If wanderlust is starting to take hold put away your passports because you won’t need airfare to travel to these places. You probably won’t even need a hotel, but we’ll leave that up to you. Pick any weekend and try one of these easy Washington DC weekend getaways!
1. Mount Vernon/Old Town Alexandria
We’re completely acknowledging the fact that if you’re reading this there’s a reasonably high probability you might live in Alexandria. Even so, have you considered a staycation?
Where to stay: Kimpton’s Morrison House consistently ranks among the best hotels in the world. If you like declaring “FIRST!” you could make advance reservations at the brand spanking new Hotel Indigo. Doors will open this Spring. If you’re seeking something more authentic consider the 216 Bed and Breakfast.
What to do: Visit the Mount Vernon Plantation, the home of history’s most famous colonial-era tobacco planter, George Washington. While at the plantation make sure to stop in at Washington’s working distillery and have a taste of Presidential whiskey (open April 1 through October 31). Keep the history going by heading North to Old Town Alexandria. Check out Gadsby’s Tavern Museum to learn how the Founding Fathers relaxed. Afterward, learn about colonial medicine at the nearby Stabler-Leadbetter Apothecary.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: Hit Fontaine Caffe and Creperie for a Just Peachy crepe (brandied peaches, yum!) or Chadwick’s for a Chesapeake Benedict or french toast and fried chicken.
- Lunch: Try a cheese board or a ‘Tique Cheesesteak at Cheesetique. If you want classic Old Town Alexandria look for The Majestic’s old school neon sign stop in at The Majestic and grab the daily sandwich special. Don’t forget to check out the cocktail menu.
- Dinner: It’s difficult to find a bad dinner in Old Town unless you’re intentionally seeking it out. UpOut favorites include Vaso’s Mediterranean, Brabo Tasting Room, and Nasime Japanese.
- Dessert: So. Many. Options. You’ll want pie (or sorbet) at Killer ESP, cupcakes by Lavender Moon Cupcakery, and gelato at Casa Rosada.
2. Baltimore, Maryland – Distance from DC: 45 miles, Between 55 mins and 1 hour, 30 mins.
Baltimore is filled with so much to do we could probably write a “7 Weekend Getaways in Baltimore” article. In fact, we might, but consider this a beginner’s guide to Charm City.
Where to stay: If you want to stay inside a piece of Baltimore history then get a room at the Hotel Brexton. Make sure you check out the spiral staircase. Scarborough Fair Bed and Breakfast has a handful of author themed rooms. If you can manage a reservation stay in the Brothers Grimm Room or Edgar Allen Poe Suite.
What to do: It would be easier to write what not to do. The American Visionary Art Museum is a must as it features a collection unlike any other contemporary museum in the country. If you’re into trains you’ll need to check out the B&O Railroad Museum. Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip to Baltimore without a stop at Geppi’s Entertainment Museum (if you’re visiting around Mardi Gras bring your horror makeup and join Zombie Gras). You could go see the Orioles, but if you want real action and intensity take in a Charm City Roller Girls bout. Take in an intimate show (and buy some books) at Cyclops. Check out some of the best graffiti in the city in Graffiti Alley.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: Baltimore is a city that knows how to brunch. If you’re willing to wait for a solid brunch experience head straight to Water for Chocolate. If you’re not in a waiting mood hit up one of Miss Shirley‘s two locations or pop into Piedigrotta Bakery.
- Lunch: Thames Street Oyster Spot has the best lobster mac in Baltimore and the crab cake is the biggest around. And, of course, an amazing oyster selection. You won’t need dinner if you eat lunch here. The worst thing about going to The Local Fry is figuring out which dish to eat. The Kimchi or Bahn Mi fries are highly recommended for something different, but you can’t go wrong with the Buffalo Chicken Fries. If you’re looking for an impressive ramen bowl head to Kippo Ramen in Fells Point for a Spicy Shoyu Ramen Bowl with Pork.
- Dinner: Planning ahead by getting reservations at Woodberry Kitchen is worth it. Order the crab pot or the rabbit. For a lighter, affordable dinner and astoundingly unique drinks head to Clavel Mezcaleria. This is essentially a taco joint with a focus on the homemade tortillas. Order the barbacoa de Borrego and huitlacoche tacos de la Tierra. For cocktails try the Michelada and Vida Nocturna.
- Dessert: No room for argument – Dangerously Delicious Pie. Yes, there’s one in DC but this is where it all started. Or head over to Hampden and try the savory pies at Puffs & Pastries.
3. Annapolis, Maryland – Distance from DC: 35 miles, 1-hour
Sure there are other state houses that can compete in beauty with the Maryland State House, but few state capital cities as a whole can compare to Annapolis.
Where to stay: If you want an authentic Annapolis experience try one of the Historic Inns of Annapolis.
What to do: History! You can’t walk a single cobblestone in Annapolis without stepping on something historical. The Maryland State House once served as the nation’s capital and has been in continuous use longer than any other state house. Visit the U.S. Naval Academy where you can see the most detailed model ship ever built and the extravagant sarcophagus of the father of the U.S. Navy John Paul Jones. Check out the Banneker-Douglass Museum and explore African-American history.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: File Miss Shirley’s Cafe under both breakfast and lunch. Try the Bloody Mary Deviled Eggs and the Coconut Cream Stuffed French Toast. If you need coffee head over to Bean Rush Cafe for what might be the only proper Aussie Flat White in the United States.
- Lunch: Situated directly across from the State House, Harry Browne‘s is a favorite lunch destination for hobnobbing legislatures. In addition to a solid menu, it’s a great place to eavesdrop on state matters. If you’re in the mood for sushi you’ll want to hit Joss Cafe and Sushi Bar which is arguably the best sushi east of the District.
- Dinner: If you have extra dough and you’re looking for a rustic romantic dinner then go straight to the Treaty of Paris. If you’ve struggled to find a reason to eat eggplant than we’d recommend a stop at Lemongrass.
- Dessert: Head to Sweet Hearts Patisserie for a selection of delectable cake squares including vanilla raspberry and tiramisu.
4. Frederick, Maryland – Distance from DC: 50 miles, 1-hour
Frederick is a popular location due to the high concentration of quality breweries and distilleries. Of course, being within spitting distance of Gettysburg (35 miles) it’s also steeped in Civil War history.
Where to stay: If you can spare some extra greenbacks and want a taste of 19th-century elegance try Antrim 1844 County House Hotel. This hotel is 20-miles outside of Frederick but totally worth it if you want to feel like a Bennet sister courting a suitor.
What to do: The Frederick region has a thriving brewing and distilling culture. In a well-planned out day, a traveler could take in Dragon Distillery, McClintock Distilling, Tenth Ward Distilling, Olde Mother Brewing, Flying Dog Brewery, and Monocacy Brewing Company. DD encouraged. Frederick is one of two cities in Maryland to win the Historic Main Street Award. Downtown you’ll find the National Museum of Civil War Medicine where you can learn how the Civil War revolutionized battlefield medicine. The city is also home to the Roads and Rails Museum which is an entertaining exploration of miniature railroads.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: Fuel the start of your day with the Smoked Hash from Cafe Nola or the Huevos con Chorizo at Cafe Bueno.
- Lunch: Analia’s Cafe is worth the drive to Frederick all by itself. This is by far some of the best Greek food in Maryland. The moussaka is a must eat. If you’re spending two lunches in Frederick be sure to try AKA Friscos for giant inspirational sandwiches themed after San Francisco.
- Dinner: On the higher end try The Tasting Room‘s lamb bolognese or the wild rice and mushroom risotto. If you want something lower priced you can’t go wrong with Thai at Sumittra.
- Dessert: Frederick Fudge and Ice Cream is a classic fudge and ice cream shop. They serve 24 flavors of soft serve ice cream blended on the spot.
5. Fredericksburg, Virginia – Distance from DC: 55 miles, 1-hour 5 mins
Fredricksburg is similar to Fredrick in both name and things to do. However, the ‘burg has the added benefit of wineries.
Where to stay: Fredericksburg has several adorable inns and bed and breakfasts. If you’re feeling romantic try to get a room at the Lavender Heights Bed and Breakfast. Or if you want affordable but quaint the Inn at the Olde Silk Mill checks both boxes.
What to do: There are more than a dozen breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the region. Fredricksburg is the epicenter of the so-called Grapes and Grains Trail. If history is more your bag, Fredericksburg has that in truckloads. You can visit George Washington’s boyhood home, experience life inside a colonial era tap room at the Rising Sun Tavern, or explore the Civil War at the Fredericksburg National Military Park. The city also claims to be the country’s “most haunted city” with numerous ghost tours.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: Head over to Duck Donuts for a customizable donut experience. They have a form on their website you can fill out in advance to make ordering easier. If you need something a bit more filling try the brunch menu at Mercantile.
- Lunch: If you ask the locals where to eat lunch they’ll most likely send you to Mason-Dixon Cafe and for good reason. Try the poutine or the shrimp and grits. Worth mentioning, Limerick‘s has a killer Reuben.
- Dinner: For a traditional Italian experience you can’t go wrong with Orofino. For a new American cuisine experience check-out Kybecca.
- Dessert: Time for dessert crepes! Stop by Renee’s Crepes and Cakes for a Midnight Sun crepe or Apple Pecan Pie crepe. As the name suggests, you can also order some delicious cake.
6. Harpers Ferry – Distance from DC: 65 miles, 1-hour 20 minutes
Harpers Ferry, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, is also the confluence of history, outdoor sports, and natural beauty.
Where to stay:
What to do:
For the best Harpers Ferry experience, you’ll want to plan two days. One day for history and the other for hiking, water sports, or simply relaxing in nature. Harpers Ferry is where John Brown attempted to raid an armory so he could start a slave revolution. He failed, but two years later saw the start of the Civil War. During the war Harpers Ferry was such a strategic location it changed hands eight times. After digging through the well-preserved history you’ll want to consider hiking the Appalachian Trail which goes straight through the center of town. Or take to the rivers and go kayaking or white water rafting.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: Fuel up for your Blue Ridge Mountain explorations at Country Cafe and General Store.
- Lunch: The Cannonball Deli for the lamb gyro or Potomac Grill for the fish n chips. If available you can’t go wrong with the Rolling Smoke BBQ food truck.
- Dinner: Try to get a seat on the back patio of Bistro 1840. The deviled eggs and mac and cheese are must haves. The classic Harpers Ferry restaurant is The Anvil which will provide either your surf or turf craving.
- Dessert: After a long day in the sun grab a scoop at Scoops.
7. Lewes, Delaware – Distance from DC: 121 miles, 2-hour 40 min drive
When you’re looking for a quieter Delaware beach experience Lewes is the place to visit. It can act as a solid home base for exploring what the region has to offer, especially if you’re interested in breweries and distilleries. Accommodations are limited, so if staying overnight is in the plans be sure to plan this trip a few weeks out.
Where to stay:
What to do:
As Delaware’s first city, founded in 1631, there’s a lot of history in and around Lewes. Check out the old cemetery outside St. Peter’s Church with stones dating back to 1707. If this is a summer visit be sure to snag a tour of Breakwater Lighthouse. Lewes provides easy access to the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton and the Dogfish Head restaurant/distillery in Rehoboth Beach. While at Rehoboth you can also grab tastings at Delaware Distilling Company, Revelation Craft Brewing Company, and Big Oyster Brewery. If rum is your spirit then Beach Time Distilling in Lewes is waiting for you.
Where to eat:
- Breakfast: Grab an Old Bay bagel at Surf Bagel (be prepared to wait in line during the peak season). If you have time to sit down than take a seat at the cozy up with a Bloody Mary at Nectar Cafe and Juice Bar.
- Lunch: You probably won’t get better barbecue in Delaware than what you’ll find at Hazard’s Savannah’s Deli & Grille. The Boss Hog, packed with bacon, smoked ham, and pulled pork, reminds us why the pig is such a wonderful, magical animal.
- Dinner: If you’re making this a Dogfish adventure you’ll want to book reservations at Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione’s seafood restaurant Chesapeake and Maine.
- Dessert: Grab a banana split at King’s Homemade Ice Cream Shop
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