You look like you need a weekend getaway – and you’re in luck! One of the best parts of living around Washington DC is having unlimited access to a variety of landscapes. Urban jungles, mountain escapes, beachfront retreats, and historical gems are all within an arm’s reach. Whether you’re craving to reconnect with nature, drink award-winning wine, explore street art, or just relax, here are 8 of my favorite weekend getaways from Washington DC that you can road trip in no time!
Massanutten & Shenandoah Mountains, Virginia
Outdoor adventurers – this is your ideal getaway! There’s no shortage of nature-filled activities to be had in the Shenandoah Mountains! A year-round indoor waterpark, skiing slopes, Northern Lights Tubing, ziplines, and more await at Massanutten Resort. Visit an ethereal cavern to see unique rock formations, history, and even an underground wishing well at Luray Caverns. Fall brings glorious reds, yellows, and oranges to the 105-mile scenic route on Skyline Drive – but don’t forget to bring your hiking boots for foliage walks in Shenandoah National Park! And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail for award-winning, locally-made vino.
Hot Tip: If tiny houses make your ears perk up, check out Getaway House!
Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Although the Poconos is known for romance and heart-shaped bathtubs, it’s wonderful for any type of group to seek excitement and scenic views. During the cold months, visit Camelback Resort for winter-themed adventures such as Galactic snow tubing and skiing. During the summertime, feel the rush of the great Lehigh Gorge on a whitewater rafting adventure. Enjoy a picturesque vintage train ride along the Reading and Northern Railroad to view high-rising cliffs, natural scenery, and wildlife. The Poconos also boasts plenty of beaches and riverfronts to get some swimming in!
New York, New York
The lights! The skyscrapers! The shopping! New York City is ever-changing, bustling with creativity and a multitude of things to see – and it’s one of my favorite weekend getaways from DC. Beyond the twinkling splendor of Times Square and classic monuments like the Statue of Liberty, there are always new activities popping up around the city. Head to the Hudson Yards for the shopping trip of your wildest dreams, and finish off the visit with a rooftop cocktail 1,100 miles in the sky at The Edge observation deck. Step onto the creative scene at the iconic Museum of Modern Art, or snag the most Instagrammable photo ops at the playful installations of Color Factory. Feel the rush of the passing traffic and winds while strolling over the Manhattan Bridge. Or, go wild and see everything on a double-decker bus tour!
As the “City of Brotherly Love,” the historic and vibrant metropolis of Philadelphia is an amazing place visit. Great food, breathtaking sights, and an oddly familiar charm drew me to make this city my first solo trip! Explore over 80 markets and restaurants at Reading Terminal Market – from hearty soul food to sweet desserts. Journey down a rabbit hole of virtual reality immersion, audio visual experiences, and light installations in the name of art at Wonderspaces Philadelphia. And no Philadelphia visit would be complete without a tasty cheesesteak from Geno’s or Pat’s – nobody can decide whose is better, resulting in Philly’s oldest rivalry. Click here for my guide to Philadelphia weekend getaways from DC.
Only a 30-minute Amtrak train away from DC, Baltimore is well-known for the Inner Harbor neighborhood along the Patapsco River. Admire the adorable dolphins, get up close with carnivorous sharks, and even touch a jellyfish at the National Aquarium. Climb the winding staircase and be inspired by one of a kind art at the American Visionary Art Museum. Commissioned in 1855, the USS Constellation ship operated for over 100 years during the Civil War, assisting the Union and even capturing three slave ships and freeing over 700 Africans. Now, as the only surviving ship of the Civil War, it’s a floating museum and National Historical Landmark! Speaking of history, the beautiful Lord Baltimore Hotel has been standing since 1928.
In the heart of Richmond, eclectic culture seeps through the cobblestone streets. Craft beer, unspoiled natural beauty, and an urban street art scene await you on the perfect getaway. In 2012, Richmond brought a dozen national street artists to create an outdoor gallery along Richmond’s James River Power Plant Building, which you can view on a stroll down the Riverfront Canal Walk. Although you can’t walk on water, the T. Tyler Potterfield Memorial Bridge is a close second. It stretches over 1,700 feet long and sita only 20 feet above the James River. Among all the cool things to see in Richmond, the one thing you can’t miss is Rocks on the James at Belle Isle, a tiny island where sculpted boulders, rock formations, rapids, & forests make for an area of unspoiled natural beauty. It’s accessible by a pedestrian bridge off of Tredegar Street.
Coined as “the Steel City” for its more than 300 steel-related businesses, Pittsburgh is also known as the “City of Bridges” for its 446 bridges. But, there’s more to it than metal overpasses and business. Tons of history, art museums, charming districts, and a quirky foodie scene make it worth a weekend of urban exploration. Ride up the Duquesne Incline, a historic 19th century railway, and take in beautiful panoramic views of the city and its three rivers. Stop for unique contemporary art at the Mattress Factory, from global artists such as the famed (genius!) Yayoi Kusama. Cross the pedestrian path at the Fort Pitt Bridge for a stunning sunset, and explore Point State Park on the other side – preserving history of a fort built by British forces between 1759 and 1761 during the French and Indian War.
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Not even 90 minutes away, one of the great weekend getaways from Washington DC is the charming Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Dubbed “Almost Heaven,” this small town is full of historic sites. Check out John Brown’s Fort – the site of an 1859 abolitionist raid to overthrow slavery in the U.S. If you love the outdoors, you’ll be elated to know the Appalachian Mountain Trail is available for hiking. Other sports such as kayaking, rock climbing, and swimming are available as well.