You don’t have to fly to a tropical destination to have a great vacation! Instead, hop in your car and explore what the East Coast offers.
What are 5 Amazing Road Trips You can Make from Washington, DC?
There are tons of amazing road trips from Washington DC, including historic sites, family-friendly areas, and small-town attractions that will open your eyes to a new side of Central Virginia.
- Lake Anna
- Harpers Ferry
- Lancaster County
Richmond is the capital of Virginia, boasting numerous historical sites, cultural attractions, outdoor parks, bustling shops and restaurants, and friendly people that make this the perfect road trip from Washington DC! Trust us when we say there are many things to do in Richmond, VA.
For the rainy days, check out the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts or the Virginia State Capitol, both interesting attractions to head to solo, with your family, or with your loved one. On the sunny summer days, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is the ideal getaway from the busy hubbub of the city center.
Richmond is the ideal weekend getaway to dine at some high-class restaurants, learn more about the history of the DC area, and enjoy marveling at the intricate and architecturally eye-catching Federal-style mansions.
To really relax and enjoy your time here, head to one of the best dispensaries in Richmond, Virginia!
2. Lake Anna
Lake Anna is a freshwater reservoir in Virginia, located just over 70 miles south of Washington, DC. Since it is just under a 90-minute drive from the city center of DC, this is the perfect last-minute weekend trip! Who doesn’t love a spontaneous getaway?
After you get here, head to the Visitor Center to check out all the trails, green spaces, and things to look out for on your road trip. We recommend bringing your trailer, tent, or car camping equipment to stay over at Lake Anna State Park.
Nothing is better than waking up in the morning to the fresh breeze on your face and unzipping your tent to gaze at the unspoiled nature.
Plus, Lake Anna State Park is the perfect spot to test your hiking skills, bike on the windy trails, or relax with your family. And if you brought your camping equipment, you can head to the local Farmers Markets near Lake Anna to buy some fresh produce to cook for dinner that night!
Not only is Lake Anna a super family-friendly vacation spot, making it one of the best trips from Washington DC, but we love how remote and isolated this park can feel. If Washington DC is too overwhelming during a busy weekend in the city, head here for peace and quiet.
3. Harpers Ferry
Harpers Ferry is a town in West Virginia featuring the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, Civil War Museum, The Point, and the Appalachian Trail Visitor Center, which is a true outdoorsman’s paradise!
If you love hiking, biking, exploring, camping, and a slower side of life, Harpers Ferry is the perfect road trip from Washington DC for the next sunny weekend.
You won’t believe that this natural paradise is just an hour and a half away from the crowded city of DC — get your hiking shoes, pack your tent, and head off for the weekend!
On the edge of the Potomac River, Harpers Ferry truly captures the magic of times past. Reminiscent of an old Civil War town, but with all of the modern amenities you could need, this quaint town combines old-school charm with new-world sophistication. There are so many options for spending a weekend in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia!
We recommend checking out the museums and battlefields during colder or rainy days, whereas the Maryland Heights Loop trail and Loudon Heights trail are ideal for sunny days.
This area has numerous trails in the Blue Ridge Mountains trail system, gazing out at the Shenandoah National Park, neighboring states of Maryland and West Virginia, and the town below.
4. Lancaster County
Lancaster County is known for its Amish population, rolling fields, great food, and simple way of life. If you want to feel like you have stepped into another world, especially from the super-urban center of DC, then taking a road trip to Lancaster County is ideal.
Even though it has a slower side of life, there are still many things to do here! We love the family-friendly vibe in Lancaster, with tons of museums, cafes, train rides, parks, and outdoor attractions that make it suitable for children of all ages.
If you are heading here with your family, we recommend heading to Sight & Sound Theaters to check out an on-stage production during a rainy day. Or, you can hop on the Strasburg Rail Road to take in the sights and talk with the conductor.
During the summer, head to the Wildlife Center to zoom through the forest on zip lines and marvel at the natural beauty. You can even visit an authentic Amish farm to see how they live, learn how to gather eggs, and watch your kids feed the baby calves!
Baltimore is a busy capital city located on the Chesapeake Bay. If you are in the mood for a road trip from Washington DC to see another city, explore some new shopping opportunities, try different restaurants, and meet new people, Baltimore is the place to go.
Plus, you can get some of the best seafood on the East Coast — don’t forget to try the mouth-watering crabs!
We recommend checking out the Maryland Zoo or the Everyman Theater on cloudy days. For history buffs, walk to the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Center, famed for the birthplace of the ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ anthem we know all too well.
There are tons of restaurants, shops, bars, and pubs to head to hear during a romantic weekend getaway or a solo trip. You will have no problem finding tasty brunch places, like Miss Shirley’s Cafe, bars like W.C. HARLAN, or pubs, like The James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant, making your weekend fun and entertaining. Guinness, anyone?
[Also read 16 Outdoor Activities Every Washingtonian MUST Try]
We can’t forget these ideal day trips from Washington DC! Check out these two bonus mentions that are great for any time of the year.
6. Assateague Island
Assateague Island is a ‘barrier’ island that connects Ocean city to Chincoteague, bridging the gap between Maryland and Virginia by a thin strip of land.
Despite the island being just 37 miles, it can feel extensive if you decide to take a weekend here to explore on foot, escape the humdrum of the city, and unwind. We love the remote feel of his island, offering horseback riding, hiking, bird-watching, and camping in peace.
Philadelphia has been growing in popularity in recent years — as it should! With new outdoor restaurants, antique shops, vintage stores, green spaces and parks, and an influx of young people moving to the area, Phialdehpia has turned from a solely blue-collar urban space into a thriving city.
We recommend finding a hotel near the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Northern Liberties, Fishtown, or the Magic Garden. These areas have their own charm, but we love the walkability of these neighborhoods, the local restaurants, and the nearby shops.
Near the Art Museum, you can enjoy walking along the Avenue of the Arts, hopping from museum to museum (like the infamous Barnes Museum), and being close to the River Walk. In Northern Liberties, you will be surrounded by hipsters and young people who give it a youthful and fun vibe.
In Fishtown, there are tons of vintage stores, cool clothing shops, and brunch places for a weekend getaway. By the Magic Garden in South Philadelphia, you are within walking distance of the famous Italian market — ravioli for dinner, perhaps?
Plus, Philadelphia is just 2.5 hours from the beach — although this may seem far for a day trip, it is the perfect distance for a weekend getaway to Ocean City.
Take in some sun, put your toes in the sand, check out one of the amusement parks, and try the best ice cream in the state (we’re looking at you, Kohr Bros) before heading back to the City of Brotherly Love.
[Also read Heads Up: Why You Need to Get Your Hands On a Weed Stash Box]
Curious about your road trip? Check out some of these common questions when planning the best road trip from DC.
What city is 6 hours from DC?
Charlotte, NC, is 6 hours from DC, passing through North Carolina and Virginia on the way. You can stop at the local marijuana dispensaries in North Carolina due to the new marijuana legalization in N.C.!
This journey is definitely one of the best road trips from DC to see the countryside, coast, and cities in the East of the United States.
Where should I stop between Niagara Falls and Washington DC?
After taking the magnificent sights of Niagara Falls, consider stopping at Manassas National Battlefield Park, Harpers Ferry, Leesburg Premium Outlets, and The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, which is hands down one of the best road trips from DC if you have enough time!
Where should I stop between Chicago and Washington DC?
Some of the best detours when driving between Chicago and Washington DC include Gettysburg National Military Park and PNC Park. Once you get to DC, relax and unwind by finding weed delivery in DC to enjoy the beautiful weather, peaceful surroundings, and local parks.
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