Washington D.C is a treat to visit; the city has museums, parks and several other monuments of great cultural and historical significance. If you happen to finish visiting most of these spots, do not fret. There are dozens of charming destinations that surround Washington D.C making for perfect day trips.
Right from picturesque national parks, to beaches and memorials, places around Washington D.C have much to offer to the keen tourist. Additionally, most of these day trips are only a few hours away from the bustling capital and are wonderful to explore. We’ve lined up a list of the top 10 day trips from Washington D.C guaranteed to liven up your vacation!
Distance: 35 minutes (17.4 miles)
Lying on the banks of the Potomac River, Mount Vernon holds great significance in American history. It was the plantation house George Washington, the first President of the United States. It is also incidentally the place of his burial.
The two-story mansion was built in the 18th century and is made of wood with thick, panelled boards, to create the appearance of cut and dressed stonework. Open to explore, the rooms have been restored as they were when occupied by Washington and his family. Additional Washington relics are in a separate museum building. Mount Vernon is best experienced by bicycle, there are several outlets where you could rent cycles from.
2Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Distance: 30 minutes (16.2 miles)
The Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park was established as a National Monument in 1961. It was essentially created to preserve the neglected remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. Back in the 1800s, the canal was responsible for transporting coal, wood, and various other agricultural products.
Today, the historical park is a beautiful place to go biking and hiking. The 184.5-mile towpath is littered with fire pits, water pumps and picnic areas. There are visitor centres around the park. Timings differ according to the season.
3Shenandoah National Park
Distance: 1h 22 min (70.5 miles)
A part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah National Park is a long, narrow park that is bordered by rolling hills. It is home to serene waterfalls and is a great place to spend a day having a picnic, hiking or going camping. The highlight of the park is the scenic Skyline Drive. This 105-mile-long road runs along the entire length of the park. There are two visitor centres along this route that have informational exhibits, public washrooms, and bookstores.
4Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
Distance: 1 h 2 min (55.4 miles)
Established in 1927, this military park comprises of the sites of four major Civil War battles: the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of the Wilderness, and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. If you’re interested in history, it’s an ideal place to visit. Admission to all sites is free of cost. You can visit four historic buildings: Chatham Manor, Salem Church, Ellwood Manor, and the house where Confederate General Stonewall Jackson died.
There are many special events held at the park throughout the year. These include lectures, artefact preservation workshops, and other programs.
Distance: 1 h 7 min (38.6 miles)
A little away from Washington D.C is the bustling city of Baltimore. There’s a ton of things to do here. The city is home to tourist favourites like the American Visionary Art Museum and the National Aquarium. Further, The Maryland Science Center is perfect for families and children to enjoy. The most significant historic site in the city is Fort McHenry which is most definitely worth a visit. A battle at this site inspired poet Francis Scott Key to pen the poem ‘Defence of Fort M’Henry’ which is the basis for the national anthem of the U.S.
Distance: 3 h 23 min (190 miles)
Atlantic City in New Jersey, USA is perhaps most known for its dazzling casinos and luxurious resorts. Beaches and boardwalks define the charismatic vibe of the city. While gambling is a prime attraction in the city, there’s also a host of other things for tourists to do. Further, the seaside city is perfect for bachelor(ette) parties, romantic getaways and day trips. It’s the best place to let your hair down. One of the most quirky tourist spots in Atlantic City is Lucy the Elephant. It is a six-storey novelty structure right on the beachside.
Distance: 4 h 3 min (245 miles)
Pittsburgh is a terrific place for a fun day out with your family. It serves as a modern contrast to the historical leanings of Washington D.C. The Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is a sight for sore eyes! The Andy Warhol Museum is another great tourist spot. Lying on the banks of the Ohio River, the city of Pittsburgh was even named one of the best places to visit by Harper’s Bazaar a few years ago.
8Antietam National Battlefield
Distance: 1h 32 min (70 miles)
Antietam National Battlefield is a National Park Service that was the site of a battle during the American Civil War in 1862. Located along Antietam Creek, the site is open year-round and has many museum exhibits, a theatre and a gift shop. Also, there are many areas of interest around the battlefield. These include the Antietam National Cemetery, the Pry House Field Hospital, and the Dunker Church.
Additionally, throughout the year, park rangers host interpretive talks, during the summer, expanded versions of these talks are available to visitors.
9Gunpowder Falls State Park
Distance: 1h 19 min (54.5 miles)
Gunpowder Falls State Park is one of the largest parks in Maryland covering nearly 18,000 acres. It is divided into six areas that include a wide range of terrains like tidal wetlands, rugged slopes, and open land. With 120 miles of multi-use trails, the park is great hiking and horseback riding. Also, the park has swimming beaches and attractions that include an archery range, the site of a former amusement park, and a full-service marina. During the summer, many campsites are available for visitors on a first-come-first-served basis.
10George Washington & Jefferson National Forest
Distance: 2h 1 min (106.4 miles)
A leisurely, pleasant drive from the city centre of DC leads to the evergreen George Washington & Jefferson National Forest. The area is best explored on foot or a mountain bike. Additionally, there are nearly 1,925 miles of trails to explore, so day visitors have many options to choose from! The forest features a section of the breathtaking Appalachian Mountains and is particularly beautiful during the autumn months. Also, if you’re looking for some hiking advice, the park rangers at the visitor’s centre are always happy to help.
Have we missed any day trips from Washington D.C? Tell us in the comments below!
Also Read: 12 Of The Best Day Trips From Paris