To escape from the busy life of the city, many visitors and locals alike opt to take one of the amazing day trips from Washington DC.
Luckily, the day trips from Washington DC are extremely varied, so there is something for everyone. Escape to a memory-laden historic center, a nature-filled national park, or a bustling city even bigger than the U.S. capital city.
If your Washington DC itinerary allows, get away for a day. You can check off some of your bucket list destinations in just one easy day from the city, so let’s go!
15 Of the Best Day Trips from Washington DC
The historic town of Middleburg, Virginia was originally started in 1787 by an American Revolutionary War lieutenant colonel.
Today, you can experience this little piece of history through the town’s 160 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including the historic Aldie Mill. Or you can explore the region’s many wineries, including Boxwood Estate Winery, Cana Vineyards and Winery of Middleburg, and Greenhill Winery & Vineyards.
To get to Middleburg from Washington DC, it takes about an hour by car. If you are planning to do a winery trip, you can get a car or limo service to take you and your friends so that everyone can enjoy the day worry free.
New York City, New York
Many people don’t realize that a day trip from Washington DC to New York City is very doable.
So why not hop from one of the United States’ major cities to another? Check out the Empire State Building, see the iconic Statue of Liberty, wander around Central Park, catch a matinee Broadway show, or even check out one of the many free things to do in New York City.
Oh! And don’t forget a pretzel and hot dog from one of the many street vendors .. maybe even a slice of pizza for the trip back.
To get to New York City from Washington DC, it takes 50 minutes by plane or 2 hours and 20 minutes by the Acela Train. Driving takes about four hours each way and is not recommended if you want to see the city in a day.
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
One of the most well-known day trips from Washington DC is to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
While you can explore Luray Caverns, hike part of the Appalachian Trail, and even do a bit of back-country camping, one of the most popular things to do in Shenandoah National Park is cruise along Skyline Drive.
This 105-mile drive takes about three hours and offers stunning views of the park’s landscape and wildlife. The best time to do this drive is in the fall. That is when it is most colorful.
To get to Shenandoah National Park from Washington DC, it takes about an hour and a half by car.
Leesburg, Virginia is the perfect day trip if you are hoping to visit a few wineries, learn about the wine-making process, and participate in a wine tasting.
A few of the most popular wineries in Leesburg are Casanel Vineyeards, Dry Mill Vineyards & Winery, and Stone Tower Winery.
To get to Leesburg from Washington DC, it takes about 45 minutes by car.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
When thinking about the possible day trips from Washington DC, many people automatically think of ones in the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia. However, you can go further without driving for more than a couple of hours. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is a great example of this.
Harpers Ferry is a historic town on the tip of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia (but it is officially located in West Virginia). While there, visit the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, tour the Antietam battlefield from the Civil War, or even do a bit of hiking.
To get to Harpers Ferry from Washington DC, it takes an hour and 15 minutes by car or by the Capitol Limited train.
Mount Vernon, Virginia
One of the most popular day trips from Washington DC is to President George Washington’s home of Mount Vernon.
While at Mount Vernon, you’ll have the opportunity to wander around George and Martha Washington’s mansion, slave quarters, and gardens. Through a 4-D entertainment experience, you’ll even be able to watch George Washington at one of his greatest moments: when he fought for the U.S.’ freedom from the British during the American Revolutionary War.
To get to Mount Vernon from Washington DC, it only takes half an hour by car.
Great Falls Park, Virginia
One of the more under-the-radar day trips from Washington DC is to Great Falls Park in Virginia. Although Great Falls Park is a national park, it is relatively small, so most people have no clue that it exists. It’s truly a shame, because Great Falls Park is incredible!
As the name of the park implies, a waterfall known as Great Falls is situated within the park. This waterfall is visible from three different viewpoints.
While at the park, visitors can also hike, climb, fish, boat, and more. In other words, if there’s an outdoor activity that you would like to do, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to do it at Great Falls Park.
To get to Great Falls Park from Washington DC, it takes just under half an hour by car.
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
If you’re looking for a relaxing day trip, consider heading to Chesapeake Beach in Maryland.
As part of the famous Chesapeake Bay, Chesapeake Beach has a waterfront view and many water-centric activities. Take a stroll on the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail, test out your kayaking or paddle boarding sills, or spend some time fishing.
To get to Chesapeake Beach from Washington DC, it takes 45 minutes by car or one hour and 45 minutes by train.
By far the most popular thing to do in Baltimore, Maryland is visit the National Aquarium.
Watch the beautiful sea creatures, learn about the underrated coral reefs, or even take a behind the scenes immersion tour. But if sea life isn’t quite up your alley, Baltimore is filled with other options.
You can also catch a baseball game at Oriole Park, explore the Fort McHenry National Monument, or embrace your inner art critic at the American Visionary Art Museum.
To get to Baltimore from Washington DC, it takes just under an hour by car or 40 minutes by the Northeast Regional train.
As the largest city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia is packed with things to do. Check out the exciting animals at the Philadelphia Zoo, wander the cathartic Philadelphia Museum of Art, visit the historic National Constitution Center, or pop by the unique Please Touch Museum.
With some advance planning, book a reservation at Zahav Restaurant, the food is quite literally some of the best in the world.
No matter what your interests are, Philadelphia has something perfect for you to do.
To get to Philadelphia from Washington DC, it takes two and a half hours by car, 40 minutes by plane or two hours on the Northeast Regional train.
Hershey, Pennsylvania is one of the most kid-friendly day trips from Washington DC.
Almost everything to do in Hershey centers around Hershey chocolate from Hersheypark to Hershey’s Chocolate World Attraction to the Hershey Story Museum. And you’ll certainly be able to eat your fair share of Hershey’s chocolate as well.
But if you need a little break from all of that chocolate, you can also explore the Indian Echo Caverns or visit the AACA Museum.
To get to Hershey from Washington DC, it takes just under two and a half hours by car.
Richmond, the capital city of Virginia, is a great place for a day trip, because there is something for everyone.
Get your dose of history at the American Civil War Museum, enjoy the fresh air at Lewis Ginger Botanical Garden, or test your science skills at the Science Museum of Virginia.
To get to Richmond from Washington DC, it takes one hour and 45 minutes by car or two hours by train.
While the city of Annapolis is the capital of Maryland, it is often overlooked by other cities and towns in the state, like Baltimore and Chesapeake Bay. However, Annapolis has quite a bit to offer its visitors.
If you’re interested in history and architecture, take a stroll around the Annapolis historic district. If you prefer the outdoors and nature, head to Quiet Waters Park. Or if politics is more interesting to you, spend some time at the Maryland State House.
One thing that should not be missed is sailing. This is a great place to sail on the Chesapeake Bay or eat blue crabs!
To get from Annapolis from Washington DC, it takes about 40 minutes by car and just under an hour by train.
The historic city of Gettysburg draws in thousands of visitors every single year.
Home to the brutal Battles of Gettysburg during the Civil War, visitors to this town can experience a glimpse of the past.
The Living History Programs at Gettysburg allow visitors to explore the camps of both the Union and the Confederacy, hear the loud roar of artillery, and watch historic weapons demonstrations.
For a second, you may feel transported all the way back to 1863.
To get to Gettysburg from Washington DC, it takes an hour and a half by car.
National Harbor, Maryland
Situated along the Potomac River is an up-and-coming area known as National Harbor.
There are so many cool restaurants, events, and activities happening at National Harbor.
Visitors can ride the Capital Wheel, rent a kayak and paddle along the river, and admire “The Awakening” statue. Be sure to check if your favorite musical artists, athletic competitions, or food festivals are in the area, because there’s always something happening at National Harbor.
To get to National Harbor from Washington DC, it only takes about 20 minutes by car, 12 minutes (with no traffic) by water taxi from Alexandria, and there is a boat leaving The Wharf in DC that takes 35 minutes.
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