There's so much going on in DC constantly, and I wouldn't trade living in the city for anything, but getting out is really important sometimes. I'm always on the go so I love taking a day to go somewhere new or an old favorite spot. I've been in this area for 6 years now, so I've got some favorites on this list. These day trips from DC will not disappoint!
1. Baltimore, MD (45 minute - 1 hour drive)
Where do I even start... I used to live in Baltimore and LOVE this city. I love the BMA (Baltimore Museum of Art) and the Visionary Art Museum. Fells Point has tons of good food, bars, and live music on weekends. I love Hampden for brunch, shopping at unique antique/eclectic stores, and Federal Hill has a great view of the city. Little Havana (in Federal Hill) has awesome mojitos, the Point (in Fells Point) is my favorite bar, and Woodberry has the best food in the city but is pricey (near Hampden). Federal Hill is young and has a lot of bars and walkable from both the Ravens and O's stadiums where as Fells Point has the historic brick streets. You can do some awesome shopping for antiques in Hampden and grab an awesome brunch at the Food Market. A post is in the works!
2. Fredericksburg, VA (1 hour - 2 hours)
Traffic can be really bad coming into DC so plan accordingly for your drive! Weekend are perfect for this day trip, but week day traffic or holidays could cause you delays. This happened to us while we were on our way back to DC. Fredericksburg is full of fun little shops, restaurants and interesting civil war history. Definitely an easy and fun place to visit! We stayed at this adorable AirBnB that was in a horse barn, which sounds crazy, but it was so adorable and cute.
3. Shenandoah Valley (1 1/2 - 2 hours)
While famous for it's leaves in fall, Shenandoah is really worth a visit any time of year with its awesome views and hikes along the Appalachian Trail, it does not disappoint. Luray Caverns are located here and there are some waterfalls perfect for a dip. Plus, its right near a lot of wineries and breweries makes it a great place to hike for a bit then relax with a drink!
4. Annapolis. MD (45 minutes - 1 hour)
Annapolis is a fun city that has a lot of awesome sea food! The harbor area is also very cute and unique. It's right on the Chesapeake Bay and has lots of spots to stop and enjoy the water. The cobblestone streets, great views, and delicious food make it a great way to spend the day!
5. Gunpowder Falls State Park, MD (1 1/2 hours)
I love this state park because it is so huge! There are so many different places in Gunpowder Falls to hike and one of my favorites is along the river and the waterfall there.
6. Rocks State Park, MD (1 1/2 hours)
I love the waterfall here. It's a little ways from the main park area, but easy to find and is clearly marked. You will see signs as soon as you get close to Rock State Park. It's a local favorite and usually very crowded. In the summer, you can jump off the rock and into the pool under the waterfall. It feels so nice to be in the cool water and enjoy a beautiful view. There's also hiking here along some trails with gorgeous cliffs!
7. Great Falls, MD (45 minutes)
Great Falls is super close to DC and worth the visit. I highly recommend the Maryland side because of the hiking available. Billy Goat Trail is the main hike here and is a challenging, but fun hike. You can do this one year round and enjoy an awesome view. I've done it in every season and loved it each time. There are three sections of the trail and I'vee done all three - I recommend doing the second part if you have limited time because it has better views in my opinion! There is a walking path all the way to the waterfall and takes a lot less time than hiking Billy Goat Trail if you are short on time.
8. Virginia Wine Country (1 - 2 hours)
This is awesome year round, but I love going in spring and fall because the weather is perfect for being outside. There are lots of wineries that have outdoor spaces and you can grab a glass or a bottle to share and just relax on a beautiful spot overlooking Shenandoah. Barrel Oak Winery has a really nice outdoor space that has tons of picnic tables overlooking the vineyards. Recommend it for sure!
9. Harper's Ferry, WV (2 hours)
I love Harper's Ferry. It's another great spot year round because you can do so many different things here! There's the historical center and history from the civil war, hiking (and gorgeous leaves in the fall), and in summer you can go tubing down the Potomac which is a blast! I've used River Riders every time I haveg gone. They are reasonably priced and do so many floats a day that it is easy to schedule with them. There are also little shops in historic downtown and spots to eat if you want to relax after your hike or walking through the historic center. It is a national park and the NPS offers shuttles from the park into downtown so parking is much easier if you go through the NPS.
10. Rehoboth Beach, DE (3 hours)
This is my favorite beach near DC for many reasons. The amusement park there is tons of fun, the beach is kept nice, and the fries + iconic ice cream are just awesome. The beach is not as crowded as Ocean City which means you can enjoy more space and not feel suffocated (which happens to me at the beach when crowded). I go to the beach to relax, not to listen and hang out with all the people I don't know trying to do the same thing! There's also a Flying Dog there with delicious food and special beers which is fun!
I may have to add to this list because as I am writing, I'm getting excited about all the things to do near DC! As this summer progresses, this list may change! Have you done anything near DC that you just loved? Let me know what you think below.