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.
The hotel shuttle is available to take any guest (of the hotel or the conference) to any location within a 5-mile radius. For example, they will 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.
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 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 its quirks. First of all, you will need to purchase a SmarTrip Card. This card is an RFID-based and 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 first 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 a flat charge. The cost changes based on 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 cost ranges from $1.75-$3.60 during non-peak hours and raises 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 in the direction of your travel. 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 which station is at the end of the line. 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 which line that train is serving. Pay attention; some stations serve multiple lines, and you need to make sure you get on the right color train.
Dulles Airport is only around 15 minutes away from the php[world] venue. Currently, you have two options to reach the hotel. The simplest option is to take a taxi or Uber. However until the Metro Silver Line is extended out to Dulles (planned for 2020), the airport is providing the Silver Line Express. This shuttle costs $5 per person and takes you from Dulles to the terminus of the Silver Line on the Metro (the Wiehle-Reston East station). The Spring Hill metro stop (described below) which is across from the venue is just one stop down on the Silver Line from there. This method will cost you less than taking an Uber but will take a while because of the transfers & wait for shuttle/train.
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.
Of course, there are also many local restaurants, stores, and even a WalMart all in the area of the venue itself. We’ve put together an easily available Google Map where we’ve highlighted some the local attractions that conference attendees would most likely be interested in: