If you’re a resident of Baltimore, you already know all of the great things to see and do in “Charm City.” But sometimes, you just need to get away from home and experience the sights and sounds of a new place. And there are plenty of places within a few hours driving distance of Baltimore that are just waiting to be discovered. From history and culture to nature and recreation, these quick weekend getaways include something for every traveler, no matter your tastes, schedule or budget.
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The small town of Thurmont, located in the Catoctin Mountains, is a great weekend getaway spot, especially if you’re traveling with children. First, there’s plenty of natural beauty to enjoy at Catoctin Mountain State Park and Cunningham Falls State Park. But, there’s also the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo, where you can check out the animals up close on a safari ride. And, the Catoctin Mountain Orchard, where you can pick your own apples and berries and go shopping in the Orchard store for jams, jellies, baked goods and more.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Because of Baltimore’s convenient location, you can travel for just one hour and find yourself in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. Situated in the Shenandoah Valley, Harpers Ferry is located where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet and is a popular spot for all kinds of watersports including kayaking, canoeing and whitewater rafting. There are also twenty miles of hiking trails to explore in the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Because the area is very rich in history, there are lots of significant sites to visit as well, like the Harper House, Arsenal Square and John Brown’s Fort.
Deep Creek Lake, Maryland
Another beautiful area for enjoying the outdoors is Deep Creek Lake, about a three-hour drive from Baltimore. This popular destination is a great choice no matter what time of year you’re visiting, thanks to a wide variety of activities. During the winter months, WISP Ski Resort offers skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and even an alpine roller coaster. But, there’s plenty to do during the summertime too, including a canopy tour, rope courses, mountain biking, disc golf and archery. Plus, Deep Creek Lake State Park also offers kayaks, canoes and paddleboards that you can rent and take out on the water.
Bethany Beach, Delaware
For a quick beach getaway, Bethany Beach, DE is just a short three-hour drive from Baltimore. And, unlike some of the other larger, more populated beaches nearby like Dewey Beach and Ocean City, MD, Bethany is more low-key and less crowded. There’s still plenty to do here stroll through the shops along the boardwalk, play miniature golf, go to the spa, visit Fenwick Island State Park or, of course, go sunbathing and swimming at the beach.
If you are a big fan of history, you’ll definitely want to take a weekend trip to Colonial Williamsburg, just a little over three hours from Baltimore, where you’ll see history come alive all around you. In fact, it’s considered the largest living history museum in the country. You won’t just find a bunch of boring exhibits here. Instead, there are original 18th-century buildings to explore, carriage rides, two art museums, costumed tradespeople demonstrating various trades using 18th-century techniques and tools, and four historic taverns where you can experience authentic dishes served by traditionally-dressed waitstaff. If you’re lucky, you may even run into an important figure like Martha Washington or Thomas Jefferson during your visit!
Assateague Island, Maryland
Animal lovers will especially love a getaway to Assateague Island, located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, about two and a half hours from Baltimore. In addition to sunbathing, swimming and walking along the sand, the best part of visiting this beautiful island is catching a glimpse of the wild ponies that live here. Although many of them are kept in a private area away from public access, you can still get a good view of them by taking a boat tour or a wildlife bus tour. Besides the ponies, you’ll have a chance to see other wildlife on the tour like deer, elk and a variety of birds. During your visit to the area, you can also take a tour of the historic Assateague Lighthouse that dates back to 1867, and go hiking or mountain biking on the several miles of trails spread across the island. There are also plenty of opportunities for bird watching, crabbing, clamming and fishing.