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4 Day Trip Ideas Close to Washington, DC

Updated on February 9, 2014

Looking to take a day trip from Washington, DC? Well you're in luck because our nation's capitol has quite a few fabulous option within two hour drives (or train, in most cases if that's what you prefer). There are destinations such as Mount Vernon, Harper's Ferry, Annapolis and Fredericksburg, Virginia - all of which are described in this article. The best part is that they cater to both avid day-trippers and the history buff in you.

Photos from Mount Vernon

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Mount Vernon, the house of George Washington, viewed from the front lawn
Mount Vernon, the house of George Washington, viewed from the front lawn
Mount Vernon, the house of George Washington, viewed from the front lawn | Source

Mount Vernon: George Washington's Home

When in DC, you can't miss a trip to one of America's first heroes' home.

George Washington's plantation home is located on the banks of the Potomac River, not far from Washington, DC. The estate also includes interactive exhibits, a farm, a distillery and the tomb of George and Martha Washington. There's also a food court for when you get hungry.

Admission is $15 for everyone over 12 years of age and it's open seven days a week, from 9am to 5pm (Nov - Feb until 4pm).

There are three major ways to get to Mount Vernon. You can:

  1. take a boat from Southwest, DC or Alexandria Virginia.
  2. take the metro by getting on the yellow line and getting off at the Huntington station (last stop in Virginia). From there, you will need to get on the Fairfax Connector Bus #101 and stay on for about 20 minutes, which will drop you off right at the entrance gate. Or you can take a cab from the Huntington station to Mt Vernon, which will set you back about $25.
  3. get behind the wheel and drive.

Harpers Ferry, as seen from Maryland Heights, Maryland
Harpers Ferry, as seen from Maryland Heights, Maryland | Source

Which DC daytrip destination do you prefer most?

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Harper's Ferry

Harper's Ferry, located in West Virginia, is just 90 minutes away from Washington, DC and offers something for everyone. Regardless of whether you're looking for a historic site, a river adventure, or hiking - Harper's Ferry's got it!

The small historic town is located where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet. Hence the reference to history hounds and people looking for adventure. I first came out to Harpers Ferry to go white-water tubing and loved it. I've since come back to tour the town, go white water rafting again, and to hike part of the Appalachian Trail. Furthermore, if you're looking for a challenging and steep hike, try the Maryland Heights trail.

Nearby you will also find Antietam National Battlefield, which is one of the most important battlefields of the Civil War.

To get to Harper's Ferry from DC, you can take the MARC (a commuter train) during weekdays ($8 for a one-way ticket) or an Amtrak train ($18 for a round-trip ticket). Alternatively, you can drive by taking Interstate 70 to Frederick, and getting off on exit US 340 West.

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Main Street in Annapolis, Maryland
Main Street in Annapolis, Maryland | Source

Annapolis

Annapolis is a charming and historic little town on the Chesapeake Bay - and it can't be missed!

The town is home to the US Naval Academy, elegant mansions (and other buildings which date back to the 17th, 18th, and 19th century), and all things nautical. Annapolis is actually considered the sailing capital of the US. There's also amazing crabs. All of these make Annapolis a must-see for anyone contemplating a day trip from Washington, DC.

To get to Annapolis, take Hwy 50 East. If you're on a tight budget, you can take a commuter bus.

Did you know that Annapolis was once the nation's temporary capital?

Fredericksburg Battlefield

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Fredericksburg Museum

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Fredericksburg, Virginia

George Washington didn't just call Harper's Ferry home, he once called Fredericksburg, Virginia home as well.

Located just about an hour drive away from Washington, DC, Frederickburg is the kind of town where you take a step back in time and let your your patriotic pride shine through as this town saw some Civil War action (the Battle of Frederickburg) and you can take a stroll along what is now the Civil War Trails. For some memorabilia, head to Lee's Headquarters, the civil war store where your can get your hands on unique Civil War items such as bullets and postcards.

Fredericksburg isn't just about the Civil War though but it's a charming small town too, making it a great place to just stroll outside, basking in a historic American town. Today, Fredericksburg has a thriving foodie, vintage shopping, and arts scene. For some cafes and shops, head to Caroline and William streets.

DC Daytrip Ideas

show route and directions
A markerMount Vernon -
Mount Vernon, VA, USA
get directions

B markerHarper's Ferry -
Harpers Ferry, WV, USA
get directions

C markerAnnapolis -
Annapolis, MD, USA
get directions

D markerFredericksburg, VA -
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
get directions

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    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 2 years ago from USA

      I know that these places are considered day trips for most, but I love them so much it's hard to visit for just a day. Don't remember how many times I've been to each of them with hubby, family or taking my students. They are such good places for families and learning about US history. Enjoyed my visit. Thanks

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 22 months ago

      There is so much to see around the Washington DC area, you would have to go back there a few times just to come close. I understand the old Space Shuttle Discovery is also near there.

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