Within a few blocks of the main archives building downtown, you'll find restaurants, a full-service post office, a copy store, office supplies, a drug store, coffee shops, hotels, bookstores, banks, ATMs, historic sites, museums, art galleries, monuments and more.
The winter months are somewhat quieter at the archives, but you won't have much trouble researching at any time of year. A few more people might be waiting for readers or copiers in the afternoon, but crowds generally aren't a big problem. Make your first visit during weekday daytime hours — this is when you'll find staff and volunteers to help you learn the ropes and order records.
Three major airports serve the area. If you're flying into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport <www.metwashairports.com/national>, you can take the Metrorail subway directly from the airport to the archives (see <www.wmata.com> or call 202-637-7000 for maps and schedules). The Metro Archives-Navy Memorial Station across the street from the archives connects directly or by transfer to all the other Metro stations in the greater Washington area. Many of these stations are near hotels. You can reach more-distant hotels by taxi or hotel shuttle. Some of the Metro stations have parking lots. Parking isn't always available downtown; if you want to give it a try, however, you'll find several parking lots in the vicinity of the archives.