The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, or Metro as locals so fondly call it, was created by an interstate compact in 1967 to develop a balanced regional transportation system in the national capital region. Since beginning operation in 1976, the Metro has grown to six train lines with 117 miles of track that connect Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia and now claims a ridership of an estimated 2.3 million trips a year.
Montgomery County is the home of the Metro’s Red Line—the longest, busiest, and oldest line in the entire system! Running from Shady Grove to Glenmont, the Red Line consists of 27 total stations, 13 of which are located throughout the county, and provides visitors and residents alike with easy access to the nation’s capital and to many of the best attractions the county has to offer.
First Timers Guide
The Metro can be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive at a station, but we have a few tips that will have you riding the train like a local in no time.
Hours: The Metro is open Monday through Thursday from 5 am-11:30 pm, Friday from 5 am-1 am, Saturday 7 am-1 am, and Sunday from 8 am-11 pm.
Insider Tip: The Metro is the busiest and has the most crowded train cars on the weekdays. If you are riding the Metro on a weekday, it’s best to avoid peak times during 5 am-9:30 am and 3 pm-7 pm when fares are higher. There are no peak times on the weekend, but trains run less frequently, with arrivals varying between 9 to 20 minutes.
Getting Around: To get around the Metro, you need to purchase a SmarTrip card from one of the SmarTrip dispensers located inside all stations. These cards are rechargeable and are used to enter and exit the stations by simply tapping your card at the station fare gates.
Bus: There are 25 different bus routes throughout Montgomery County, Maryland that can be used to get around during your stay. Bus fare is $2.00 using a SmarTrip card or cash and $1.00 for seniors or people with disabilities it is $1.00. Children four years or younger ride free.
Parking: Parking is available at designated Metro lots and structures for a fee that varies from station to station. Signs listing the rates are posted at the entrance of each parking lot, Your SmarTrip card can also be used to pay the parking fee. On weekends and federal holidays, all parking at Metro-operated lots and structures are free.
Insider Tip: If you’re staying in the Gaithersburg or Germantown areas, the closest Metro station is Shady Grove. This station has ample parking and several hotels in the surrounding area offers shuttle service to this station.
Bikes: Bikes are welcome on Metro at all hours of the day but are not allowed on crowded railcars (use good judgment to decide if you can comfortably board and exit). When boarding a train with a bike, be sure to not block aisles or doors and only use the elevator to exit, rather than the escalator.
Insider Tip: If you are interested in exploring the area via bike but don’t want to bring one on the train, Capital Bikeshare stations are located at nearly all the 13 stations in Montgomery County.
Rules of the Rail: There are a few unwritten rules on the Metro that are important to learn before you start riding the train. When the train arrives, we recommend waiting for all passengers to exit before boarding. If you enter a car and all seats are taken, move to the middle of the car to give people extra room.
Insider Tip: Rules of the rail apply to the escalator as well! When riding the escalator make sure to walk on the left and stand on the right.
Explore MoCo on the Red Line
Along the Red Line in Montgomery County, Maryland, there are endless places to discover. Take advantage of our wide selection of itineraries to plan your next trip or hop on the Red Line to explore yourself and see what each of the 13 stations in the area have to offer.
Shop ‘Til You Drop: Ready to have the ultimate shopping spree? The Red Line stations in Montgomery County have some of the best retail shops around including everything from local boutiques to world-renowned stores. At the Friendship Heights station, you’ll find luxury shops like Saks 5th Avenue, Tiffany and Co, and Bloomingdales located in Chevy Chase. Hop back on the train and take one more stop to the Bethesda station to explore the shops of Bethesda Row and sit down for a farm-to-table meal at Terrain Cafe. Purchase one-of-a-kind pieces at fashion boutiques or visit big-name shops, like the area’s largest Anthropologie & Co. If you’re looking for an indoor mall experience, take the train for three more stops until you reach the White Flint Station, hop in an uber for a short 5- to 10-minute drive, and arrive at Westfield Montgomery Mall.
Family Fun: No matter the season, it’s always nice to get outside to enjoy some fresh air with your family. Start by taking the Red Line down to the Silver Spring station where you can stroll by the shops, dine at delicious restaurants, and partake in fun activities in Downtown Silver Spring. During the summer, kids will love to splash around at the Interactive Fountain, and during the winter, anyone can lace up skates and glide around the outdoor rink. Afterward, ride to the Shady Grove station and spend the rest of the day at rio lakefront, which is just a quick 10-minute Uber away. Take a swan paddle boat out on the lake, ride the carousel in the park, play interactive arcade games at Dave and Busters, see a movie, grab a bite to eat, and more all at rio lakefront.
Adventure Seekers: Looking for the thrill of adventure in Montgomery County, Maryland? Start your trip off by riding the Red Line to Rockville station. From there it is a quick five-minute Uber drive or 16-minute walk to Earth Treks, an indoor rock-climbing experience geared to all ages and skill levels. When you’re ready to move on to the next adventure, get back on the Metro and head south to the Glenmont station to test your skills at The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring. Climb, zip line, and hike your way through over 190 unique outdoor challenges that are sure to excite any adventure seeker. Finish off the day by taking the Red Line to Grosvenor-Strathmore station and take a 12-minute Uber ride to Dream Aero. With this flight simulator, visitors can experience what flying a plane is really like including take-off, landing, and following a light path.
Arts & Culture: The Red Line is your one-stop-shop for arts and culture with many of the stations having performance venues and galleries just steps away. At the Rockville Station, take a community art class in mediums like painting, drawing, ceramics, jewelry making, and photography at VisArts. Take the train up to Strathmore—The Music Center & Mansion at the Grosvenor-Strathmore station to see their outdoor Sculpture Garden, then head inside to enjoy the beautiful architecture and end the night with a live music performance.
Trip Planning Resources
To plan your metro trip, locate your nearest Metro station, and more, download the DC Metro and Bus app from the App Store or Google Play. You can also download a printable Metrorail Pocket Guide in your language of choice to help you navigate your way through the Metro.