Day Trips, Washington D.C.
Maryland's First Capital, Saint Mary's City makes a Historic Great Day trip from the DC Area at just 69 miles south of Washington D C (less from National Harbor) through the Historic Mother County of Maryland, Saint Mary's County which lies on the Southern Peninsula separated by the Potomac, Patuxent Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay further to the south. Historic St. Mary';s City lies host to several festivals and events throughout the year located on the historic site of Maryland's first capital. Take a tour of the Maryland Dove ship as you learn about Maryland's history overlooking the beautiful St. Mary's River. Along with the history, St. Mary's City is home to St. Mary's College of Maryland with a rich history itself and many National Champion sailors through the years. St. Mary's County and its brother counties of Charles and Calvert have many civil war historical sites, many Maryland and Nationally significant sites to visit on your way to and from the day trip. Hotels in Lexington Park, Leonardtown and California including some hidden gem Bed and Breakfasts can keep you busy all weekend with or without the kids. In early August you can choose to sail the Governor's Cup race connecting the two capitals, starting in Annapolis and racing overnight to St. Mary's City.
One of the most recognizable towns in Virginia is Arlington. Here is a picture of the Lee Mansion.
During the Civil War, Union Soldiers were buried here and that was the beginning of what is known today as Arlington Cemetery. This is a favorite tourist destination that shouldn't be missed. This was also the site where people from town would gather to watch the battles going on. Can't imagine it as a spectator sport, but they didn't seem to take it seriously at the time.
Reston is a more modern planned community in the state of Virginia. Most of the residents here are employeed in D.C. and comute daily, either by car or subway. A visit to this neat little town will help to round out the view of Virginia.
More information can be seen on my Reston page.
Harper's Ferry became famous because John Brown, an abolitionist, and his rag-tag group of men decided to rob the US Army Asenal located in this small town.
He failed to escape and was later tried in Alexandria and there hanged. The details of this story are found at the Harper's Ferry outdoor museum and well worth a day trip to this fantastically beautiful area of West Virginia.
More information can be found on my West Virginia page.
Driving from Washington D.C. to Shepherdstown and Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, we took the scenic route which offered rustic and breathtaking views.
Shepherdstown, a beautiful arts-rich town, was the oldest town in West Virginia and originally known as Mecklenburg.
The Potomac River and the Shenandoah River run through this area and besides the typical water sports offered along these rivers in various areas, the overwhelming scenery is just a hint of the natural beauty of this state known as "Wild West Virginia!"
Harper's Ferry is a charming town full of history. It is even kept up as a National Historical Park and part of the Civil War Discovery Trail.
Tour guides in authentic costumes tell about the group of small museums in old original buildings all year long.
There are shops with antiques, crafts and Civil War memorabilia along the cobblestone streets winding uphill from the park.
Not only is the N.H.Park interesting, the drive out here is really beautiful!
More information on my West Virginia page.
Annapolis is the capital of Maryland and would be a great location for a day trip from D.C. There are charming old streets to stroll down, great places to eat and some stunning historical sites.
The parts of Annapolis that I traveled through seemed to be the older section of town. The streets were not quite as straight and long as I was used to and there were power liines above head almost every where. The streets were narrower, more like Europe. Maybe this was all an effort to keep the Capitol Building in sight on most streets. I don't really know. It seems that where ever you are in the town, the Maryland State Capitol can be seen.
The Harbor has been developed and now is a great place to visit. Things going on there all the time. They've added a monument to the author, Alex Haley. You can even see the plaque indicating the place where the real Kunta Kinte, of "Roots" fame, first stepped foot on U.S. soil.
More information about Maryland can be found on my Maryland page.
On a day trip to Maryland, take a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. The history is interesting, the campus is beautiful and the views are awesome.
My dad was in the US Navy, so going to the Naval Academy was especially interesting to me from the beginning.
However, I spent part of a day at Annapolis and learned so many new things that might be intertesting to any visitor. What surprised me most was seeing the "boats" used for training!! I've boarded many of the ships my dad was stationed on over the years of his service, including an aircraft carrier, and to think these midshipmen learn about sailing on those huge vessels on such a little sail boat tied up at the harbor just floored me.
This Naval Academy played a part in Tom Clancy's novel, "Patriot Games." I also saw the movie and was very surprised to see and recognize this Gate where Harrison Ford was met by a would be assassin!
More information about this tour can be found on my Annopolis page.
In 1749 large blocks of land were auctioned off near the harbor along the Potomac River and the city of Alexandria was born. George Washington helped to lay out the town at it's conception.
Today you can still see the Historical Old Town with it's Market Square, Brick buildings and cobbled stone streets. In the Old Episcopal Church you'll see small plaques telling where someone, historically famous sat while attending. Also, don't miss Gadsby's Tavern where revolutionary ideas flourished along with the ale !
For more information about this town see my Alexandria page.
A day trip to Maryland, a short drive from Washington DC, offers several interesting and historical sites to visit. One is the Antietam Battlefield Museum. It is an outdoor museum and quite impressive.
The Burnside Bridge in Sharpsburg is part of the outdoor museum of the Antietam Battlefield. The photo shown here is of the towers at Bloody Lane, named so, because when the smoke cleared in this Civil War Battle, the blood of more than 23,000 dead, in a single day, flowed freely along "Sunken Road."
Stop at the Visitor's Center and pick up a brochure that will guide you through the area. Antietam is open every day from 8:30 until 5 or 6 pm, all year long, except on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
There are three days that special events take place at Antietam and if you'll be in the area on any of these dates, plan your visit then:
**17 September --the anniversary of the Sharpsburg battle at Antietam.
**Saturday closest to the 4 of July--Commemorating Independence Day.
**First Saturday in December--The Memorial Illumination. 23,000 candles on the battlefield; each representing a casualty from the bloodiest single-day-battle in American History
While in Maryland add a tour to this historic site. More information to be found on my Maryland page.
If you are in downtown area, an easy and inexpensive way to get around is to use the DC Circulator - go-around bright red bus lines operated by Metro.
From Metro web site - "The DC Circulator is a new bus service operating in the heart of Washington DC. Three routes serve the center city; a North/South route travels between the Washington Convention Center and the Southwest Waterfront everyday from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, an East/West route travels from Union Station to Georgetown everyday from 7:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and a Smithsonian/ National Gallery of Art route makes continuous loops around the National Mall everyday between 9:30 AM and 6:00 PM."
Correction added 12/12/2009 -
(This information will get out of date, so please use it as a starting point only)
"There are 2 loops originating at Union Station and three other loops intersecting them"
Union Station – Navy Yard Metro
Georgetown-Union Station Route
intersecting loop routes -
Woodley Park – Adams Morgan – McPherson Square Metro
Smithsonian/National Gallery of Art Loop
Convention Center-SW Waterfront Route
one of these takes you to Library of Congress and Capitol City, Senate Halls, Supreme Court
one takes you to offices at Lenfant Plaza and across the Washington Mall and the museums
another takes you to Georgetown past several office and commercial buildings , M street.
" Schedule and fares:
DC Circulator buses serve each stop every 5-10 minutes from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The Circulator fare is $1.
Payment options include exact change, SmartTrip™ card, tickets from a multi-space meter, Metro transfers and passes. "
If you become exhausted from visiting too many museums and monuments in Washington D.C., then take a drive out of the city and into the suburbs to see the countryside. On the way to Frederick, Maryland, you will pass many farms with homes and barns of every design. I found this one to be charming and tranquil.
Manassas was the location of two major Civil War Battles. Known in the South as the Battles of Manassas and in the North as the Battles of Bull Run, these two conflicts took place on practically the same battlefield.
The first Battle of Bull Run began on 21 July 1861 and was the first land battle of the Civil War. It it said that countless Washington residents arrived and had picnics to watch the battle, not knowing what horrors war brought. This is also where Thomas Jackson earned praise by standing with his troops in enemy fire, "like a stonewall." The Henry Hill Visitor Center, on Sudley Road by the south entrance focuses on First Bull Run.
Second Bull Run was fought 28-30 August 1862. In this struggle, the south easily won, marking their The Second Bull Run visitors center is at the Stuart's Hill Center on the west side of the park.
The park headquarters is at 12521 Lee Highway, Manassas, VA, about 30 miles from downtown Washington, DC. To get to Manassas Battlefield, take I-66 West and watch for the signs.
Washington DC, Street are confusing mish mash of numbers and letters sot it would be hard to drive here for a first timer. To find an address in DC, your clue is the street address number. If your address is on a numbered street, like 616 Fifth Street, count to the sixth letter of the alphabet (F) and, voila—your address is on Fifth Street between F and G Streets. If you’re looking for an address on a lettered street—say, 1320 R—head to R and your destination will be between 13th and 14th. The city of Washington was designed on a grid. At its center is the US Capitol. The streets running north and south are numbered, and the east-west streets are lettered beginning at the Capitol and extending in both directions. The city is divided into four quadrants: Northwest (NW), Northeast (NE), Southwest (SW), and Southeast (SE). The quadrant boundaries extend north, south, east, and west from the Capitol along streets appropriately named North Capitol, South Capitol, and East Capitol. (There is no West Capitol Street because it would run through the center of the National Mall.) The horizontal lettered streets extend consecutively north and south from East Capitol Street and the Mall—thus, one block north of East Capitol Street is A Street, Northeast, and one block south is A Street, Southeast. The vertical numbered streets run consecutively from North and South Capitol streets to the east and west—meaning that one block west of North Capitol is First Street, Northwest, and one block east is First Street, Northeast. Any address in the District has four possible locations—626 Fifth Street, Northwest; 626 Fifth St., Northeast; etc.—so it’s important to note the quadrant included with each street address.
If you've gotten tired of the city life take a weekend trip to Brightwood Farm. Brightwood Farm is located about 2 hours (car) west of DC in the town of Brightwood, VA. Its a pretty nice drive to get there too. You get the chance to see some Virginia countryside and if you have time stop off at a winery on your way there. Brightwood Farm is an organic farm with tons of goats, chickens, mules, and funny looking birds that noisily roam the farm. They also grow all kinds of veggies, hops, fruit and grapes for their own wine. The farm is own by Susan and her husband who are very kind and encourage you to peruse their farm. The cabin is located more in the woods on their farm set on a hill that overlooks Robinson River. Yes, you can walk down to the river and go for a swim. You may see kayakers and canoers down there as well. The cabin is beautiful! Its a one bedroom with a loft with 2 single beds. They have 2 cots for extra sleeping arrangements. They have a full kitchen with microwave, stove, coffee maker, and fullsize fridge. There is even an air conditioner. Thank god, because it was 100F while we were there. There is also a wonderfully large deck out back with a picnic table and several chairs. Next to the cabin was also a charcoal grill. The best part of staying there is that Susan will bring you a basket filled with your breakfast for the next day. We arrived on Friday and at 6:30pm she brought us a large basket with a casserole dish of frenchtoast, fresh strawberries, ham, coffee, and homemade butter along with cooking directions. The following evening her sister-in-law (Susan went out of town) brought us sausage, fresh multicolored eggs from her happy chickens, juice, coffee, milk and cooking directions. This cabin really has everything you need for a comfortable stay. The cost was $155/night for 2 people (I think) and $20 for each extra person. I think there was a 2-night minimum stay which is standard. On Saturday mornings there is a farmer's market that we went to which was really fun. The farm is also located close to many hiking destinations near the Shenandoah Mountains.
32 miles (about 50 km) south of Washington is a very nice forested area perfect for hiking and camping. Run by the National Park Service, Prince William Forest Park has a wide variety of hiking trails for all levels of fitness. It's a pleasant diversion from the bustle inside "the Beltway."
Entry fee is $5 per vehicle per week. An annual pass for the Park costs $20. National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass ($80) is valid.
To get there, take I-95 to Exit 150B. Park entrance will be on the right.