the elevator. There’s no safe way to carry an infant in a stroller on an escalator. If the elevator is out of service, carry your infant in your arms, fold the stroller, and take the escalator. ” This statement does not really address whether strollers can be brought on the Metro or not. However, I think you will be able to ride any time of the day with your stroller-and you likely won’t even have to fold it up.
Strollers On Buses
The Metrobus has 325 routes and cost $2 (for regular routes) to ride whether you are paying by cash or SmarTrip (with this card you can get a discount when riding the Metrorail). Children four years and younger, ride free with each adult paying full fare. (up to 2 children). Children five and older pay adult fares. According to their website the stroller policy is, “If you have a stroller, take your child out of the stroller, fold the stroller, and if possible, stow the stroller out of the way.”
Another option for taking a bus is the DC Circulator. Even better than the Metro, The DC Circulator only charges a $1 base fare and children 5 and under are free (with a paying adult rider). There are many popular routes on this bus including National Mall Route, Georgetown, and Union Station. According to their website their stroller policy is “Children in strollers are welcome on the DC Circulator. Due to space, we must limit open strollers to two at a time on each bus. The maximum size for a stroller is 48” long by 24” wide. Strollers larger than 48×24, such as most jogging strollers, will not be allowed on buses. The DC Circulator does not allow play buggies such as plastic pull-along cars or wagon carts at any time.
If you are considering riding the buses around town you again want to consider the size of your stroller. We never took the bus because we felt like our BOB would be a little too much to bring on. I’m sure we could have made it work but we didn’t want to inconvenience other people. I would suggest you look into all the options ahead of time along with your itinerary to see what will be the best transportation option. At that time you can then decide which stroller you will bring.
Strollers In Washington D.C. Mall & Museums
If you are like our family it is likely that the National Mall & Smithsonian Museums are on the top of the list of places to visit on your trip. These destinations require a lot of walking which was one of the top reasons we wanted to bring a stroller. We knew that walking to all the destinations would do our kids in. We were pleased to find that both the mall area and the museums were very stroller friendly.
Stroller at The National Mall
The National Mall is a gorgeous open landscape that not only requires a lot of walking but also encourages a lot of freedom for exercise for children. During our visit our children would hop in and out of the stroller as we would walk along. We were able to get a close-up view of the Vietnam memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Monument. The Vietnam memorial has a paved walkway right next to it so there is no problem seeing it with your stroller. We went up to the Washington Monument but we did not go in so I can’t say to whether you could bring a stroller in or not. The Lincoln Monument has a ramp that you can take which will give you access to an elevator to bring you up to the top. We did not visit the Capitol building but according to their website it appears strollers are allowed except in the House and Senate Galleries. Strollers are prohibited inside the White House.
Stroller At The Smithsonian Museums
Since we were only there one day we were unable to visit all the Smithsonian Museums. We visited the Air & Space Museum and the Natural History Museum. A word of caution: while we were able to bring the stroller into both of these destinations, we found it difficult to maneuver around with our stroller. In the Air and Space Museum there was an exhibit where you could walk through a rocket that our stroller could not go. I stayed with the stroller while my husband took my kids through the exhibit. Many of the exhibits have fairly tight walkways. We were able to maneuver but mind you we were visiting the first week in October. I can’t imagine trying to get through the crowds in the summer months with a stroller.
According to the Smithsonian website their policy on strollers is, “Strollers are permitted in all museums*; a limited number of strollers are available for rent at the Zoo. *No strollers are permitted in Ginny Ruffner: Reforestation of the Imagination. Stroller parking is available at the 17th Street accessible entrance.
Of course part of your trip to Washington DC will be eating out. We were allowed to bring our stroller into all the places we ate or considered eating. With that being said remember that most places are compact eateries. So again a smaller stroller or folding up your stroller might be a better option.
Another option I didn’t think of before I went was bringing a lock in case we wanted to leave the stroller outside places. Washington D.C. is very biker friendly so many places have a bike rack you can attach your stroller to.
Another option is to bring a fold-up wagon. This might be a good option since you can fit multiple children and it can fold up to be carried inside or locked up outside.
My last and final recommendation is for a stroller accessory that I always use is the Clip & Go. (see picture above). This little gadget is so helpful when you have lots of things to carry in your stroller. In the airport we attached the kids’ backpacks to it. **To save you from embarrassment just remember that a lot of weight potentially is in the back of your stroller when your child stands up.
The Ultimate Question: Would I Bring The Stroller Again?
You’re probably wondering, “if you had to do it over again would you use a stroller in Washington D.C.?” My answer would definitely be yes. I don’t know how my three year old could have kept up without carrying him everywhere. The only thing I might reconsider is bringing a smaller stroller or bringing our Kelty backpack carrier for him. Like I said at the beginning I love that my BOB can hold two kids, but it was very cumbersome for the reasons mentioned above.
Hopefully this article will help you determine whether you want to bring a stroller in Washington D.C. and/or which stroller you want to bring. In addition to the mom clip we have some great suggestions of must-have gear for family travelers in this article. Stay Peachy!