If you’re like me, you’ve gotten most of your Christmas shopping done online and have avoided the malls. More and more people are accepting shipments instead of heading to stores these days, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see crowded shopping centers as we head into the last week before the holiday.
For this reason, it’s probably wise to avoid driving near any malls or shopping centers if you can avoid it. Motorists should expect major congestion near any place attracting last-minute shoppers, especially during early evenings as people pick up gifts on their way home from work.
Here’s a look at some of the areas drivers should avoid in the coming week, if at all possible:
- Tysons Corner Center- Traffic around here is hellacious on a normal day, but you definitely want to avoid the whole area near Chain Bridge Road and Leesburg Pike. Expect big backups near exits from the Beltway and I-66.
- Pentagon City/Pentagon Row/Crystal City - Ugh. That whole area around 395 and Route 1 in Arlington, is chock full of stores—and traffic. Add in Shirlington, Arlington Ridge, and Potomac Yard, and that makes for a ton of potential shoppers in a small area.
- Springfield Town Center - Further down on I-395 and south of the Beltway, you will run into 250 stores at Springfield Town Center, plus Spring Mall Center and the Concord Shopping Center. Expect delays on I-395 as you approach the Springfield exits and avoid Franconia Road, Backlick Road, and Manchester Boulevard, if you can.
- Potomac Mills - It’s always slow going on I-95 south until you get past Prince William County, but expect extra delays as you head into the Woodbridge area. Expect a tough time around the Prince William Parkway and Route 1 in the area.
- Other areas to avoid: Dulles Town Center, Leesburg Outlets.
- Westfield Annapolis Mall/Annapolis Towne Centre - Traffic to this major shopping area will create backups on Route 50 heading west. Expect madness around the Festival at Riva shopping center and Forest Drive. Even Route 70 heading into downtown Annapolis will be ugly. This could be bad news for anyone wanting to get to Route 3, and local people in that area can expect congestion as they head north toward the Village at Waugh Chapel and Waugh Chapel Towne Center.
- Westfield Montgomery Mall - There’s always a backup around Bethesda at peak times, but you definitely want to think twice about taking the I-270 spur North off the Beltway, and stay away from Fernwood Road, Democracy Boulevard, and Westlake Drive
- Arundel Mills/Maryland Live! - If you’re heading north toward Baltimore, be prepared for significant delays on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway as you approach Route 32 and Route 100. The mall will be packed, there will be traffic to the casino, there’s a 24-screen movie theatre showing the new Star Wars flick, and you will still be dealing with the usual traffic coming out of Fort Meade and NSA. Stay away.
- Others areas to avoid: National Harbor/MGM Casino/Tanger Outlets, The Mall in Columbia, Westfield Wheaton, the Mall at Prince George’s, Downtown Bethesda/Chevy Chase.
What other holiday hotspots do you plan to avoid over the next week or so?
Click here to sign up for commuter news and real-time traffic updates for free, delivered to your inbox Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.