There are endless things to do for fun in Washington D.C., but it’s great to get away from it all every once in a while and embark on an adventurous day trip.
Here are six of the best day trips from Washington D.C. for a fun and adventurous getaway.
1. Explore Shenandoah National Park
Exploring Shenandoah National Park and all that it has to offer in just one day is impossible but it still makes for an amazing day trip. Just 75 miles from the hub of Washington, D.C., you’ll find one of the best treasures on the Eastern Shore’s wild side: Shenandoah National Park.
From fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and birdwatching there’s an activity for everyone. The true highlight is its network of more than 500 miles of hiking trails, including over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
The park is best known for Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that offers stunning views throughout. Skyline Drive runs through Shenandoah National Park, taking you through the Blue Ridge mountains.
You can stop at any one of the 75 overlooks along the route for breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley. You can enjoy wide views of the Piedmont Plateau to the east and Shenandoah Valley to the west, which can be easily seen at many of the overlooks.
If you are ready to hike, park in Meadow Spring Parking Lot right past mile marker 33, and then look for the Meadow Spring Trailhead just across Skyline Drive.
Dark Hollow Falls is another quick hike and easily doable as part of your Virginia Day Trip. The most popular hike in the park, Dark Hollow Falls (mile 50.7) is a 1.4-mile trail (round-trip) that has a 564-foot elevation gain.
The Little Stony Man trail is located centrally within Shenandoah National Park, near the Hiking Trails as well as Skyland Resort & Restaurant.
The Little Stony Man Trail is a park favorite not only because it is accessible for hikers of nearly any skill level, but because the Little Stony Man Trail gives visitors the opportunity to experience part of the Appalachian Trail, considered to be a major piece of Shenandoah National Park’s heart and soul. It is a short (1.6 miles round trip), moderately easy hike, that offers some of the best views in the National Park.
Rolling hills in the Northern Virginia Blue Ridge mountains are accessible from Shenandoah National Park, less than 2-hours outside Washington, DC.
Now, throw in some other fun adventures (hint: a winery and caves) and you have a recipe for the ultimate day hike. Shenandoah is home to several campground areas, should you want to commit more than a day trip from D.C., including Mathews Arm, Big Meadows, Lewis Mountain, and Loft Mountain.
2. Go White Water Rafting at Harpers Ferry
In a brief two or three hour visit to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, visitors can stroll over an old railroad bridge connecting West Virginia to Maryland or hike to Jefferson Rock for views.
Harpers Ferry offers activities for both the adventurous and less-intrepid, including the gorgeous Maryland Heights Trail that looks out over the town.
Both visitors and residents of the city are treated to recreation activities such as zip-line tours, whitewater rafting, and biking. Visitors can also enjoy museums, hiking trails, and truly dramatic views at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.
If you are spending a full day in Harpers Ferry, you can explore white water rafting and all of the outdoor adventures offered by the local adventure outfitters like River & Trail Outfitters and Harpers Ferry Adventure Center including:
- White water rafting
3. Pack a Picnic and Head to Sandy Point State Park for a Day of Relaxation
Looking for more of a relaxing day trip? Sandy Point State Park, the 786-acre park has long been a destination on summer days for DMV residents looking to beat the heat without crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
With its convenient location on the western side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis, Maryland is a favorite destination for D.C. residents in the summer months.
The park’s beaches and picnic areas are known for the breathtaking scenery and water views. The beaches and picnic areas at Sandy Point State Park provide spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which can be seen from nearly any location in the park.
Spend the day picnicking, laying in the sun, swimming at the beach, and taking in spectacular views of the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse.
4. Spend a Day in Baltimore
Going to the Baltimore Museum of Art is one of the best things to do in Baltimore. If you are looking for things to do in Baltimore that involve culture, head over to the Baltimore Museum of Art. Another fun activity in the area is visiting Maryland Zoo.
The Inner Harbor is a really great spot, with things like the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center. Inner Harbor is home to Baltimore’s best museums, such as Maryland Science Center and Port Discovery Children’s Museum.
Downtown Baltimore includes the historic ships that line the Harbor as well as the Maryland Science Center. Between Baltimore’s diverse neighborhoods, numerous museums, historical sites, and cultural activities, including the famous Symphony Orchestra, Baltimore offers visitors a lot to see and do.
Maryland’s largest and most vibrant city, Baltimore is full of exciting historical attractions, world-class museums, and spectacular cultural landmarks. If you are looking to visit Baltimore, there’s something fun for everyone.
5. Rock Climbing and Hiking in Cunningham Falls
Cunningham Falls State Park, Maryland can get your blood flowing by climbing up the steep ridgetop for sweeping views of the valley, and then rappel down to the beaches of nearby Cunningham Falls State Park to take in the refreshing waters of Hunting Creek Lake.
The short, rock-climbing path up the cascading, 78-foot waterfall in Cunningham Falls State Park makes the perfect hiking trip.
Surrounded by beautiful Catoctin Mountains, Cunningham Falls State Park is home to Maryland’s tallest cascading waterfall. Located just outside of Thurmont, MD, within the Catoctin Mountains, Cunningham Falls State Park includes a gorgeous waterfall with cascading heights of 78 feet, a 44-acre lake, campgrounds, a playground, picnic areas, and plenty of hiking trails.
Situated a little over an hour northwest of Washington, D.C. Cunningham Falls State Park draws folks for camping, hiking, swimming, fishing, boating, hunting, or just overall exploring.
There are seven main hiking trails in this park, which are open to hikers of all abilities. Hike one of the area’s numerous trails to get an impressive look out over three states—West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland—all at once.
For those looking to bask in sunshine or soak in the water, the Beach Area offers a great setting. Hunt Creek Lake is a popular spot for campers and day hikers during the summer months.
6. Surf, Swim, and Sun at Ocean City Beach
Ocean City Beach makes an ideal beach day trip from DC, and with an adjacent boardwalk, offers an array of adrenaline-filled activities. Because this is one of the further day trips on our list (about 2 hours and 45 minutes depending on traffic), if you are able to extend your day trip into an overnight trip, a weekend getaway to Ocean City Beach is even better.
Ocean City is full of restaurants, souvenir shops, arcades, a carousel, and more. This beach town is more of a sprawling beach city filled with some incredible restaurants, bars, and outdoor activities. With more than 10 miles of sand, Ocean City Beach is an ideal spot to surf, swim, sunbathe, and go beachcombing.
Ocean City has 10 miles of gorgeous beaches for travelers to swim, surf, fish, and kayak. It is a great place to rent a beach umbrella and chair and just watch the waves. The beach gets busy during the summer, so beachgoers need to arrive early to get a good sand location and also a good parking spot.
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