Hello, my friends! This week’s post will explore some fun day trips from my current hometown–Washington, DC! If you’re ever in the area, or if you live here, you may want to check some of these out! I’ve listed one for each day of the week. We’ll start at the closest destination and work our way out.
1. Old Town Alexandria VA; 8 miles south of DC
This is my favorite city in all the world–and you know I’ve seen quite a lot of old towns of the world! I love it for the history, the adorable boutique shops, the waterfront, the Mount Vernon Trail, and so much more! Alexandria has some amazing historical museums showing you how people lived when this was a port city during British colonial days.
Be sure to check out Gadsby’s Tavern for a museum tour and lunch at the attached restaurant. If you’re there for dinner, try the duck; it was George Washington’s favorite! The Carlyle House, just across Market Square, is a site for French and Indian War, Revolutionary, and Civil War history. There used to be a hotel extending across the front lawn, but you’ll have to visit to find out why and where it is now! And don’t miss my personal favorite, the Apothecary, just a block from the Carlyle House. It’s an old pharmacy with an incredible story to tell! Yes, they have Dragon’s Blood in the attic, in case you ever need some.
And if you’re lucky enough to be there on a Saturday, you’re in for a real treat: the longest-running farmers’ market in the country operates here from 7am-noon every Saturday, even in the winter! You can pick up some handmade and local soaps, candles, produce, pastries, honey, meats, and even home decor! It’s been ongoing since the 1750s, and George Washington even sent things up from Mount Vernon to be sold here! Grab a coffee and a pastry and walk down to the Potomac River to sit on the docks and enjoy the beauty!
If you’re fortunate enough to be spending some of your evening here, make sure you show up for the best ghost tour in Northern Virginia, according to Northern Virginia Magazine! Alexandria Colonial Tours will give you the greatest ghost tour, then abandon you in a local graveyard! Some is truth, some is legend, but all of it is fun! Check out their schedule here: http://alexcolonialtours.com.
2. Annapolis, MD; 35 miles east of DC
This is another seaside Colonial-era town, as well as the capitol of Maryland! The US Naval Academy is there, as well as several museums about the maritime history of the area. They are also known for their Maryland crabs and Maryland crab soup, if you’re a real foodie! And along those same lines, check out the nearby Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers’ Market!
3. Fredericksburg, VA; 52 miles south of DC
Fredericksburg has so much to offer for the history lover! George Washington was born just outside of town at Ferry Farm, and his mother lived out her final years at a house in town that you can visit! There’s a Civil War battlefield to explore, house museums like Chatham Manor and Kenmore Plantation to learn about how people lived in the 18th century, and so much more. They have wonderful restaurants to round out your day, including a German restaurant called the Bavarian Chef that I love!
4. Front Royal, VA; 70 miles southwest of DC
Never heard of Front Royal, you’re not alone! But I took a trip out here maybe a year ago, and I was pleasantly surprised at the cute little town! Start at the Visitor Center in an old train depot and take your picture with their rail car out back. The notorious Civil War spy Belle Boyd lived here off and on during the War, and you can visit her house. She charmed the Union soldiers into giving her top secret information, and foiled more than one plot against the Confederacy! Also check out the Confederate Museum just down the street while you’re there.
5. Skyline Drive, 80 miles west of DC
This is a real treat when the leaves change in the fall. It’s a 105-mile stretch of road through the Shenandoah National Park in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can do it all in a day, but even if you just get through half, you’ve done a lot! There are plenty of lookout points and rest stops along the way, and if you don’t mind driving in the dark, catching the sunrise or sunset is a beautiful sight! $20 per vehicle for seven consecutive days; $10 bikes or walkers for seven consecutive days.
6. Winchester, VA; 80 miles west of DC
Winchester is another must-see Civil War site. The city was occupied by both sides of the conflict more times than any other city–72 times total, and 13 times in one day alone! There is a Civil War museum in the Old Courthouse, and you can take a tour of Stonewall Jackson’s Headquarters, Patsy Cline’s house, and see George Washington’s office from the French and Indian War, before he was our nation’s best-known founding father!
7. Old Rag Mountain, Sperryville, VA; 85 miles west of DC
This is for the outdoor adventurer! Old Rag is in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the hiking trail up to the top is a real workout! My husband and I celebrated our first “dating anniversary” here, and while we had a wonderful time taking in the amazing views, by the time we got done, we were pooped! It is definitely worth the trek!
If you live in the DC area, where is your favorite day trip?