10 Iconic Outdoor Experiences

From mountain hiking and biking to boating and beachfront pursuits, enjoy the outdoors in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.

Sailing in St. Michaels, Maryland
Sailing aboard the Skipjack Rosie Parks in St. Michaels, Maryland
Bike and Roll tour of Washington, DC
Washington, DC's National Mall is a hub for active residents and visitors (Photo courtesy Bike & Roll)
Sailing through National Harbor, MD
Calm, convenient and inviting, the mighty Potomac River beckons kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddlers.
McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia
Hiking the Appalachian Trail in Virginia
Luray Caverns, Virginia
Luray Caverns, Virginia
Sailing in St. Michaels, Maryland
Bike and Roll tour of Washington, DC
Sailing through National Harbor, MD
McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia
Luray Caverns, Virginia

1. Cruise Chesapeake Bay

Book a cruise along the Chesapeake Bay to enjoy fishing, experience the culture and heritage of the region, or to simply enjoy the scenic beauty of Maryland’s famous estuary.

2. Cycle or Jog in Washington’s National Parks

The National Mall is a DC hub for active residents and visitors. In the early spring, the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin erupt in pink hues.

3. Paddle the Potomac

Calm, convenient and inviting, the mighty Potomac River beckons kayakers, canoers and stand-up paddlers. Any number of shops will get you kitted out properly and on the water in no time.

4. Trek by Moonlight at the National Arboretum

Though there’s plenty to appreciate in the Arboretum’s collections of plants and flowers during the day, a nighttime hike offers an entirely different perspective. Sign up early for guided full-moon hikes that occur on select nights throughout the year.

5. Glide at Wisp Resort

Tucked away in the western Maryland mountains lies a golf resort that becomes ski and snowboard heaven in the winter, with beginner and intermediate slopes and a terrain park for all skill levels.

6. Watch Wildlife at Virginia Beach

At the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, on a barrier island off Virginia’s Atlantic coast, you’ll find the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, established in 1938 and home to shore birds, marsh birds and wintering waterfowl. 

7. Tee Off

Three superb golf courses are among dozens in the Capital Region, including DC’s East Potomac Golf Course, the Virginia National Golf Club and the Lake Presidential Golf Club in Maryland.

8. Paddle Assateague State Park

Maryland’s only oceanfront park, the barrier island’s bay side offers canoers and kayakers a chance to see shorebirds, waterfowl, deer and wild horses up close.

9. Explore Luray Caverns

Go underground in Virginia for a look at the largest and most popular caverns in the region. Make your way through surprisingly expansive rooms — some with ceilings 10 stories high. Towering stone formations will leave you in awe, among them the musically wondrous Great Stalacpipe Organ. 

10. Backpack the Appalachian Trail

In total, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail stretches 2,180 miles, with 590 running through Virginia and Maryland. Though people of all abilities enjoy short walks and day hikes, more intrepid adventurers can take on long-distance backpacking journeys and camping trips.

Want more outdoor activities to experience on your Capital Region holiday? Visit our Outdoors & Nature page.

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Outdoors & Nature