Home » Ease on Down the Road: Getaways for End-of-Summer Travel
“Summer’s not over yet, and there’s still time to hit the road! Luckily, our mid-atlantic location puts us just a short drive from some great destinations. You can still hit the highway without hitting your wallet too hard or being stuck in endless traffic, even after the kids have started school again.”
From lakes to theme parks and more, here are some fun places for weekend getaways or day trips that are just one or two hours away from the DMV area, making it easy to squeeze in some fun getaways on weekends.
LAKE ANNA STATE PARK
This very popular state park near Spotsylvania has camping, boating, fishing, and more. With over 15 miles of trails, it’s great for hiking, biking and horseback riding; it also has a small swimming beach (with a lifeguard) and picnic areas. Visitors can trace the history of gold mining in the area and try their hand at gold panning!
The closest ski resort to Northern Virginia, Bryce makes good use of its facilities by offering “grass skiing,” which is just that: skiing on grass. Bryce is the only resort in North America with grass skiing and mountain boarding. The family-owned resort also features summer tubing, zip-lining, a championship golf course, a lake with a beach and boating, and miniature golf. Bryce Mountain Bike Park offers the only lift-accessed mountain biking in Virginia.
WINCHESTER AND FREDERICK COUNTY
Winchester is home to numerous Civil War battlefields and museums. Old Town Winchester is great for shopping and dining, and families will love the newly expanded Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum for kids. Also watch a movie at the nearby Family Drive-In Theatre and enjoy the nostalgic charm of Dinosaur Land, a 50-year-old roadside attraction that features more than 50 dinosaurs and other giant creatures.
Rich in history, Virginia’s state capital has great restaurants, clubs, and cultural resources. Its many art galleries and museums include the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts with more than 33,000 works of art, the Children’s Museum of Richmond (three locations), and the Science Museum of Virginia. Seeking thrills? Take in a NASCAR race or enjoy fast-paced rafting – the Richmond region is the only urban setting with Class IV rapids. And not too far away is Kings Dominion, a 400-acre theme park.
LURAY AND SHENANDOAH VALLEY
For picnics, hiking or just a nice drive, Shenandoah National Park is always a treat. Luray is also home to Luray Caverns, the biggest and best-known cavern (particularly for its stalactite organ), but other caverns have their own unique features. Admission to Shenandoah Caverns, for example, includes visits to American Celebration on Parade (parade floats from presidential inaugurals), the Yellow Barn (antique farm equipment and kids’ activities), and Main Street of Yesteryear (animated antique department store displays). Luray boasts many cabins and B&Bs, and the Massanutten Resort has a large indoor water park, petting farm, and other fun features.
ANNAPOLIS AND THE CHESAPEAKE BAY
No need for a four-hour drive to the beach! Much closer in is Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. This swimming beach has amazing views of the Chesapeake Bay and offers picnicking, fishing, crabbing, boating, and hiking. At the Maryland state capital, you also can tour a lighthouse or museum, watch a sailboat race, take a short cruise, or visit the U.S. Naval Academy.
History, art, science, sports, and entertainment make Baltimore a great destination. Along with many museums, the waterfront city is home to Fort McHenry National Monument (home of the “Star-Spangled Banner”), historic ships, the huge National Aquarium, and the great Maryland Science Center. Families also will enjoy Port Discovery Children’s Museum and the Maryland Zoo.
Experience 19th century life in this “living history village” situated where the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers meet. Enjoy tours, museums, and hiking and biking trails. Learn more about abolitionist John Brown and visit Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, where you can see a panoramic view of three states: West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland.
For true relaxation, head to Berkeley Springs, “the country’s first spa,” where you can soak in its famous warm mineral springs. After relaxing, enjoy golfing, hiking, and other outdoor fun along with summer festivals and theatre.
Although famous as the site of President Lincoln’s address, the Gettysburg Battlefield is a trip in itself. Don’t overlook the area’s museums, ghost tours, wineries, zoos, and outdoor adventures. You can also tour the UTZ snack factory in Hanover.
Famous for Amish countryside tours and covered bridges, Pennsylvania Dutch Country also has museums, science centers, wineries, pretzel factory tours, and more. Families with young kids will love Dutch Wonderland, a 48-acre amusement park with a new dinosaur area. And train enthusiasts of all ages will achieve nirvana at the Strasburg Rail Road, Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania, National Toy Train Museum, and the Red Caboose Motel, whose rooms are fashioned from actual train cars.
Plan plenty of time to enjoy Philly! Famous for Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, Philadelphia also boasts great parks, wildlife centers and a variety of museums, including the 10-acre Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and the Please Touch Museum for kids. For a truly different experience, tour the Eastern State Penitentiary, the world’s first true “penitentiary” (a prison designed to inspire penitence) that once housed Al Capone.