Its central location on the East Coast and close proximity to multiple states mean Washington, D.C., is a great starting point for an array of day trip options. You can visit another major city, see historic sights, go to the beach, or just enjoy nature. These 5 options are 2 hours or less from D.C. so you don’t spend more time in the car than you do exploring.
Only about a 1.5-hour drive north from D.C., just over the Pennsylvania border, Gettysburg is a historical day trip destination. Most people come here to visit the Gettysburg National Historical Park and Gettysburg National Battlefield, where a battle took place that was a turning point of the Civil War. It’s also where Abraham Lincoln made his iconic Gettysburg Address. While you can easily spend a whole day at the park, there are also several places to visit in Gettysburg itself, including the Shriver House Museum, Jennie Wade House and General Lee’s Headquarters Museum.
This city on the water has been an important seaport for centuries, and at less than 1 hour from Washington, D.C., Baltimore is an easy day trip. You can find plenty of activities for the whole family. Visit the Maryland Science Center or National Aquarium. Or drive to Fort McHenry National Monument where a battle took place that is said to be the inspiration for the “Star-Spangled Banner”. When you need a break from sightseeing, go to a restaurant in the Inner Harbor and eat some of the crabs that Maryland is known for.
Sandy Point State Park, Maryland
You can get to the beach at Sandy Point State Park, just outside Annapolis, in only 45 minutes. Sitting on the Chesapeake Bay, you can go swimming, fishing, boating, or just enjoy the views of the Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse. If you have time, make a stop in Annapolis on your way back to D.C. The capital of Maryland is home to the United States Naval Academy and you can tour the grounds. Or just stop at one of the crab houses!
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
While there are some worthy parks within Washington, D.C. that offer hiking and forests, Shenandoah National Park in the middle of Virginia is a great option if you want a change of scenery. You can get to the top part of the park in less than 1.5 hours, although it’s best to do some research and find out where the trailhead of the hike you want to do is since the park is quite large. And if you have time, be sure to seek out the scenic Skyline Drive, which you can access in the north at U.S. Route 340 near Front Royal.
Mount Vernon, Virginia
Only a 30-minute drive from Washington, D.C., Mount Vernon is an ideal day trip destination for a bit of history and the outdoors. Visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the estate where the first President of the U.S. lived. You can also see his distillery! A short drive away you can see 2 more historic houses. Woodlawn & Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House is a plantation containing the original house on the property, as well as one of 3 Frank Lloyd Wright houses in Virginia. On the way to or from these properties, stop at Huntley Meadows Park and walk on one of the trails while looking out for wildlife like birds, amphibians and beavers.
SIXT Rent a Car in Washington, D.C.
Drive around the nation’s capital in a premium rental car from one of SIXT’s convenient locations. Fly into Dulles International Airport and pick up a luxury SUV or sedan to cruise the D.C. streets .