I love DC. I really do. We have so many of the great city things like restaurants, music, museums, live performances, bars, diverse crowds, etc. without the chaos of New York. Growing up just outside of San Francisco, I tend to prefer my cities under 100 square miles thankyouverymuch.
But nonetheless, you still need to escape the city every now and then. And in my two and a half years in DC, I think I’ve done a good job of exploring much of the surrounding area with day and weekend trips.
Of course having a car makes things easier, but it’s simple enough to get a ZipCar or even rent a car for the day or weekend. There is so much to see and do within a few hours of DC that it would be a shame to stay in the city every weekend and miss out on so many neat destinations.
Below are some suggested day trips. Tomorrow, I’ll post more on weekend getaway suggestions.
Mount Vernon – We went to Mount Vernon last weekend with my dad, and had a great time. You want to make sure to go when the weather is nice, since you’ll be walking around the property. Washington had a beautiful view of the Potomac, so give yourself some time to hang out on the back porch and in the back yard. Approx. driving time: 40 minutes.
Virginia wine tasting – There are so many places nearby where you can go wine tasting. No guarantees that the wine is always great, but wine tasting is always a fun thing to do with a date or a group of friends. Take a look at a wine map before you go to make sure you’re heading to a spot with a few vineyards nearby. Less driving means more time for wine. Leesburg is probably the closest spot to DC where you’ll find a high concentration of wineries. Approx. driving time: 1 hour
Skyline Drive – Skyline Drive is the main drag through Shenandoah National Park. There’s a $15 fee per car to get into the park, but then you’re free to drive around and hike at will. Fall is obviously a great time to make this trip, since you’ll have great views of the changing leaves. There are also a few lodges in the park where you can grab a drink or a bite to eat. The closest entrance to DC is Thornton Gap. It’s a bit further than most of these other spots, but it’s definitely doable for a day. Approx. driving time: 2 hours
Sandy Point State Park – Sandy Point might not be the best beach around, but it’s a strip of sand along a body of water. And if you want to get some sun, sand and water for a day, this is your best bet. The park tends to get crowded on the weekends with local families flocking to the beach, so be sure that you are mentally prepared for the crowds. And lots of kids. But it’s a nice little getaway for the day. Approx driving time: 1 hour
Annapolis – Crabs and hammers. Enough said. Get thee to Cantler’s (or any other crab shack) for crack your own crab and other delicious sea food! Downtown Annapolis is a cute area with plenty of boutiques, ice cream “shoppes”, and restaurants. It’s a great are to walk around and window shop–and of course you have to make your way down to the water to sit on the pier and watch the boats go by. Approx. driving time: 1 hour – but it can be way more if you hit Bay Bridge traffic.
Larriland Farm, Butler’s Orchard, other VA/MD farms – There is no better Fall activity than apple or pumpkin picking. The great thing is that you don’t need to limit yourself to just apples and pumpkins. Many of our local farms also let you pick other produce–so be prepared to come home with quite the bounty! Check the farm’s website to find out what’s in season. Depending on the season, you’ll find peaches, berries, tomatoes, and all sort of veggies. Approx. driving time: 1 hour
Harper’s Ferry – This is a great summer destination when you want to cool off in the Shenandoah River. Pack up a car with friends and beer, and head out to West Virginia for a day of tubing. If you’re feeling more adventurous, most of the companies also offer white water rafting trips through Class I, II and III rapids. Like most nearby towns, Harper’s Ferry has a lot of Civil War history, so be sure to check it out if that’s your thing. Approx. driving time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Do you have a favorite day trip destination?