Day Trips from Washington, DC

Pick your pleasure – eating crabs at the water’s edge, shopping in fashionable boutiques, touring historic battlegrounds. These fascinating cities and charming towns make terrific (and easy) day trips from DC.

Beach, Kent Island, Queen Anne's, Maryland
Enjoy relaxing on the beach and other water activities on Kent Island, Maryland
trolley, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Trolley tour through Fredericksburg, Virginia
Black Ankle Vineyards in Mount Airy, Maryland
National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg, Virginia
Tall Ships in Baltimore Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, Maryland
Beach, Kent Island, Queen Anne's, Maryland
trolley, Fredericksburg, Virginia
Tall Ships in Baltimore Inner Harbor

VIRGINIA

Middleburg

Nestled among scenic vineyards about an hour west of DC, the pastoral beauty of this northern Virginia town shines. Known as the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital,” Middleburg hosts a variety of equestrian events throughout the year, whilst the National Sporting Library & Museum showcases the heritage of traditional pursuits like steeplechasing, horsemanship, polo and more.

Photo Ops: Red Fox Inn’s stone facade, horse-filled pastures, Aldie Mill Historic Park

What the Locals Love: European-style eatery Market Salamander, Gold Cup Wine Bar, Middleburg Film Festival in October

Distance to DC: 45 miles, 72 km

Fredericksburg

Located on the Rappahannock River, this prominent colonial port town was the site of several significant Civil War battles. Today, it’s surrounded by historic battlefield parks, and the downtown is full of shops, cafes and museums. Stroll about on foot or take a trolley tour, offered daily.

Photo Ops: George Washington’s boyhood home Ferry Farm, cannons on the battlefield, murals along Caroline Street downtown

What the Locals Love: Carl’s Frozen Custard, stand-up paddleboarding on the Rappahannock, summer outdoor concert series

Distance to DC: 53 miles, 85 km

Occoquan

The Occoquan River lends its name to this town set on its banks, a community with a rich history dating back nearly 300 years. Homes from the 19th century and shops line the streets, with cobblestone alleys offering additional corners to explore. A waterfront district is filled with local shops, restaurants, a town boat dock and other businesses. Tap into the town’s spooky side during a walking tour with Haunted Occoquan.

Photo Ops: Wildlife from the observation platform at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, gazebo in Mamie Davis Park, footbridge spanning the river

What the Locals Love: Fresh-baked treats from Mom’s Apple Pie, semi-annual Occoquan Arts and Crafts shows, The Golden Goose’s year-round holiday décor 

Distance to DC: 23 miles, 37 km

MARYLAND

Baltimore

Reach Maryland’s largest and most cosmopolitan city in under an hour by Amtrak or MARC Train to discover a wealth of attractions. From the world-famous Inner Harbor to sporting venues and cultural institutions like the Baltimore Symphony and American Visionary Art Museum to annual events such as Artscape in July, Charm City buzzes with excitement.

Photo Ops: Waterfront views from the Fells Point neighbourhood, Graffiti Alley behind the Motor House, blooms at Sherwood Gardens

What the Locals Love: Modern Cook Shop’s hybrid restaurant/market/bar space, socially conscious boutique A People United, the Stoop Storytelling Series

Distance to DC: 39 miles, 62 km

Mount Airy

North of DC, Mount Airy is a former railroad town whose quaint Main Street is the perfect backdrop for a leisurely afternoon. Established in 1830, the town included a train station and saw growth as the B&O Railroad expanded over the next two decades. History buffs can learn about local lore at the Mount Airy Museum, or venture to Pine Grove Cemetery to view graves of Civil War soldiers. 

Photo Ops: Twin Arch Bridge, restored red caboose, fishing pond at Prospect Park

What the Locals Love: Main Street Farmers’ Market, Mount Airy Lions Club annual carnival, Black Ankle Vineyards

Distance to DC: 40 miles, 64 km

Kent Island

Make the 45-minute drive to visit Kent Island, the largest island in Chesapeake Bay and site of the first European settlement in what is now Maryland. The annual Kent Island Day in Stevensville celebrates its 1631 founding each May with a parade, exhibits and other activities. For modern-era fun, golf, watersports, art galleries and seafood-laden restaurants are all highlights.

Photo Ops: Westward-facing sunsets at Terrapin Beach Park, the post-and-plank-constructed Cray House, Cross Island Trail

What the Locals Love: Afternoon libations at Hemingway’s Restaurant, unique finds at Love Point Antiques, Maryland crab soup from Stevensville Crab Shack

Distance to DC: 48 miles, 77 km

Want more ideas for ways to spend your holiday here? Read this itinerary for the best of the Capital Region, or view our latest Holiday Guide.

Related: 
Scenic Drives
City Adventures