Best Daytrips from Washington, DC

One of the great things about living in Washington, D.C., is that there are so many interesting places to visit within a 100-mile radius. The destinations vary in attractions and interests as well. There are seaside retreats, mountain getaways, ski resorts and historic towns tucked between valleys and rolling hills so there’ll always be something for everybody to enjoy. With only a few weekends left this summer, now is the time to get ready, pack your bags, and explore these unique cities and towns. Here are some of the best daytrips from Washington DC.

Best Washington DC Daytrips

Delaware Beaches (Dewey, Rehoboth, Lewes)

Best Washington DC Daytrips: Rehoboth Beach by Pafotofan
Rehoboth Beach by Pafotofan / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Washington, D.C., lies in close proximity to many of the eastern seaboard’s beach destinations but the best overall spots closest to Washington, D.C., are in Delaware. Dewey, Rehoboth, and Lewes are three of the beaches north of Rehoboth Bay and lie approximately 125 miles east of the District. These Delaware beaches offer golden sandy shores with plenty of excellent seaside eateries. If you decide to stay overnight, you’ll find that there are plenty of activities to do from exploring Rehoboth’s classic beach boardwalk to enjoying live musical performances at Bottle and Cork in Dewey.

Annapolis, Maryland

Best Washington DC Daytrips: Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis, Maryland by Jeff Weese / CC 2.0

The capital of Maryland is one of the most popular destinations for best Washington DC daytrips. Annapolis is located just 35 miles east of the nation’s capital and the drive generally just takes less than an hour if there’s no traffic. The temptation of eastern shore crabs, the Chesapeake Bay, and its historic center brings people here in throngs. Annapolis is also the sailing capital of the United States. It may just be a marketing ploy but visitors will be inclined to believe it when they see the dozens of schooners raising sails on Chesapeake Bay. For some of the best views of the bay, head over to the Annapolis City Dock or to Cantler’s Riverside Inn. The former has a scenic marina with plenty of shopping and eating establishments as well. The latter is one of the best, if not the best, seafood restaurants in the city. Also, while in Annapolis, take some time to visit the Maryland State House, the oldest continuously operated one in the country, and the United States Naval Academy.

Luray, Virginia

Best Washington DC Daytrips: Luray Caverns, Virginia
Luray Caverns by Ryan Somma / CC 2.0

The lure of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley is irresistible to many Washingtonians that’s why the cities and towns surrounding the region are common destinations for camping excursions and one of the best Washington DC daytrips. One of those cities is Luray. It’s located in Virginia’s Page County, just a little less than 100 miles west of the District. Arguably its most popular attraction is Luray Caverns, an underground cavern system with vast limestone stalactites, stalagmites, and columns formations. Tours are available daily, from 9 a.m. onwards to 6 or 7 p.m. depending on the season. The entrance fee of $26 for adults includes a guided tour of the caverns and a self-guided tour of the Car and Carriage Caravan and the Luray Valley Museum. If exploring the grounds underneath isn’t quite your cup of tea, you can hike Stony Man Mountain, one of the most popular trails at Shenandoah National Park. It’s a short and relatively easy hike that also cuts through parts of the Appalachian Trail. Once at the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the valley below.

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

Best Washington DC Daytrips: Gettysburg Cannons
Gettysburg Cannons © Traveling With Iris

American history buffs will definitely enjoy a visit to Gettysburg as it is one of the best Washington DC daytrips. This charming town in rural Pennsylvania was the sight of the bloodiest battle between Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War and was also the site where Abraham Lincoln delivered his infamous Gettysburg Address. It’s a mere 90-minute drive north of Washington, D.C. The main attraction here is Gettysburg National and Military Park, a 4000-acre farmland with rolling hills and open valleys where clashes were fought some two centuries prior. The park is free to visit, has extended hours in the summer up to 10 p.m., and has a number of ranger tours that are also free of charge. Visitors wanting to tour the battlefields can opt to do so on their own by following an auto tour. The 24-mile route will direct you to 16 different points that will tell you about the chronological history of the three-day battle. The whole trip can take anywhere from three to four hours. In addition to the park, Gettysburg also has an interesting historic town center filled with beautifully restored Civil War houses that serve as inns and boutique shops. The town center also has a number of restaurants like the newly opened Food 101 and local favorite Hunt’s Battlefield Fries and Café that’ll satisfy any food craving.

Do you have other suggestions for the best Washington DC daytrips? Let us know in the comments below!

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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One Response

  1. Avatar for Iris A


    I recently come back from doing a washington dc one day tour. But I have not explored these places which are mentioned in this thread. After seeing these images, I wish I could explore this region again and visit these places. I am sure I will go there soon.


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