A Fan’s Guide to Planning your Washington Capitals Game Day

October 5, 2021 | Inside Scoop | By: The Goodhart Group

We’ve got everything you need to know to plan for your trip to Capital One Arena to see the Washington Capitals live in action. From top happy hours by the stadium to the best places to sit and buy tickets, this guide will give you everything you need to know before you go. 


A Brief History 

After being marred by years of high hopes and playoff disappointment, the Capitals brought Washington D.C its first championship since the 1992 Washington Football Team in capturing their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2018. Ovechkin’s arrival in 2005 catapulted the Capitals to a contender and they have been a top team in the NHL ever since. 


Getting There: Metro and Parking 

The Capitals play their home games at Capital One Arena in downtown Washington D.C. where they’ve called home since 1997. Capital One Arena is very accessible via Metro on the Red, Green, and Yellow lines, with the Gallery Place Chinatown station sitting directly beneath the arena. Metro Center is also only a few blocks away if you’re an Orange, Blue, or Silver Line rider. If you’re driving, there are also numerous parking garages a short walk away from the stadium ranging from $15 to $25 to park for a game. Check out Spot Hero to check out the garages close by and to reserve your spot in advance. There are also the usual ride-share options, but as you can imagine, it can be quite hectic catching an Uber after a game lets out. 


Where to Eat and Drink Around the Stadium  

Known as Penn Quarter and Chinatown, the area around the arena has exploded with commercial development over the past 20 years since the arena was built. Below are some of our favorite options to grab a drink or bite to eat before or after the game. The nice part about the area around Capital One Arena is that the bars and restaurants do still offer happy hour deals on game days, while many spots by Nationals Park typically don’t offer game-day deals. 


District Chophouse

509 7th St. NW 

Located about a block south of the arena, the District Chophouse has been around for about as long as Capital One Arena has. They offer great happy hour food and drink specials including their long list of draught beer which is all brewed in-house and only $6 during happy hour. Give their onion ring tower a try if you have a big appetite!


480 7th St. NW

Jaleo is famous DC chef Jose Andres’ oldest restaurant in the District. Some of the more popular menu items include fried baby squid, salads, and Spanish tortillas.  If you’re looking for a more unique dining experience before or after the game, Jaleo should be a spot you check out.


707 7th St. NW

Located in Gallery Place right next to the stadium, you can catch this community favorite just steps from the stadium entrance on 7th street. Clyde’s has a big bar as well as classic bar food as well as fancier items like steaks and crab cakes. 

Penn Quarter Sports Tavern

639 Indiana Ave. NW

Situated about three blocks south of Capital One Arena and adjacent to the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro stop, Penn Quarter Sports Tavern dubbs itself the place “where DC watches sports.” PQST was founded in 2004 by a local DC Sports fan, so you know the local team will always be on here. They have a big drink menu as well as standard sports bar fare, including burgers, sandwiches, nachos, wings, and more.

Buying Tickets and Where to Sit 

Hockey is an incredibly fast-paced sport with non-stop back-and-forth action that isn’t quite seen in other live sports. With that comes incredibly high energy from Caps fans from the moment warm-ups start before the game. 

So you’ve decided you want to go to a game, now what’s the best way to get tickets? The Capitals offer several different game packages if you’d like to buy multiple games to go to part of a package. You can also, of course purchase single game tickets directly through the team. One outlet to look for the occasional deal last minute is Stub Hub, where you can often find tickets at discounted rates. Where you should sit is largely up to how you want to experience the game and treat your wallet as well. Tickets in the lower level are typically more expensive, while those in the upper level are cheaper. Nothing beats being close to the action in the lower level while being able to see and appreciate the speed and big hits. The seats in the upper level, however, allow you to see plays develop from a wider angle than if you were down in the first few rows. 


Game Etiquette

There are also a handful of “unwritten rules” of attending hockey games you should definitely try to follow. For example, don’t get up or come back to your seat in the middle of the play. Ushers will not let you back down in the middle of the play, but even if an usher isn’t there, you should still be respectful and wait for a stoppage in play before returning to your seat or getting up. One of the other big unwritten rules, especially in the middle sections of the upper and lower levels, is to not lean forward in your seat. Leaning forward in your seat usually blocks your neighbor’s view of the game while the play is on the other end of the ice.

In terms of etiquette specific to Caps games, the most obvious one is to wear red! The Rock the Red marketing moniker began in 2008 when the Caps were making their first playoff run with Ovechkin and has stuck ever since. If you don’t have any Caps gear of your own, there are several merchandise stands and a team store in the arena, as well as a huge team store at MedStar Capitals Iceplex in Ballston. The other obvious one is BE LOUD!