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If you live in or near the beautiful capital of Washington, D.C., you’re probably already familiar with all of the great things to do in the city. But, if you’re looking for a quick getaway from all the hustle and bustle, there are plenty of amazing places to visit just outside the city too, all within a few hours’ drive away. Just pack up some snacks, hop in the car and check out some of these awesome day trips from Washington, D.C.
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Although Harper’s Ferry is just an hour and a half from Washington, DC, you’ll feel as if you’re worlds away once you step into its beautiful natural landscapes. From the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Potomac River to the rich history of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, there’s plenty to explore here. If you’re an adventurous traveler, you can go for a kayak or whitewater raft ride down the river. Or, if you’d rather take things a little slower, there are over 20 miles of hiking trails to explore in the Park. There’s also an adorable downtown district to meander through with lots of quaint shops and restaurants.
Just shy of two hours away, the capital city of Richmond, VA is full of great things to do, whether you’re taking a quick family trip or having some adults-only getaway time. Nature lovers will want to visit Maymont and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, while art lovers will appreciate the expansive collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts that spans over 500 years. There are also lots of restaurants, breweries and cideries to explore either on your own or through a pre-arranged group tour.
Although Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is a single attraction, you can easily spend an entire day exploring it. The picturesque historic estate is just over two hours from downtown DC and was the home of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. The estate covers a massive 2,500 acres of beautiful countryside and guests can visit the house, as well as an impressive collection of gardens. A continual thinker and innovator, Jefferson continued to design, re-design and renovate the home for over 40 years and used the gardens a laboratory to discover a variety of useful flowers, fruits and vegetables. There are a variety of tours available including a family-friendly tour, a slavery tour and a behind the scenes tour.
Baltimore, known as “Charm City,” is just a little over an hour from DC and offers a ton of things to do, all with a beautiful backdrop of the waterfront area known as the “Inner Harbor.” There are lots of shops, restaurants and bars, many of which feature outdoor dining, as well as the quaint village of Little Italy just down the street from the Harbor, where you can feast on authentic Italian fare. You can take a paddleboat ride around the harbor, take in some live music or solve an escape room at Power Plant Live, or visit the National Aquarium, which is home to more than 20,000 different animals. Or if you’re a major sports fan, plan your visit to coincide with a baseball game at Camden Yards or a Ravens game at M&T Bank Stadium.
Located in the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park stretches across a massive 196,000 acres and is brimming with breathtaking scenery. One of the best ways to visit the park and take in its beauty is to drive along Skyline Drive – a 105-mile long road that travels along the crest of the mountains and reaches elevations of 3,680 feet. You can pick up Skyline Drive at several different locations and pull off to snap pictures at nearly 70 different scenic overlooks. There are also opportunities to explore the park by hiking, rock climbing, rappelling and horseback riding. If you decide to make an overnight trip of it, you can also choose to camp in the park, stay at Skyland or Big Meadows Lodge, and take in some authentic live entertainment like clog dancing, bluegrass and folk music.
Although you might not think of the beach as a day trip, Ocean City is only three hours from DC, so it’s completely doable to pop over for some sun and sand and still be back in time for work or school the next day. Ocean City has an endless amount of things to do including a boardwalk full of shops and restaurants, an amusement park, miniature golf courses, craft breweries, fishing, watersports and of course, sunbathing on the sand. The city also hosts special events all year long, so be sure to check their calendar and see what might be going on during your visit.