10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from Washington D.C.
When it's time to get away from Washington D.C., your destination options include almost the entire Eastern United States. Aside from all the possible getaways by car, the city is well connected to the Northeast and New England by train, including Amtrak's Acela high-speed train. Acela service connects Washington and Boston with 14 stops in between. You can do an urban getaway to the Broadway shows, museums, and fine dining of Manhattan, or head to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia for some history, along with rural hiking or mountain biking. The D.C. area is also within easy reach of many beaches, including those along Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. For ideas on easy city escapes, browse this list of the top weekend getaways from Washington D.C.
1 New York City
Any list of D.C. getaways has to start with New York City (or at least include it in the top three). Amtrak's Acela Express train service gets you from Union Station in Washington to Penn Station in Manhattan in three hours, sometimes even less. Whether you take in a Broadway show, enjoy a foodie adventure in the city's many great restaurants, or spend your entire visit exploring the many museums, there is something for everyone. The Dominick Hotel is one of the city's newest luxury hotels, in Hudson Square, next to SoHo and TriBeCa. It's within easy walking distance of Lower Manhattan and there's a subway stop a block away to explore other areas of the city.
2 Ocean City
For a family friendly beach getaway three hours from D.C., Ocean City, New Jersey is an excellent option. Although Ocean City, Maryland is an hour closer, the New Jersey resort retains its small-town, family feel; the town was founded 100 years ago as a church retreat location. There are no mega-resorts here, just a wide, beautiful beach fronted with an old-school, 2.5-mile-long wooden boardwalk. The boardwalk is lined with shops, restaurants, ice-cream stands, and a few amusement parks. Beyond the boardwalk are miles of windswept dune beaches. The Port-O-Call Hotel is right on the Boardwalk at 15th Street. The city's original high-rise hotel, it retains a retro charm and puts you within walking distance of the whole town. Rooms have balconies overlooking the beach and there's also a large pool.
3 Old Town Alexandria
Alexandria is right across the Potomac from Washington and already the home of many D.C. workers, and this Virginia city is an easy getaway. It's a short trip by car or you can even go by train via the Metro. The Old Town area has a concentration of preserved buildings, now converted into more than 200 locally owned shops and restaurants. Old Town Alexandria is focused around a mile-long stretch of King Street, with cobblestone streets and red-brick sidewalks. The Kimpton Lorien Hotel and Spa is a new luxury boutique hotel right in Old Town on King Street.
4 Harpers Ferry
This city in West Virginia, about 90 minutes from Washington, is where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together. Famous for its role in Civil War history, the area is just as popular as a getaway destination for its scenic beauty and abundance of outdoor activities. The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park offers both history and miles of hiking and exploring. For overnight stays there are plenty of camping areas or The Ledge House Bed and Breakfast is a popular option. This boutique property has a scenic hillside location with sweeping views of the Potomac River from its large front porch.
Gettysburg, site of the battle that was the turning point of the Civil War, is only a 90-minute road trip from Washington D.C. The battlefield, a national park called Gettysburg Memorial Battlefield, is in Southern Pennsylvania, and it's a moving place to visit. Gettysburg is an hour from Pennsylvania Dutch Country, and the two make a great getaway. Pennsylvania Dutch Country is a rural farming area, home to the local Amish population, along with many tourist attractions. You can't find a more central location than the Gettysburg Hotel, at 1 Lincoln Square. This historic hotel has been around since before the Civil War (it opened in 1797) and is a great complement to a battlefield visit. It's a wonderful choice for families, as the hotel is a piece of living history with strong connections to the Civil War.
Philadelphia makes a great weekend getaway destination from Washington, and it's less than two hours away by train. This historic city is filled with museums, great restaurants, and plenty of history, especially that of the Colonial American period. Old City (known as America's most historic square mile), near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, is a good area for sightseeing. To create a 24-hour-a-day historic experience, a stay at The Morris House Hotel, built in 1787, is a great option. This bed-and-breakfast is a few blocks from Independence Hall and is also an excellent option for couples seeking a romantic colonial getaway.
The capital city of Maryland is about an hour from Washington D.C., and its waterfront location makes it a great escape from the city, especially for a summer getaway. Annapolis is home to the United States Naval Academy (which is open for guided tours), and the city offers many museums, cool shops, and, of course, fresh seafood. The Annapolis Waterfront Hotel, Autograph Collection lives up to its name with a great harbor front location. Some of the hotel's rooms and suites have perfect views of the harbor and its many boats. Autograph Collection is a Marriott boutique hotel brand.
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8 The Greenbrier
This large resort in West Virginia is a getaway destination in itself. A hotel first opened on the site in 1778, and it has grown into an 11,000 acre luxury resort and wellness spa. Over the years, 27 US presidents have stayed at The Greenbrier, along with a who's who of international royalty and celebrities. There is a wide range of activities available (more than 50 different things to do), with golf, fishing and horseback riding two of the most popular. There's even a bowling alley and a movie theater, all inside the vast hotel. The Greenbrier is in Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, about a four-hour drive from Washington D.C.
9 Rehoboth Beach
Another small-town beach city, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware has long been a popular (and cheap) summer getaway for D.C. residents. It has a broad, sandy, flat beach; an old-fashioned wooden boardwalk; and even a bandshell in the center of town, with plenty of great musical programming and performances. The boardwalk is lined with carnival games, food stands, and locally-owned shops. If you time it right, you can leave Washington and be on the Rehoboth Beach within about 2.5 hours.
10 Cape Hatteras
The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is a strikingly beautiful area, part of North Carolina's Outer Banks. There are miles and miles of raw, undeveloped beaches and grassy sand dunes. The area all around Cape Hatteras is just about one of the best places on the whole East Coast for sportfishing and surfing, too. The harbors and beaches provide a great vacation environment, and all the fishing results in incredible seafood. It's about a six-hour drive from Washington, but well worth it. The Cape Hatteras Motel sits right on the sand, facing the sea. The rooms are not luxurious, but you'll be too distracted by the view to notice.