NASA Goddard Association of Postdoctoral and Early Career Scientists

The information on this website was compiled by volunteers and does not represent the views of NASA or the Goddard administration. You should always check with your lab and/or adviser as some information may be out of date or not applicable to your situation.

Living in the Washington D.C. Area

Are you a new Postdoc, Contractor, or Civil Servant at NASA Goddard? Check out the information below designed to help new members of our community acclimate to the DC region.

First and foremost: Make sure you are subscribed to the NGAPS+ mailing list so you can learn about the latest news and events. Sign-up using that link (internal link) or by emailing one of our officers.

The NGAPS+ co-officers have compiled a list of resources from members into a guide that you can find here:

NGAPS+ Housing Guide

Click on any of the topics below to learn more about them.

We have put together a map of local points of interest, recommended restaurants, and various types of recreation. Always call ahead to ensure that a particular location is still in business before visiting.

Follow this link to a larger view of the map!

Foreign National Info

Moving to live and work in a new country is incredibly exciting, but it can also be a confusing time when it comes to understanding the different steps needed to move, settle and function in the new place. It is for this reason that NGAPS+ has created an Informal Guide for Foreign Nationals (FNs) - defined here as non-US citizens - which consists of tips and knowledge gained from other foreign nationals who have already been through the process. Primarily intended for FNs who are either yet to arrive in the US, or those who may have recently arrived, we hope that this info relevant to all foreign nationals!

Foreign National Guide

Foreign National Buddy System

While new FNs will hopefully receive lots of useful advice from your advisor/employer and the informal guide mentioned above, we also know from experience that there are often things that your employer can't help you with, they may forget to tell you, or you may have questions that you simply do not feel comfortable asking them. Our experience is that we typically gained most of our knowledge informally through our peers and "word of mouth". It is for this reason that we decided to trial a new "buddy" system! We intend to match incoming or "new to the area" FNs with a more established FN "buddy" who can act as an informal guide to help you with any questions you have about life in the US, life in the DC area, where to find stuff at GSFC, etc. Your "buddy" will have already been through the same process as you're going through and can hopefully pass on useful tips and advice to help you navigate any of the unique challenges you may face as a FN at GSFC.

New to the US and DC area, and looking for a FN “buddy”? Interested in signing up to be a volunteer and be connected with an incoming FN “buddy”? Sign up here using this form or by emailing

General Info

  • With some exceptions, most public transportation (buses and subways) can be paid for using a SmarTrip Card. The major exceptions are the MARC, VRE and Amtrak trains which all require separate tickets.
  • Parking tends to be the most difficult (and expensive) part of getting around downtown DC. It is usually a good idea to take public transport if you are going downtown and then get around locally by using a bikeshare or circulator bus.
  • NoVA - Northern Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria)
  • DMV - DC and its suburbs in southern Maryland and NoVa
  • Inner-loop - Suburbs inside of the 495 beltway, usually excluding downtown DC itself
  • 95-Corridor - Regions directly east and west of interstate-95, usually excluding the Inner-loop
  • Quadrants: DC is broken up into 4 quadrants (NW, NE, SE, SW) that all meet at the Capitol Building
    • Each street, and many landmarks, are designated by the quadrant they are in
    • E/W Streets increase in letter the further north/south they are from the Capitol
    • N/S Streets increase in number the further east/west they are from the Capitol
  • I-95: North & South highway along the East Coast
  • I-495: Inner (clockwise) & Outer Loops (counter-clockwise)
  • I-395: South into Alexandria/Springfield
  • I-66: West into VA
    • I-66 is a toll/HOV road between the beltway and DC, no toll west of I-495
  • I-270: North-West into MD
  • US-50: West into VA or East into MD towards Annapolis, MD
  • Baltimore-Washington Pkwy, North towards Baltimore, MD

Metrorail Subway (map)

  • Before using the subway system, it is always a good idea to first check the WMATA website, twitter, or use one of the metrorail apps (e.g., Android/Apple) to see if there is a delays or an outage (pretty common).
  • Closest Metro stops to Goddard:
    • New Carrollton Station - Eastern-most station on Orange line - ~10 minute drive to GSFC (20 mins by "TheBus" Route 15X)
    • Greenbelt Station - Eastern-most station on Green line - ~10 minute drive to GSFC (30 mins by "TheBus" Route 15X)
    • Largo Town Center Station- Eastern-most station on Blue & Silver lines - ~20 minute drive to GSFC

Commuter Rail and Trains

  • VRE - Virginia Railway Express (map). Transport from middle of VA (South or Fredericksburg line and West or Manassas line) towards DC and back. Does not run on weekends or national holidays. Tickets can by bought on the very buggy VRE Mobile app.
  • MARC - Maryland Area Regional Commuter (map). Transport from North-west (Brunswick Line), North-East (Penn Line), and North (Camden Line) Maryland. MARC does run a reduced schedule on weekends - double check their website for holiday schedules.
  • Amtrak - Regional train system with tickets to NYC, Miami, Chicago, and much more. Best place to catch an Amtrak train is Union Station in central DC.

Be aware that some bus maps from one system may show a different systems' routes as well (e.g., this Metro bus map also shows routes for "TheBus" system).

  • Metro Buses (dc map, GSFC map) - Covers the entire DC, Maryland, and Virginia Region. Mostly focused on transit to and from areas within the district. The rest of the bus systems on this list generally serve to fill in the gaps left by Metro or serve regions too far away to be considered within Metro's purview.
  • Fairfax Connector (map) - Connects the central and western areas of Fairfax County to Arlington and Alexandria in Virginia. Usually focused around transport to and from the Orange/Silver/Blue metro lines.
  • RideOn (map) - Covers most of Montgomery County, MD.
  • TheBus (map) - Sparsely covers Prince Georges County, MD. Route "15X" runs from Greenbelt Metro Station (Green & Yellow Lines) to NASA Goddard then to New Carrollton Metro Station (Orange Line).
  • RTA (map) - Has routes that connect Greenbelt to Laurel and Columbia in Maryland
  • ART (map) - Serves Arlington, VA and connects it to other nearby areas in Alexandria, Fairfax, and Pentagon/Crystal City.
  • DC Circulator (map) - Express bus routes to major POI within the heart of DC. Generally faster due to fewer stops, but very limited routes. Great alternative if a subway line is broken and you are exploring downtown.
  • DC Streetcar - Experimental streetcar program that has a single, super-limited route between Union Station and Kingman Island (near RFK Stadium). Not very useful, but during this experimental phase it is free to use!
  • Baltimore-Washington International - 40 minute drive north of Goddard.
    • Plenty of parking and access by MARC trains. There is a free shuttle form the Penn-Line MARC train station to the airport.
    • Parking Rates: $4/hr ($22/day max) hourly parking, $12/day daily parking, $8/day long-term parking (free shuttles provided to all parking lots except hourly).
    • Metro offers BWI Express Metro bus service between BWI Marshall Airport and the Greenbelt Metro Station. The BWI Express/B30 service runs every 60 minutes from BWI Marshall Airport during these times: Monday-Friday 6:30 a.m.-9:33 p.m. It costs $7.50 if you use a SmarTrip card.
  • Dulles International - 70 minute drive west of Goddard in VA.
    • Plenty of parking Silver line metro can get you close enough to take a bus or cab.
    • Parking Rates: Terminal lot $6/hr ($25/day max), Garages 1 & 2 $6/hr ($17/day max), Economy lot $10/day (free shuttles provided to all lots).
    • An express bus is runs every ~20 mins from 6a-10p weekdays and 8a-9p weekends between Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station and the airport for $5 each way (Cash or Credit, NO SmarTrip).
    • Fairfax Connector routes 981 and 983 also go between Wiehle metro station and the airport at a cheaper rate (and you can use SmarTrip), but it is a slower ride.
    • Metro bus route 5A runs between the airport and L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station (with only a few stops in between) for $7.50 using SmarTrip.
  • Reagan National Airport - 40 minute drive south west of Goddard on the Potomac River.
    • Limited and expensive parking but easy access via the Blue and Yellow metro lines and many bus lines.
    • Parking Rates: Terminal A and B/C Garage $6/hr ($25/day max), Economy Lot (usually very full) $17/day.
    • From the Blue/Yellow line metro station it is easy to walk to Terminals B or C. Going too and from Terminal A to the station can be a bit tricky, so it is recommended that you use the free airport shuttle bus and get off at the Terminal B/C stop and then walk to the station.
    • Many other bus and train services (including VRE) can drop-off/pick-up at Crystal City or Pentagon which is a short metro hop away from the airport.

There is a small (but growing) water taxi and ferry transportation service on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. It is not a particular cheap way (cheaper than a taxi or ride-share!) to get around, but on a nice spring day it can be beautiful way to get to spots that are hard to access by the metro.

The primary service provider is the Potomac Riverboat Company.

Taxi boat service:

  • Georgetown (NW DC) ⇆ Old Town Alexandria
  • Georgetown (NW DC) ⇆ The Wharf (SW DC) ⇆ National Harbor
  • Old Town Alexandria ⇆ National Harbor

NGAPS+ Housing Guide

If you have any suggestions for the housing guide, please contact one of the NGAPS+ officers. We want to keep this guide as up-to-date and applicable to the largest possible area. So if you have experience living in a neighborhood that is not mentioned on the current housing guide please fill out this template and email it to one of our officers.

There is a Microsoft Teams channel run by early career parents at NASA Goddard. You can use it to ask questions and get advice from your peers. Please contact one of our officers to get an invite.

NASA Goddard Child Development Center (GCDC)