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12 Best Weekend Getaways from Washington D.C.

When you live in D.C., you often feel like you’re smack dab in the middle of everything going on. Whether or not you’re into politics, the nation’s capital has an incredibly busy vibe with so many top attractions and events going on all throughout the year. Being in the center of the universe has its perks, but sometimes it can get exhausting too.

Election impacts are felt more strongly here than in most parts of the country, and a little break from all that can do a world of good for the mind, body, and soul. Here are a few relaxing getaway ideas to break away from the hustle and bustle of D.C. life, even if only for a weekend.

Charlottesville, Virginia Office of the University President at Madison Hall, Charlottesville
Credit: Office of the University President at Madison Hall, Charlottesville by bigstock.com

Charlottesville, Virginia

The University of Virginia is located in Charlottesville, but even if you’re nowhere near college student age, it’s nice to take a walk through the beautiful campus. Charlottesville is about 120 miles away from Washington, D.C., which takes about two and a half hours to reach by car. If you head just outside the city limits, you can also learn more about historical figures like James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Thomas Jefferson is credited for founding the university here. There are lots of things to do in Charlottesville, including wineries and cideries worth visiting here as well. Book transportation through a local company to get from one winery to the next and leave the driving hassles to a professional.

Annapolis, Maryland The harbor of Annapolis
Credit: The harbor of Annapolis by bigstock.com

Annapolis, Maryland

Annapolis is a beautiful seaside city that is a fun getaway from D.C., and it only takes about an hour to get here. You can park your car and simply stroll along the streets until you reach the waterfront. It’s along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and has a refreshing down-to-earth vibe. There are lots of shops along the way and boats in the harbor to check out. In fact, Annapolis is considered to be the sailing capital of America! Take a sailing course of the weekend if you have some money to spend, or You can take a walking break and hop on a boat via sightseeing cruise to see the sights from the water if you like. This is an excellent getaway for history buffs, and St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy are located here as well.

Assateague Island, Maryland You can see the wild ponies in their natural habitat at Assateague Island.
Credit: You can see the wild ponies in their natural habitat at Assateague Island. by bigstockphoto.com

Assateague Island, Maryland

Wild horses in Maryland? Who would have thought that existed?! Assateague Island is a place where you can see them for yourself and also camp right on the beach. There are some amazing trails here for hiking and biking, and you can even bring your dog to camp with you. This is a place to come if you’re looking for peace and quiet and don’t want to spend a lot of money on your weekend getaway.

St. Michaels, Maryland St. Michaels, Maryland
Credit: St. Michaels, Maryland by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

St. Michaels, Maryland

Head about an hour and a half out of D.C. and you’ll reach Maryland’s shore. This is where the town of St. Michael’s is located and where the movie, Wedding Crashers, was filmed at The Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond. This inn also has a sailing academy where you can take a two-day beginner course. However, the town dates back to the 1600s and has only more recently been embraced by tourists. This is also an excellent place to visit for seafood lovers, especially those who enjoy fresh crab and mussels. There are plenty of great drinking spots here too, including Eastern Shore Brewing and the Lyon Distilling Company. Local shops also rent out canoes and kayaks, so you can get active on the water to work off some of those drinks and rich dishes.

Chincoteague Island, Virginia Chincoteague Island, Virginia
Credit: Chincoteague Island, Virginia by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

Chincoteague Island, Virginia

Take a drive about three and a half hours from D.C. to reach one of the most beautiful parts of Virginia’s eastern shore. There are wild horses here too and a quiet vibe that is much appreciated after stressful workdays in the nation’s capital. Popular things to do on Chincoteague Island include boat charters, pony tours, golf, hang gliding, and scenic flights. It’s also just fun to rent bikes, go crabbing and clamming, and visit the local farmer’s market. Annual events are the oyster festival, blueberry festival, a seafood festival, and art festival.

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Rehoboth Beach
Credit: Rehoboth Beach by bigstock.com

Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

For a beach getaway close to D.C., it doesn’t get much better than Rehoboth Beach along the Delaware coast. This beach destination is about two and a half hours from D.C. and has a fun nightlife scene to check out once the sun goes down. Along the boardwalk, you’ll find retro games like skeeball and plenty of ice cream shops to choose from. This is a popular family destination that gets busy on summer weekends. If you’re a craft beer fan, you can stay at the Dogfish Inn in the nearby town of Lewes. Or visit the actual brewery in Milton, but just know that it’s a very popular spot so you might be waiting a while to get the bartender’s attention for a drink. If you extend your weekend stay, you must visit the Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market on Tuesdays.

Richmond, Virginia Richmond, Virginia
Credit: Richmond, Virginia by © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com

Richmond, Virginia

Richmond is an amazing place to visit if you enjoy history, and there’s a great riverfront walk that’s fun for taking a stroll and getting some exercise. It only takes about two hours to reach Richmond from D.C., so it’s an easy getaway destination. Richmond has also emerged as a top destination for food, local brews, and outdoor adventure. Lickinghole and Strangeways are just a couple of the many breweries here worth checking out.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia Aerial view over the National Park town of Harpers Ferry
Credit: Aerial view over the National Park town of Harpers Ferry by © Steveheap | Dreamstime.com

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

A trip to West Virginia may sound like a long journey, but it only takes about an hour and a half to get here from Washington, D.C. This is actually the place where the states of West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland meet. Harpers Ferry is a great place to learn about history, listen to live music, and sample local products. The Bloomery Sweetshine Distillery is located here and whips up some amazing fruit cordials. With a national park and two rivers here, Harpers Ferry is also a fun place for outdoor lovers to visit. There are some great hiking trails, and even the epic Appalachian Trail passes through the area if you’re up for a serious challenge.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Credit: Shenandoah National Park, Virginia by bigstock.com

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

To get your nature fix while living in or visiting D.C., head to Shenandoah National Park. One of the most popular and toughest hikes here is called Old Rag, which is a nine-mile route that has scrambles that challenge even experienced hikers. The route takes about seven or eight hours for most people to complete, so make sure you’re physically fit enough to attempt it and bring plenty of food and water. Another great hike here that’s a bit easier is Whiteoak Canyon, which is more like five miles. The town of Syria, Virginia is nearby and home to Rose River Farm, which has yurts that offer lovely views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Ellicott City, Maryland Ellicott City, Maryland
Credit: Ellicott City, Maryland by © Jon Bilous | Dreamstime.com

Ellicott City, Maryland

It’s about an hour and a half to get to Ellicott City in Maryland, which is an old Quaker mill town that has a downtown area on the National Register of Historic Places. The architecture here dates back to the 1700s and 1800s, so you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time once you arrive. Definitely check out the Thomas Isaac log cabin, pictured here, and the B&O Railroad Museum, which commemorates the oldest train station in the country.

Sperryville, Virginia Town of Sperryville
Credit: Town of Sperryville by C Watts via Flickr

Sperryville, Virginia

You’ll only need to travel about an hour and a half from Washington, D.C. to reach the town of Sperryville, Virginia, which is a gateway to Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park. Meanwhile, the town itself is charming with local B&Bs, al fresco dining, and the Copper Fox Distillery that offers tours on a regular basis.

Mill Run & Farmington, Pennsylvania Tree Roots near Farmington
Credit: Tree Roots near Farmington by bigstock.com

Mill Run & Farmington, Pennsylvania

Mill Run and Farmington are neighboring towns in Pennsylvania that are about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Washington, D.C. This is a family-friendly destination where the whole family can have fun in the great outdoors with paintball, clay pigeon shooting, ropes courses, and zip lines. Architecture lovers will enjoy visiting Falling Water, which is a Frank Lloyd Wright creation that’s just a short drive away.

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