ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT LONG LAZY SUMMERS IS THE WEEKEND GETAWAY. PACK A BAG AND JUMP INTO THE CAR, SIT PATIENTLY IN THE AREA’S NOTORIOUS TRAFFIC AND EVENTUALLY GET TO SOME OF THE MOST EXCITING DESTINATIONS WITHIN DRIVING DISTANCE OF LOUDOUN COUNTY. FORGET THE LONG LINES AT AIRPORTS AND EXPENSIVE PLANE TICKETS, NORTHERN VIRGINIANS ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE CENTRALLY LOCATED TO CITY, BEACH AND MOUNTAIN EXCURSIONS.
Let’s start by heading north into the Pocono Mountain Region of Pennsylvania which is an approximate three and one half hour drive from Northern Virginia. This region is a recreation haven in the summer months. Whitewater rafting, swimming, fishing, golf and horseback riding are just a few of the outdoor activities for an active family to enjoy. The Poconos have grown in status and size over the years and the area now hosts a raceway, casino and year round resorts such as Camelback Lodge located in Tannersville. The 453-suite lodge is located at the base of Camelback Mountain and contains the largest indoor waterpark in the Northeast called Aquatopia which compliments the outdoor seasonal waterpark Camelbeach and recreation center. Float through the miles of lazy river, soar down the numerous waterslides, bungee jump, zip line and speed down the mountain coaster. The parks are perfect for kids and families of all ages. Mom can sneak away for a spa break and dad can relax while playing one of the numerous golf courses nearby. The Poconos are truly a year round destination as the mountains are perfect for skiing and snowboarding in the winter months and the remaining seasons are perfect for all outdoor activities.
Nature lovers will enjoy the abundance of parks and natural attractions. Hike the Raymondskill Falls in nearby Milford, canoe down the Delaware Water Gap National Park or climb the geological wonders of Boulder Field. Local wineries and distilleries are popular with visitors and new and trendy restaurants continue to arrive. There are numerous small theatres and playhouses for a bit of culture and a visit to the Pocono Raceway is a must for any adrenaline junkie. There are a variety of accommodations to be found ranging from quaint bed and breakfasts to family resorts and hotels.
“Northern Virginians are lucky enough to be centrally located
to city, beach and mountain excursions.”
If your drive takes you South, go no further than our State’s capitol. A straight drive down I-95 brings you to Richmond which is a thriving city of culture, shopping and outdoor experiences. Richmond is consistently named as one of the best cities to live in due in part to the diverse neighborhoods, business opportunities and arts and education programs. Richmond has a rich history which is commemorated in it’s many museums such as the Black History Museum and Cultural Center and The Holocaust Museum. The city has a definite artsy feel in thanks to the city’s universities and Museum of Fine Arts and even hosts an annual French Film Festival.
Richmond’s food scene is impressive with traditional southern fare and innovation fusion options offered to diners. Try Metzger for German, Can Can for traditional French or Mama J’s Kitchen for soul food. L’Oppossum, the city’s new talk of the town eatery was voted one of the best restaurants in America by Open Table. Each of Richmond’s distinct neighborhoods lists an impressive amount of dining options. Richmond’s beer culture goes back more than one hundred and fifty years. The city is achieving fame for it’s Beer Trail and is becoming a major craft beer destination with more than twenty craft breweries. For more information on all things beer please visit RichmondBeerTrail.com
There are numerous hotels to choose from during your visit but a stay at the Quirk Hotel is highly recommended. The small, art centric hotel has been voted one of the best boutique hotels in the country. For over a century the opulent Jefferson Hotel is another option that has continued to impress guests in the heart of downtown Richmond. The downtown area hosts numerous big chain options as well as small independently operated ones` for travellers of all budgets.
The James River is the vein of Richmond and provides visitors with attractions such as the Canal Walk and nearby Belle Island. The island is a nature retreat minutes from the city where people can bike, hike enjoy outdoor activities year round. Pony Pasture Rapids is great for swimming and canoeing and dogs are allowed on leashes.
Richmond truly is a historical city with a rich past but with their eyes on the future. The numerous universities within the city provide a young, educated and free spirit which is evident in city’s art scene, dining and shopping and cultural attractions.There is no time like the present to visit Richmond.
If you are looking for a seaside retreat but want to avoid the traffic heading out to the beaches of Maryland and Delaware try a stay in the Chesapeake Bay Region. Annapolis and the Eastern Shore towns of Kent Island and St. Michael’s are just a few of the charming gems within the Chesapeake Bay.
A visit to Annapolis is like stepping back in time. Once a colonial seaport the city is located on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and is considered America’s sailing capital. Stroll the cobbled stoned streets of downtown and admire the numerous 18th century building before stopping in one city’s famed pubs or eateries. Annapolis is Maryland’s state capital so a visit to the Maryland State House is sure to impress as it is the oldest state capital still in use. Tour the impressive grounds of the US Naval Academy and walk along the marina to watch the impressive fleets that dock there.
Annapolis offers a wide array of lodging choices from historic inns to modern luxury hotels. Seafood is a staple with the blue crabs caught fresh from the Chesapeake. Enjoy a legendary meal in one the centuries old dining establishments such as the Treaty of Paris Restaurant or Reynolds Tavern and 1747 Pub. Casual pub fare and ethnic eateries are located throughout the city as well as the numerous fudge and ice cream stores popular with families.
Driving past Annapolis and over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge brings you to Kent Island, which is actually located at the base of the bridge. There are several lodging options in the area from the luxurious Inn at The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club to the small quaint Bed and Breakfasts that dot the area. Eating in Kent Island is a pleasure and there is no shortage of fine and casual dining options offering everything from fresh seafood to Italian and Mexican options.
Nature lovers enjoy the location on the Bay. Visit Terrapin Nature Park or try your luck at fishing by chartering a boat with Chesapeake Bay Charter Services. To learn more about Kent Island and the Bay area visit the Chesapeake Exploration Center and the Chesapeake Heritage Center to read about Kent’s Island maritime past.
If you continue on your drive you will come to St Michaels, the beautiful town which considers itself “The Heart and Soul of The Chesapeake Bay”. Victorian homes and quaint boutiques line the historic district with it’s red brick sidewalks. The town retains the feel of a 19th century seaport. It is enjoyed year round with a multitude of festivals and events, museums and outdoor activities.
Accommodations range from luxurious to quaint on St. Michaels. Treat yourself to a couples stay at the famous Inn at Perry Cabin which is known for it’s beautiful bay views and fine dining or relax in the spa at the gorgeous St. Michaels Harbor Inn Marina and Spa. Restaurant choices range from the fun Awful Arthur’s Seafood to the quaint Bistro St. Michael.
The Mid-Atlantic is centrally located and offers it’s residents not just these fun and easy destinations but many more. In a quick click of the mouse your travel options are at your fingertips. Pack a bag and go!