The District is full of awesome things to do, see and eat. From gorgeous restaurants to exciting exhibitions, the city has it all. But we all feel like venturing out into the world every now and then. That’s why we’ve put together this list of 11 awesome day trips from D.C.. We’ve organized them from closest to furthest to make deciding where to go easier. Check them out!
1. Old Town Alexandria, VA (22 mins)
Ok so, Alexandria is so close to D.C. that you could technically argue it’s like not leaving the city at all…but hear me out. This lovely town is full of fun things to see and do like visiting its new cat café, exploring its streets in search of historic sites or walking along the Potomac when it’s filled with holiday decorations. If you’re up for it, you can also drive out to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s old estate to spend an afternoon learning about our first president and the history of others who lived and worked at Mount Vernon.
2. Brookside Gardens, MD (45 mins)
Spread out over 50 acres of land featuring a Garden of Lights for the holidays, the beautiful Brookside Gardens are located inside Wheaton National Park. The gardens are divided into several different areas that visitors can see including a butterfly garden, a rose garden, an aquatic garden, and a Japanese-style garden. They’re open from dawn until dusk every single day of the year so you can visit them pretty much any time you want!
3. Baltimore, MD (1 hr)
This bustling city has plenty to discover around the holidays! If you’re an art fan you can visit the American Visionary Art Museum, or if you’re more fond of science and nature, the National Aquarium and the Maryland Science Center are great destinations for adults and children alike. For history buffs and literature lovers, Fort McHenry, the most historic site in town, is the one that inspired poet Francis Scott Key to pen ‘Defence of Fort M’Henry’ in 1812–the basis for the national anthem of the US. Truth is, Baltimore has something for everyone!
4. Kent Island, MD (1 hr)
Kent Island is the biggest in the Chesapeake Bay and one of the most historically significant places in the whole of Maryland. Must-see places include Cray House, the old Stevensville post office and the Stevensville Train Depot. There’s also a fabulous brewery named Cult Classic Brewing that sells craft beers, IPAs and more.
5. Middleburg, VA (1 hr)
This town is heralded as one of the most festive towns in the country and is set against miles of sprawling green hills and farms near the Blue Ridge Mountains is a great destination for horse and wine lovers alike. The upscale town is full of horse farms and has more than 20 wineries! So if you’re feeling a quick horse ride to get in the holiday spirit, then head to Middleburg. Plus it’s also home to the much-talked-about Middleburg Christmas Parade held every year in early December.
6. Harpers Ferry, WV (1.5 hrs)
This gorgeous little town is located at the merging of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. Harpers Ferry offers activities for both adventures and the less intrepid, including the beautiful Maryland Heights Trail which overlooks the city. If you’re looking for a rush of adrenaline you can also go whitewater rafting or tubing on the Potomac but if you’re just looking for a relaxed day out of the city, we suggest wandering around Harpers Ferry’s cobblestone streets-it’s a charming little town!
7. Shenandoah National Park, VA (1.5 hrs)
Like Harper’s Ferry, Shenandoah National Park is perfect for hikers and lovers of nature. If you’re looking to go for the day you can explore one of its many hiking trails or, since it’s still warm out, why not go swimming in one of its many stunning swimming holes?
8. Gettysburg, PA (1.5 hrs)
Another great destination for history buffs. Explore the extensive fields of Gettysburg on foot, horse, or even segway, and discover the ins and outs of the USA’s most costly battle! Here you’ll find the Gettysburg Museum and Visitor Center which displays Civil War artifacts. The Gettysburg National Cemetery is also home to a famous memorial that marks the site of Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Gettysburg Address.
9. Richmond, VA (2 hrs)
If you’re looking for a culinary adventure then we suggest going to Richmond, this city has plenty of great food options ranging from modern French cuisine to traditional Italian dishes. Unbeatable cheese boards? Check. Sensational pizza and pasta dishes? They’ve got it all. Plus, Carry Street is perfect for browsing through endless rows of vintage clothes!
10. St. Michael’s, MD (2 hrs)
This small seaside town on the Chesapeake Bay is straight out of our best nautical dreams! Take in the beautiful harbor views, try your hand at water sports, or explore the town’s booze scene for a totally awesome day. We also suggest visiting St. Michael’s Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum; its 18-acre campus is home to a fleet of historic boats, a restored 1879 lighthouse, and rotating exhibits on maritime art, photography, and history.
11. Gaithersburg, MD (40 mins)
This lovely little town, which is less than an hour away from D.C., is hosting one of the most unique and memorable holiday light shows in the DMV area. This year, LuminoCity is bringing the “Bay State Blissfest” light show to Gaithersburg between November 24th and January 15th.
12. Frederick, MD (1.5 hours)
While a bit of a trek to get to, this place is well worth the trip with its unique traditions and festive atmosphere. You can walk along their annual “Sailing Through the Winter Solstice” event, which consists of a series of creatively designed and beautifully lit boats parked along Carroll Creek. In addition to this unique family-friendly festive fun, there are also a lot of local small businesses and cozy cafes to stop in for some holiday shopping or a cup of hot chocolate.
[Featured image: REVOLT, Unsplash]