The frazzled commuter, the dedicated fashionista, and the avid souvenir shopper all cross paths under the honeycombed arches of Union Station's Main Hall. Marble floors and a gold leafed ceiling lend this hive of commerce and transit an elegance that would befit one of Washington's many monuments or museums. Yet, Union Station is no memorial, but rather a functional amalgamation of public transit center and shopping mall.
Visitors who step off of the train with red, white, and blue stars in their eyes can browse the abundant souvenir shops in the West Hall. Making History specializes in a range of products from hats to history books by which to remember your Washington visit. However, if you are not craving a White House apron, delve into Union Station's teeming interior. Though luggage may fly by at unsettling speeds as someone races to catch a train, the ambience of movement – trains arriving and departing, waves of passengers ebbing and flowing – enriches the shopping experience.
Stores ornament the walkways and offer to distract you. Try a new hand lotion at Origins or discover an unfamiliar artist at FYE Music and Movies. A wide selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories flaunt themselves from glass storefronts with familiar names such as Jos. A. Bank Clothiers and Express, while other venues may offer a new experience. The East Hall Shops are arranged in a market style and offer a variety of jewelry and handmade crafts.
Before tackling the rest of your day (perhaps a tour of the Capitol or the Supreme Court, only a few blocks away, or maybe some extended shopping), refortify at the Center Cafe. Dwarfed by the lofty ceilings of the Main Hall and surrounded by the whirring crowd, the aptly named Center Cafe sits at the hub of Union Station's activity, offering a lively view and a savory meal. The food court on the lower level is a treat for more indecisive diners. Whatever decisions you make throughout your visit, make sure to pause in the Main Hall and look up at the gold encrusted ceiling, soaring 96 feet above your head. Did you really just go shopping here?
- Monday – Saturday 10am to 9pm, Sunday 12pm to 6pm
- 2 West /40 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, DC
- Metro Stop:
- Redline to Union Station