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    Airports

    Washington Dulles International Airport
    Why Dulles carries the word "Washington" in its name has always escaped me. Why isn't it called "Middle-of-Nowhere-in-Virginia Dulles International Airport?" In any case, Dulles is the main choice Washingtonians have for flights of more than 1,200 miles. (That's National's range limit.) You can get there pretty easily with a Metro-to-bus connection, but be sure to leave extra time for traffic and Murphy's Law.

    The cheap way: Take the Orange Line to the West Falls Church Metro Station. Then take the Dulles Express bus to Dulles. It leaves between 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.
    Elapsed time from Metro Center: About an hour.
    Price: Cost of the Metro ride plus $8 each way for the bus. ($14 round trip).
    Restrictions: Last bus leaves Falls Church and Dulles at 10:30 p.m., so beware of late-night flights.

    The convenient way: Take a Washington Flyer directly from the express bus terminal at 1517 K St. NW to the airport. The bus leaves from 6:15 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. daily.
    Elapsed time from 1517 K St.: 1 hour.
    Price from Metro Center: $16 each way. ($26 round trip).
    Information: Call Metro at 202-637-7000 and Washington Flyer at 703-685-1400.



    Baltimore-Washington International Airport
    Baltimore-Washington International Airport is a good alternative for many smart travelers. Located south of Baltimore, it is on the main Amtrak and MARC lines.

    The cheap way: If you can, take MARC's Penn Line to and from Union Station. It connects to a BWI bus that shuttles you to your terminal.
    Elapsed time from Union Station: 40 minutes by train; leave another half-hour to wait for the shuttle to the terminal.
    Price from Union Station: $5 each way ($8.75 round trip).
    Restrictions: Monday to Friday only; last MARC train leaves BWI at 8:47 p.m. The last MARC train leaves Union Station at 10 p.m.

    The easy way: Take Amtrak from Union Station to the BWI rail station and walk down the platform to the shuttle bus.
    Elapsed time from Union Station: 30 minutes by train; allow another half-hour to wait for the shuttle bus to the terminal.
    Price from Union Station: $14 one way; $26 round trip.
    Restrictions: seven days a week; last Amtrak train leaves BWI at 1:09 a.m.; last Amtrak train leaves Union Station at 10:30 p.m.
    Information: Call Amtrak at 1-800-USA-RAIL.

    The truly lazy way: The BWI SuperShuttle will pick you up at your doorstep and drop you at the terminal. Call 1-800-BLUE-VAN at least 24 hours in advance. The trip will cost $28 to $30 each way.



    Universities

    University of Maryland
    The University of Maryland is a major cultural center, with cheap movies, music and other attractions. CollegePost suggests the best things to do on this campus. It used to be a pain to get to UM without a car, but the Green Line extension makes the trip a breeze.

    Getting there: Take the Green Line to College Park. Grab the F6 Metrobus (direction: Hyattsville), the 83 Metrobus (direction: R.I. Avenue) or the 86 Metrobus (direction: Calverton) to campus.
    Elapsed time to Metro Center: About 45 minutes.
    Information: Call Metro at 202-637-7000.


    George Mason University
    In Fairfax City, Virginia's second-largest public university is home to the Patriot Center.

    Getting there: Take the Orange Line to the Vienna Metro Station. Then get on the Fairfax City CUE bus Gold 1 or Green 1 routes to campus.
    Elapsed time to Metro Center: About an hour total.
    Price: Metro fare plus 50 cents for the bus.
    Restrictions: The last bus that meets the Metro leaves GMU at 11:35 p.m. weekdays, 8:16 p.m. Saturdays and 5:56 p.m. on Sundays.
    Information: Call Metro at 202-637-7000 or the CUE bus at 703-385-7859.


    American University
    Yeah, American University is in the city. And there's a lot happening on this campus, as CollegePost proves. But it's in something of a Metro-free zone. If you want to do something at AU, you have to take a bus or hoof it from Tenleytown.

    Getting there: On weekdays, take the Red Line to the Tenleytown-AU Metro Station. Then take the M4 Metrobus (direction: Sibley Hospital) to campus. On weekends, take the Red Line to either Friendship Heights or Dupont Circle and take the N6 Metrobus on Massachusetts Avenue to campus.
    Restrictions: The M4 only runs until about 9 p.m.; the N6 runs until 12:30 a.m.
    Information: Call Metro at 202-637-7000.



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