The American capital city of Washington District of Columbia (DC) is the epicenter of the U.S. government. Named after the legendary George Washington, nearly 700,000 residents call this city "home." It is estimated that commuters from outside areas raise the population to over a million during the workweek. Washington DC is situated at the fork of the Potomac River, with Maryland and Virginia on either side of the city. DC is well known for historic sites like the White House, Abraham Lincoln Memorial, and the Pentagon building. Residents of Washington DC know and love the city's culture and its unique landmarks. So, this article caters to families residing in the downtown DC area to suggest close-to-home day trips appropriate for the whole family.
There are many options for full-day family-friendly trips to get out of the city just in the Washington DC area. The surrounding area offers everything from large neighboring cities with important landmarks and cultural centers to state parks with outdoor activities. Families from Washington DC don't have to travel too far to feel like they've strayed from their regular routine and into an enjoyable family getaway. Before the journey out of DC, readers must consider the following travel guide to find the best day trips for families...
Day Trips From D.C. for the Whole Family
1. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
In 1961, the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park was established as a national monument. The area dates back to 18th-century America when the canal connected Chesapeake Bay villages along the Potomac River. Now, this national park makes for the perfect family day trip out of Washington DC due to 184 miles of scenic views, hiking trails, biking paths, picnic areas, and campsites. Plus, this is a great history lesson for the whole family while spending the day on an outdoor adventure just an hour from downtown DC.
2. Shenandoah National Park
Families from DC can reach Shenandoah National Park by way of the Blue Ridge Parkway. This Park is adjacent to the famous Shenandoah River Valley, and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains lies within the national park. Visitors can drive along the 105-mile long, scenic Skyline Drive to get a sense of the length of this park. What's more, this area offers the perfect arena for outdoor activities like camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing, and more. Accommodations like visitor centers, washrooms, and nature exhibits exist to make this an easy stop for a family day trip.
3. Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
The city of Washington DC is an hour's drive away from Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. This 94-year-old park rests on the grounds of major American Civil War battles like the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of the Wilderness, and the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. The house where Confederate General Stonewall Jackson died is another famous historic site on this land that visitors should ensure they see. This area is rich with American history, places for hiking, and opportunities to view wildlife. The military park takes about an hour's worth of Southbound driving and is situated on the scenic Rappahannock River.
4. George Washington's Estate at Mount Vernon
George Washington is forever memorialized on Mount Vernon on the Potomac River. This historic site used to be Washington's mansion and plantation—now it is preserved as a museum and art gallery full of American history. Visitors may take a guided tour through the first president's home and surrounding area. What's more, this site is located directly on the scenic Potomac River, where families can go for a stroll to take in the view. Fort Hunt Park is nearby and is a great place to hike, bike, walk, or go kayaking and canoeing on the river. This trip is only 40 minutes outside DC and has many options to entertain the family.
5. Baltimore's National Aquarium
Families living in DC are no more than an hour away from the National Aquarium in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. The non-profit public aquarium holds nearly 20,000 specimens across 750 aquatic animal species. Families should take advantage of guided tours and opportunities for interactive learning from the aquarium's specialists. While in Baltimore, there are many other activities to be done. Baltimore foodies claim that the city has some delicious cuisine no matter where one looks or tastes. What's more, families can visit a local distillery or brewery to get a drink in town. Malls and shopping areas exist for visitors that want to take home a souvenir. The adventure to the aquarium is just the beginning of a fabulous day in Baltimore. This is another safe bet for a great day trip location for families from the nation's capital.
When traveling to these nearby destinations, the family from the Washington DC metro area is liable to have the best day with their loved ones. Looking for more ideas to showcase the best of North America? Traveling families should also look into weekend getaways in Alexandria, Charlottesville, Richmond, Annapolis, Leesburg, Luray, Ocean City, and Williamsburg. Enjoy the USA!
Any family-friendly road trip ideas of your own? Share your adventure at our Wide Open Roads Facebook!
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