Easy Day Trips from Washington, DC
There are lots of places to visit in and around the immediate DC area, but many more areas to be explored in the areas surrounding the nation’s capital. If you’re live in DC or are looking to take some day trips, here are some great ideas for nearby places to explore.
How to get there? To be honest, many routes are best done by driving your own vehicle or renting a car. Trains aren’t super fast, cheap, or popular in America, so I’d recommend looking into Greyhound or Megabus. If you can get a faster Amtrak for a good price, that’s great!
Also take note that traffic in the DC are is very congested usually so you’ll need to look into traffic patterns and determine when you can get to your destination.
* Note that I’ve been to all of these places but don’t have (quality) photos for all of them. This post will be revised later as I gather better photos.
Big City Getaways
Time: About 1 hour
Things to Do: If you’re into art, Baltimore is a dream! One of my favourite museums, the Walters, is housed in Baltimore. The American Visionary Art Museum is a more contemporary but very interesting place, and a lot of peoples’ favourites. If you only have a day and aren’t interested in art, other popular museums are the B&O Railroad Museum, Edgar Allan Poe House & Museum and gravesite, and the famous National Aquarium. It’s a really nice and large aquarium but is it worth $40? Up to you.
Don’t forget to grab some delicious food in Fells Points or Canton before leaving.
Time: About 2-3 hours
Things to Do: Another of my favourite art museums is here, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Richmond was the capital of the Confederate States so the White House of the Confederacy and American Civil War Museum explain a big part of the city’s history. You can also get to know Edgar Allan Poe more with the Poe Museum.
Time: 3-4 hours driving, 1.5-2 hours by train
Things to Do: As America’s original capital city, Philadelphia has a lot to offer especially for history lovers. You can learn a lot about the birth of modern America at the Museum of the American Revolution, National Constitution Centre, and Independence Hall, where you can see the Liberty Bell. Some other popular destinations include Eastern State Penitentiary, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (personally not my favourite), and the Franklin Institute – one of my and several others’ favourites.
And you can learn even more about Edgar Allan Poe here! He got around.
Smaller Historic Cities
Time: 1 hour
Things to Do: Annapolis is known for the Naval Academy, which has a museum you can visit, but it also has a lot of historic houses to view like the Hammond-Harwood House, the William Paca House, and more. But if you have a day in Annapolis, I’d recommend going for a boat ride on the bay and trying out a delicious local restaurant. Annapolis is very chill and nice to walk around.
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Things to Do: Fredericksburg is much like Annapolis in that it is a colonial-era town (and George Washington’s home town) that still has a lot to see in the ways of historic houses. The Kenmore is a nice one, as is the Mary Washington House and Chatham Manor. Fredericksburg is also very nice to walk, look at antiques, and eat some delicious local food. They have a tonne of vegan food there.
Time: 2.5-3 hours
Things to Do: Charlottesville’s a smaller college town so it’s a nice day trip to see one or two things and grab a bite to eat at CVille Downtown Mall or other parts of W Main St. The University of Virginia is a beautiful university designed by Thomas Jefferson, and you can also see the college dorm room of – wait for it – Edgar Allan Poe. There’s also the home of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello, which is a really nice site. He owned a lot of lands and vineyards and it’s a gorgeous spot today.
Time: 3-4 hours
Things to Do: Williamsburg is one of the earliest colonial settlements you can visit. It’s a very charming area and they still celebrate their pre-revolutionary history there with lots of events and parades that are colonial-themed. You can still visit the Governor’s Palace and take several tours of the village. To do something different, you can go to Busch Gardens, a travel-themed amusement park. They have only 5 roller coasters but it’s still a lot of fun.
Also visit nearby Jamestown. Note that there are two Jamestown sites: one is the archaeological site, which has original artefacts but is quite bare; the other is a recreation of Jamestown with respect to colonists and Native Americans. I personally think the recreation site is more enjoyable and informative.
Nature & Beaches
Shenandoah National Park, VA
Time: 1-2 hours, depending on the destination
Things to Do: The Shenandoah is a popular destination for locals to escape to nature. Here you can see the Luray Caverns, a popular site. The area is very large so if you want to stay at a resort, rent a cabin, or go hiking, those options will all be available to you. My family traditionally stays in New Market when we go to the Shenandoah but there are plenty of towns and areas to choose from.
Ocean City, MD
Time: 3 hours
Things to Do: Some call it overrated but I love Ocean City. There’s a tonne of beach and boardwalk, and you can also go to several Jolly Roger Amusement Parks, which I find very fun. There’s a lot of great food and lots of shopping (if that’s something you’re into). The bordering town of Fenwick Island, DE is also a nice choice if you want some beach without as much rush.
Rehoboth Beach, DE
Time: 3 hours
Things to Do: Rehoboth Beach is a less popular alternative to Ocean City. It also has some nice beaches and Funland, a small amusement park. It’s a lot like Ocean City but on a smaller scale, and I have to admit that I do like Ocean City more. However, people go to Rehoboth Beach to escape the crowds as it does have fewer.
What’s your favourite day trip to take from DC?Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2019 in Destinations
Tags: delaware, district of columbia, maryland, north america, pennsylvania, united states, virginia