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Escape the hustle and bustle of city life and embark on an unforgettable road trip from Washington, DC! With its proximity to a multitude of stunning destinations, the nation’s capital serves as the perfect starting point for a thrilling adventure. Whether you’re seeking breathtaking natural landscapes, charming small towns, or historical landmarks, this guide will take you on a journey through some of the best road trip destinations that are just a short drive away.

Discover the tranquility of Shenandoah National Park, where you can hike through lush forests and marvel at cascading waterfalls. Immerse yourself in the rich history of Colonial Williamsburg, where you can step back in time and experience life in the 18th century. Or indulge in the coastal beauty of the Chesapeake Bay, where charming waterfront towns and pristine beaches await. So fasten your seatbelt, roll down the windows, and get ready to explore the hidden gems that await you on your road trip adventure from DC!

Benefits of Road Trips

Road trips offer a unique sense of freedom and adventure that cannot be replicated by any other mode of travel. Unlike flying or taking a train, road trips allow you to set your own pace and explore at your leisure. You have the flexibility to stop whenever and wherever you please, whether it’s to stretch your legs and take in a breathtaking view or to sample the local cuisine at a charming roadside diner.

DC road trip with friends

Road trips also provide an opportunity to bond with your travel companions, as you navigate through unfamiliar territory and create lasting memories together. Additionally, road trips can be more cost-effective than other forms of travel, especially if you’re traveling with a group or have the flexibility to camp or stay in budget accommodations along the way.

Factors to Consider When Planning a Road Trip

Before hitting the open road, it’s important to take a few factors into consideration to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. First, determine the length of your road trip and the number of destinations you want to visit. This will help you estimate the amount of time you’ll need and the distance you’ll cover each day.

Next, consider the season and weather conditions. Some destinations may be more enjoyable during certain times of the year, while others may be crowded with tourists.

Roadtrip Planning

It’s also important to plan your route in advance, taking into account any scenic drives or detours you may want to take along the way. Lastly, make sure your vehicle is in good condition and properly equipped for the trip. Get a thorough check-up, pack an emergency kit, and familiarize yourself with any relevant road regulations or tolls.

Delaware Beaches: A Short Road Trip, a World Away

There are so many adventure road trips from D.C.! If you’re looking to hit the beach, one of the best options is to visit the Delaware beaches. These beaches are located on the southeastern coast of Delaware and are about 2.5 hours away from Washington D.C. by car. There are several beaches in this area, with the most famous being Rehoboth Beach, Dewey Beach, and Bethany Beach. Cape Henlopen State Park is also nearby and has some wonderful beach and biking options.

If you’re looking to just visit one of these beaches, you could easily do this trip in a day. If you would like to spend a bit more time in the area to explore some more quaint towns, it’s recommended to stay for a weekend.

Rehoboth Beach Delaware beaches
Rehoboth Beach DE image courtesy of Nicole Rosania from The Abroad Blog

As mentioned above, the easiest way to get here is by car, and you’ll definitely want a car once you’re here to explore the area!

Head to Rehoboth Beach first, the most touristy area, to see the famous boardwalk. If you’re hungry, be sure to visit Grotto’s Pizza and Thrasher’s French Fries. These fries are the best boardwalk fries you’ll ever have! Dolles’ Candyland is also a popular option if you want something sweet.

In terms of activities, this area is great for families! There’s a Funland amusement park right on the boardwalk and tons of mini-golf places nearby.

Traveling with a partner or friends? Head to Lewes! Located only 15 minutes away from Rehoboth Beach, the town of Lewes is “the first town in the first state”, and is full of charming boutiques, cafes, and museums.

Lastly, if you’re looking for a more adventurous activity, definitely rent bikes! There are tons of bike paths in the area that hug the coast.

Submitted by Nicole Rosania from The Abroad Blog

Maryland Road Trip Destinations

Annapolis, Maryland

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in history and maritime charm, make a stop in Annapolis, Maryland, during your road trip from DC. As the capital of Maryland and one of the oldest cities in the United States, Annapolis boasts a rich colonial heritage and a vibrant waterfront scene. Take a stroll along the cobblestone streets of the Historic District, where you’ll find beautifully preserved 18th-century homes, quaint shops, and delicious seafood restaurants. Visit the United States Naval Academy, where you can tour the campus and learn about the history of the Navy. And don’t forget to take a sailboat or yacht cruise on the Chesapeake Bay, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the coastline and maybe even catch a glimpse of the iconic Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Annapolis MD

Asseteague Island, MD

Less than a 3-hour drive from Washington DC and just 8 miles from Ocean City, Maryland, Assateague Island offers outdoor enthusiasts a chance to immerse themselves in nature. The island is perfect for a weekend camping trip to get away from it all, or you can spend a week exploring the island and the surrounding area.

Assateague is famous for the 2 herds of wild horses that live on the island and frequent the beaches and sand dunes. They make awesome photographs, but stay the mandatory 40 feet away–they do bite and kick!

Assateague MD Wild hourse
Assateague MD image courtesy of Denise from Chef Denise

At 37 miles long, Assateague Island provides ample opportunities for popular activities like swimming, hiking, biking, and 4-wheeling on the sand (with a permit). If you want a little more adventure, rent a canoe or kayak from Assateague Outfitters. If you have a line, shore fishing is possible with a license, or you can try catching some crabs for dinner.

A better bet is to venture off the island for some Maryland Blue Crabs in Ocean City. Try Waterman’s or Hooper’s for an all-you-can-eat crab feast, or Harborside for the best Crab Club Sandwich. Or you can always grab some grub on OC’s 3-mile boardwalk.

There are also many hotels in Ocean City if you don’t want to camp, or for a small-town experience, head to charming Berlin, where the movie Runaway Bride was filmed.  Stay at the historic Atlantic Hotel, and you just may sleep in Richard Gere’s old bed.

Submitted by Denise from Chef Denise

Cecil County MD/Upper Chesapeake

Cecil Couty MD is probably one of the lesser-known counties in the state but it is perfect for adventurous travelers from the DC metropolitan area. Located just off of I-95 and only 2 hours from the capital, Cecil County and the Upper Chesapeake Bay region offer tons of outdoor fun. If you are into boating and bay life, head to Chesapeake City or North East. Both of these cute historic towns offer watersports such as SUP and kayaking as well as awesome fishing and crabbing.

Biking enthusiasts have many options in Cecil County. Road and gravel riders will enjoy the 10-mile ride along the C and D canal from Chesapeake City to Delaware City DE. If mountain biking is your thing, head to Fair Hill Nature Reserve. You will find over 25 miles of mixed-use trails. And riders from all over the mid-Atlantic region rave about the trails.

If you are planning an extended stay or simply looking for more options on the Upper Chesapeake, there are a ton of insanely fun things to do.

Turkey Point, Northeast MD

Charles County, MD

Charles County MD, just 45 minutes from Washington DC is perfect for a mini-road trip or day trip from the nation’s Capitol. And one of the best adventures this rural county offers is kayaking among the Ghost shipwrecks of Mallows Bay.

Situated on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, the shallow waters of Mallows Bay contain the largest collection of wood and steel-hulled shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of only 14 sites in the country named a National Marine Sanctuary by the NOAA.

Mallows Bay is the final resting place of up to 200 shipwrecks. Their hulls peek out of the waters of the Potomac. The most visible of the vessels is the S.S. Accomac, a steel-hulled ferry used to transport cars and people across the Chesapeake Bay to Virginia before being replaced by the Bay-Bridge Tunnel.

Kayaking at Mallows Bay Park

Head to Mallows Bay Park (1440 Wilson Landing Road, Nanjemoy, Maryland). Here you will find a free kayak launch. From here it’s a quick paddle out the ‘shipwreck graveyard.” Plan your visit for low tide as this is when the wrecks are most visible.

And if hiking is more your style, you can easily observe these sunken relics from the shore. Mallows Bay Park offers several easy trails with several vantage points from which to observe the sunken vessels.

Ocean City, MD

Roughly 3 hours east of Washington, D.C. lies Ocean City, Maryland – NOT to be confused with Ocean City, New Jersey. A popular destination for families in the surrounding states, Ocean City offers something for everyone, ranging from surfing to family carnival rides. The best time to visit would be during the summer months from May to September as the cold water is a great place to jump into when the heat is too much. For a brief weekend getaway, the best things to do are to go to the beach, jet ski, or kayak in the ocean – you can rent some at Odyssea Watersports – and finish the days off by walking along the boardwalk and visiting the Ocean City Pier for the various family-friendly carnival rides. If you enjoy surfing and less crowded beaches, just a few minutes north of Ocean City lies Fenwick Island State Park which offers great surfing spots, lovely hiking trails, and other family-friendly activities like fishing!

Boardwalk, Ocean City MD

Ocean City is one of the best spots for seafood enthusiasts, ranging from Maryland’s famous Chesapeake Blue Crabs to Jumbo Shrimp. You cannot go to Ocean City without visiting the original Phillips Crab House restaurant and trying their Hoopers Island Crab Cakes, as it is a classic and probably the best crab cakes you will ever have! Other honorable mentions are Brass Balls Saloon on the Boardwalk, On The Bay Seafood, Fish Tales, and Layton’s Family Restaurant for a family-friendly atmosphere.

In terms of accommodations, there are plenty of hotels that offer ocean views but the best deals will be the hotels just a block or two away from the boardwalk. Brand name hotels like Hilton and Marriott group hotels are usually the highest-rated and very comfy, along with usually being next to the ocean. Other hotels like Castle in the Sand, Grand Hotel & Spa, and Dunes Manor are highly rated and have ocean views as well.”

Submitted by Blair from Expedition Introvert

Destination: New Jersey

Atlantic City, NJ

Atlantic City, NJ isn’t just for gambling and lazy days on the beach. This coastal resort town just over 3 hours from DC offers great beaches with beach bars, the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk which is perfect for a morning bike ride, tons of watersport activities, and great food and places to drink.

Ride a bike on the world’s longest boardwalk and the oldest in the US.  Rent a bike from AAAA Bike Shop and pedal from end to end. This 5-mile wood plank promenade has always been the centerpiece of Atlantic City and there’s no better way to see it than on a bicycle. And if you want to extend your ride, roll on into Ventnor. This will tack on three additional miles each way.

And Atlantic City offers a plethora of watersports including jet skiing on the ocean or bay, windsurfing on Lakes Bay, parasailing high above the beach, boardwalk, and much more

Atlantic City boardwalk

Wildlife enthusiasts and outdoorsy types should try stand-up paddleboarding or kayaking in the back channels. You’re certain to see some shorebirds and perhaps a hawk or even an eagle.

If you are inclined, you can catch your own dinner. Cast a line at one of the many fishing holes that dot the bay or head out on a fishing boat for the day. Crabbing is a favorite way to score a meal. Atlantic City and the surrounding area offer tons of spots for some great crabbing opportunities.

End your day of activity with a relaxing sunset cruise. Or if you want to keep the action going, ride the carnival rides on the famed Steel Pier.

Escape the Capital Hill for a Road Trip to the Big Apple – New York, NY

New York City is the perfect road trip destination from Washington DC. The drive is relaxing and just over four hours so easily manageable in one day. Of course, there are endless things to do and see in New York City. As one of the largest and most popular tourist cities in the world, this might not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to outdoor adventures. However, it might surprise you that there are actually a lot of fun adventure activities to choose from in the Big Apple.

If you enjoy water sports you absolutely need to go Stand-Up-Paddling on the Hudson River. There are a number of different companies that offer this, mostly in groups. You’ll get to see the incredible skyline of New York City from the water as you glide along the river. This is especially beautiful during sunset.

Central Park with New York City in background

Bouldering might be a better option for those not too keen on water activities. You can actually boulder outdoors in New York right in Central Park. Bouldering is very simple and all you need is some chalk for your hands and good shoes. Bouldering is best done in a group or at least with a partner who can watch out for you if you happen to fall.

Submitted by Victoria of Guide Your Travel

North Carolina’s Best Road Trips Destinations

Asheville, NC

Asheville is a hip and progressive mountain town in Western North Carolina. Commonly referred to as “the San Francisco of the South,” Asheville is known for its large number of breweries and George Vanderbilt’s Biltmore Estate. The downtown area and surrounding mountains leave visitors with plenty to do and see.

The top attraction is the historic Biltmore Estate. Guests can tour the mansion, enjoy the gardens, and explore the 8,000 acres with 22 miles of walking, hiking, and biking trails. Lodging is available on-site at The Inn on Biltmore Estate or Village Hotel. The Biltmore Village is another fun stop on the grounds.

One of the best highlights of Asheville is driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, commonly referred to as “America’s Favorite Drive.” The views are second to none and there are plenty of hiking trails. Some of the highlights along the parkway include Chimney Rock, NC Arboretum, Mount Pisgah (a mountain biking mecca), Fryingpan Mountain Lookout Tower, as well as Graveyard Fields Loop Trail, Skinny Dip Falls, Sliding Rock, and Moore Cove Falls.

Biltmore Estate
Asheville, VA image courtesy of Candice Steele of csginger.com 

There are a number of highly recommended restaurants with stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the surrounding area. Both the Dining Room, a contemporary American restaurant, and Vue 1913, a French American restaurant, have picturesque views and delicious food.

Other recommended downtown highlights are Chicken Alley, the River Arts District, Sunset Terrace, Asheville Emporium, and the Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours. The tour will take you through the city’s historic landmarks as well as some of Asheville’s popular rooftop bars.

All this and you are still just getting started with all that Asheville has to offer visitors.

Submitted by Candice Steele of csginger.com 

Outer Banks, NC

One of the best places to visit on a road trip from Washington D.C. is also one of the best beach destinations – the Outer Banks, North Carolina. With stunning sunrises, miles of beaches, historical locations, and adrenaline-pumping activities, there is something for every traveler!

If you enjoy nature, you can visit the wild horses of the Outer Banks or go bird spotting along Kitty Hawk Bay. Fans of history can visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial or Historic Corolla Park. Many of the attractions on the island are available year-round. If you want to get your heart racing, try jet-skiing, paragliding, or even hang-gliding with Kitty Hawk Kites! Of course, just relaxing on the miles of beach is the perfect way to take a break from the car. Sunrise on the East Coast will take your breath away.

Outer Banks North Carolina
Outer Banks, NC image courtesy of Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Indulge your sweet tooth with a fresh, homemade donut from Duck Donuts. There are a few locations across the islands.  For a great place to stay, check out First Colony Inn in Nags Head. The home-like atmosphere is within walking distance of the beach.

Located five hours from Washington DC, the Outer Banks is a great destination for a long weekend or week away!

Submitted by Pamela of The Directionally Challenged Traveler

Pennsylvania’s Top Road Trip Destinations From DC

Central, PA

Located roughly 4-hours from Washington DC, Central Pennsylvania makes a perfect escape for adventure travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. However, the sylvan forests and the rugged terrain of Pennsylvania make it a mountain biker’s paradise. And the region known as Happy Valley and State College is full of surprises to discover.

Not far from Penn State’s Main Campus in State College, you will find Rothrock State Forest. This state park offers some of the premier riding in Pennsylvania and hosts multiple MTB competitions throughout the year including the seven-day Trans-Sylvania Epic, the Wilderness 101 endurance race, and the Rothrock Trail Mix. But you don’t need to be a competitive rider to enjoy Rothrock.  With 431 miles of trails distributed across over 96K acres, every rider will find a trail that challenges their abilities.

Overlooking Raystown Lake from the Allegrippis trail system

South of Rothrock are the Allegrippis Trails, a system of mountain bike trails designed by MTB riders and built in conjunction with the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA)  and the Army Corp of Engineers at Raystown Lake Recreation Area. It consists of 24 multi-use trails covering 36 miles. The trails arranged as stacked loops offer sloping, moderate to rigorous inclines, stream crossings, and wildlife viewing areas.

In addition to the stacked trails, riders can perfect their skills at the Raystown Mountain Bike Skills Park which consists of 2 acres of berms, natural and fabricated features, and some small vertical drops. It’s a nice complement to the Allegrippis Trails.

After a day of MB adventure head back to campus and enjoy one of 120 ice cream and sherbert flavors at Penn State’s own creamery, Berkey Creamery. If you’d rather have a cocktail or beer, visit any one of the off-campus bars.

Laurel Highlands

Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands was born for adventure travelers. Located about 3-1/2 hours from DC,  this region is home to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania’s largest state forest, and the Great Allegheny Passage, as well as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Latrobe (known for Rolling Rock beer, Arnold Palmer, and Mister Rogers) and much more

The region offers premier whitewater rafting and kayaking adventures. Hook up with an outfitter in the tiny town of Ohiopyle for a thrilling whitewater adventure on the Yough River.

If you are an MTB rider, Seven Springs Mountain Resort’s wintertime ski slopes become downhill mountain biking courses once the snow has melted. If a trail ride is more your speed then consider a ride on a segment of the Great Allegheny Passage along the Youghiogheny River Trail from the tiny town of Ohiopyle to Connellsville. This 17-mile ride crosses a bowstrung truss bridge built upon the piers for the original structure that once carried trains from Cumberland MD to Connellsville PA.

Creek at Linn Runn State Forest with snow-covered banks and mountain laurel

Between Ohiopyle, Linn Runn State Forest, and Forbes State Forest, hikers will find miles and miles of trails that lead to waterfalls, natural waterslides, mountain vistas, and more. Furthermore, whatever your experience level there is a trail to suit.

Nature and award-winning architecture come together at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater. Take time to tour one of the best-preserved Wright-designed homes. This residence was built to be part of the landscape. After touring the interior, walk the trails surrounding the home. Late May or early June is the ideal time for this as the Mountain Laurel (Pennsylvania’s State flower) is in bloom.

No matter how you choose to adventure in the Laurel Highlands, an LH Pour Tour is an awesome way to reward yourself for your effort.

Roadtripping Virginia

Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville, Virginia is packed with a plethora of fun and exciting outdoor activities. At just over 2 hours driving distance from Washington DC, it is the perfect weekend getaway for an adventure road trip. Charlottesville and its surrounding area is a dream destination for hiking enthusiasts, with tons of gorgeous trails to roam and explore. And to make things even better, it has a thriving gastronomical scene. So after an epic day in nature, you can indulge in some culinary excellence!

Mountains outside Charlottesville Virginia

Spend your weekend days exploring the top nearby hikes. Some of the best trails in the area include the Three Ridges Summit Trail, located along the Appalachian Trail and with stunning views of the Shenandoah Valley, or check out Fortune’s Cove for a more mellow hike. And after all that adventuring, relax and grab some food and drinks at one of the dozens of local breweries. Local favorites include Potters Craft Cider and Devil’s Backbone where you can soak up great views alongside your meal.

Finally, be sure to check out the Downtown Mall for some retail therapy and local wares to take home. Charlottesville will not disappoint as one of the best weekend adventure road trip destinations from Washington DC for summer. You’ll be so glad you went.

Submitted by Sumeeta of Sumeeta Seeks

Luray, VA

Luray, Virginia is a natural beauty that stuns visitors with rural landscapes, rolling hills, and spectacular vistas. It’s also a crowd-pleasing destination in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley for its outdoor adventure activities, like hiking, paddling, horseback riding, and off-roading in ATVs. Even better, it’s an easy two-hour road trip from Washington, DC.

Shenandoah National Park’s Thornton Gap entrance is located in Luray, allowing easy access to Skyline Drive and more than 500 miles of hiking trails that crisscross the park, including 101 miles of the iconic Appalachian Trail. Hike to 67-foot-tall Rose River Falls, which cools with a refreshingly dreamy swimming hole, or hike to Hawksbill Summit, the park’s highest point, for far-reaching mountain views.

View from Hawksbill Summit, Lurray VA
Hawksbill Summit in Luray image courtesy of Erin Gifford of Go Hike Virginia

Book a guided horseback trail ride at Skyland Stables to see the Shenandoah Valley from a new perspective; as in, from atop a horse as you trot across an old apple orchard along leafy trails. The more adventurous traveler may want to sign up for rock climbing or rappelling in the national park with Shenandoah Mountain Guides. Paddling and tubing along the meandering Shenandoah River are also quite popular, as are ATV rides on bumpy trails with outfitters like Luray-based Appalachian Adventures.

Stay the weekend in a cozy cabin in Luray, also known as the Cabin Capital of Virginia. You’ll find more than 400 cabins for rent, like Shadow Mountain Escape, which has four elegant timber frame cabins, each with exposed beams and cozy fireplaces.

Submitted by Erin of Go Hike Virginia

Roanoke, VA

Active travelers can enjoy a huge range of outdoor activities in Roanoke Virginia and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains on a long weekend escape from Washington DC. Here you’ll find fantastic hiking, paddling, cycling, and some of the best mountain biking in the Eastern U.S.

Cascade Falls Roanoke Virginia
Cascade Falls in Roanoke VA image courtesy of Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA

Terrific hiking spots surround Roanoke, from the Blue Ridge Parkway and in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. Fit hikers can tackle the Appalachian Trail Triple Crown—McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragon’s Tooth—just 15 miles outside the city. For an easier all-ages adventure, hike the very scenic Cascade Falls loop trail which follows a pretty stream to a gorgeous waterfall. The region is also a designated IMBA Silver-Level Ride Center, one of only 16 in the world. Mountain bikers can tackle trails for every skill level at Mill Mountain, Carvins Cove, and Explore Park.

Stay downtown in the historic Hotel Roanoke for easy access to the hip, walkable downtown. After a day of adventure, stroll into town for a casual dinner at Alejandros and craft beer at Big Lick Brewing. Or spend a day exploring the city’s unique museums featuring everything from contemporary art to giant trains to pinball machines. Roanoke is a 4-hour drive from DC, and with so much to do, you’ll want to allow several days for your visit.

Submitted by Julie McCool of Fun in Fairfax VA

Williamsburg and Jamestown, VA

The perfect road trip from Washington DC is to take in some of the history-filled coastlines two hours south of the Capital. Take a trip to Williamsburg and Jamestown for a long weekend filled with immersive historical experiences.

In the 1700s, Williamsburg, together with Jamestown and Yorktown was the capital of the Virginia Colony At the center of the town is Colonial Williamsburg, a reconstructed living museum filled with homes and shops where visitors can stroll the streets passing actors in period costume, and discover what life would have been like for the residents three hundred years ago.

Colonial village at Jamestown VA
Jamestown VA image courtesy of Nichola West of Family Hotel Expert

Drive 40 minutes south of Williamsburg to discover more about America’s earliest days at Jamestown where European settlers first arrived. Start at the Jamestown Settlement where you can explore a reconstructed village and learn about the first settlers and the hardships they endured here. If you’re traveling with kids, this is ideal for a family holiday to the USA  with real gunshots being fired and ships to clamber aboard.

After getting your fill of costumed actors and early American History, you’ll be ready for a bit of adventure. The ziplines and Treetop Adventures at Go Ape Williamsburg are the perfect places to go, well, ape! The 600-foot zipline and 30+ obstacles, including a Tarzan Swing make for a fun adventure. If freefalling is your thing, they offer the 40-foot Monkey Drop with a 10-foot freefall experience. Kids and those who are not quite sure about aerial activities can try the Treetop Journey, a shorter obstacle course with lower platforms but all the fun of the Treetop Adventure. And if you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, try your hand, or should I say arm at ax throwing.

Submitted by Nichola of Globalmouse Travels

Great Falls National Park

Get ready to be wowed by the majestic beauty of Great Falls National Park located less than 30 minutes from Washington DC. This adventure lover’s paradise makes a perfect day trip from the metropolitan area.

Great Falls National Park is a magnificent 800-acre park that sits on both sides of the Potomac River. It offers stunning vistas of cascading waterfalls, making it one of the most popular natural attractions in the region. Visitors can enjoy a range of outdoor recreational activities, including hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and birdwatching.

Great Falls, Virginia

The park is divided by the Potomac River, and on the Virginia side, visitors can access three vantage points from which to view the falls. The first vantage point provides the closest view of the falls, and visitors can climb on large boulders to get an even better view. Overlook Two can be accessed by either stairs or a ramp and provides a wider view of the falls and the surrounding landscape. Finally, Overlook Three offers the best view of the falls and has two viewing platforms.

In addition to the falls, Great Falls Park offers 15 miles of nature trails that wind through the surrounding wilderness. The most popular trail is the 2.5-mile Patowmack Trail, which starts at the upper parking lot near the Visitor Center and follows the river, leading to all three overlooks and ruins. The trail is easy and mostly on a packed dirt surface, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels.

Great Falls Park is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with over 160 species of birds, including waterfowl, songbirds, woodpeckers, vultures, and kingfishers. Visitors are encouraged to bring their binoculars to spot these fascinating creatures.

After exploring the falls, enjoy lunch or dinner at The Old Brogue, an Irish pub in the nearby Great Falls Village Centre. But save room for hand-scooped ice cream at Great Falls Creamery. Enjoy it on their outdoor patio or while strolling around the quaint village shops.

Alternatively, you could head to Lake Anne in Reston and dine on the water at one of the restaurants. Explore the first modern, post-war planned community in the country, featuring mid-century modern design, nature, shopping, residential, and commercial space. For a break from the activity, relax at Lake Anne Coffee House and Wine Bar, serving a variety of drinks and brunch options.

Spend 5 unforgettable days road-tripping Northern Virginia with this amazing itinerary

Make it a West Virginia Weekend Road Trip

Harper’s Ferry, WV

The perfect adventure from Washington, D.C. is located only an hour away in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Found at the crossroads of Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, Harpers Ferry is also located where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers cross. Due to the short drive, this is a great option for a weekend getaway from D.C. And even better, Amtrak has a train station here, so it is easily accessible even without a car.

There are no chain hotels in Harpers Ferry, but there are numerous Bed and Breakfasts and inns in town, including Rockhaven B&B, a charming B&B with three unique suites to choose from. Some of the best places to eat are Hamilton’s Tavern 1840, The Rabbit Hole, and Battle Grounds Bakery and Coffee.

Harpers Ferry West VIrginia
Harpers Ferry WV image courtesy of Jordan Cierra Bradford from The Solo Life

Harpers Ferry is most popular for its National Historical Park and the fact that the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is located here. These attractions, combined with the proximity to two rivers, make it an ideal spot for many outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, tubing, and white-water rafting. For the best hike with a view, the Maryland Heights Overlook Trail is one of the most popular, if challenging hikes. For water activities, kayaking is the way to go. Harpers Ferry is the perfect weekend getaway for those seeking outdoor adventures only a short drive away from Washington, D.C.

Submitted by Jordan Cierra Bradford from The Solo Life

Road Trip Essentials and Packing Tips

When embarking on a road trip, it’s important to pack wisely to ensure a comfortable and stress-free journey. Here are some essentials to consider:

Roadtrip comfort

Remember to pack efficiently and keep your belongings organized to maximize space in your vehicle. It’s also a good idea to perform a pre-trip inspection of your vehicle, checking the tire pressure, oil level, and other essential components.

Road Trip Safety Tips

Safety should always be a top priority when embarking on a road trip. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Roadtrip safety

By following these safety tips and being prepared, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable road trip experience.

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22 Responses

  1. This is such great road trip inspo for when I can finally visit DC! I would love to drive out to see the Cascade Falls in Roanoke, they look gorgeous. Thanks for this helpful post!

  2. Really great collection of places to visit. I hope I can return to the states soon and explore some of them.

  3. Those were exciting toad trip accounts. Didn\’t know Pennsylvania had biking trails. Also found the tree top adventure exciting! Can\’t wait to see it!

    1. I\’m not sure people from other parts of the country know this either. And certainly, visitors from other places in the world don\’t know. I find that non-Americans think the US is NYC and LA. This is funny because I think they are the two most non-representative places in the US.

  4. We don\’t live in the area, so have really only spentna day here and there in DC and Ocean City. Thanks for these ideas for when we find ourselves back in MD!

  5. Considering the way the world is right now with covid it is best to stick closer to home. Who needs to travel overseas anyway when you have such fabulous road trips on your doorstep! Great selection in this post.

  6. Can\’t really argue with any of those recommendations. I think I would have put in the Blue Ridge Parkway as a destination its self.

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