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12 Unforgettable Day Trips from Washington DC

12 Unforgettable Day Trips from Washington DC

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Are you visiting Washington DC but might want to add some day trips to your DC itinerary? Check out these amazing day trips from Washington DC that are totally worth the effort!
This list of day trips from Washington DC was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Visiting DC and want to explore the wider area beyond Smithsonian museums and national monuments?

Thanks to the East Coast’s public transport options and the capital’s proximity to multiple states, it’s super easy to take fun day trips from Washington DC!

You can escape the crowds with a day at the beach, the slopes, or a national park. Or, you can enjoy thrills at theme parks, visit other major cities, or enjoy a short romantic getaway from DC. 

It’s all possible within three hours on Washington DC day trips!

Whether you’re looking for epic road trips from Washington DC or easy day trips from Washington DC by train, this guide has you covered. 

Families, couples, and solo travelers alike will find their ideal DC day trips right here.

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Washington DC blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Washington DC with kids.

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Day Trip from Washington DC to Philadelphia, PA

While exploring everything the City of Brotherly Love has to offer in one day isn’t ideal, Philadelphia is still one of the best day trips from DC. Especially if you don’t visit the East Coast often!

Image of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Head to Independence Hall to see the Liberty Bell, the former US Congress, and where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

Or, venture north of the city to climb the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Art Gallery and visit the Eastern State Penitentiary Museum.

Fuel your epic day trip by munching on cheesesteaks and banana splits, which were also invented in Philly!

How To Get From Washington DC to Philadelphia

Distance: 139 miles

This is one of the best day trips from DC by train as it’s the quickest and easiest. From Washington Union Station, take one of the Amtrak trains heading to William H. Gray III 30th Street station in Philadelphia every 60 minutes.

These services take 90 – 120 minutes and return tickets cost around $20.

Washington DC to Sandy Point State Park, MD Day Trip

Are you not sure whether you can enjoy beach day trips from DC? The capital might be pretty near the coast, but that might not mean there are beaches nearby,

The beach at Sandy Point State Park, in Annapolis, Maryland
The beach at Sandy Point State Park, in Annapolis, Maryland

Luckily, the nearest beach to DC is Sandy Point State Park and it’s super close. You can lots of time swimming and building sand castles and much less time sitting in the car!

There are also playgrounds and views of the Sandy Point Shoal Lighthouse and Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

How To Get From Washington DC to Sandy Point State Park

Distance: 37 miles

Rent a car and you’ll be in Sandy Point State Park within one hour’s drive. This is one of the shortest day trips near Washington DC!

Day Trip from Washington DC to Richmond, VA

On day trips from DC, you can explore other historic cities like Richmond.

This is one of the best day trips in Virginia as it’s super each to reach from DC, is a great foodie city, and has plenty to do.

Richmond, Virginia, USA downtown skyline on the James River.
Richmond, Virginia is a great Washington DC day trip option.

Visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and St. John’s Church where Patrick Henry famously said, “Give me liberty or give me death!” There are lots of picturesque parks on the James River with gorgeous skyline views too.

How To Get From Washington DC to Richmond

Distance: 109 miles

It’s faster to drive to Richmond from Washington DC and will take around one hour and 45 minutes. However, the bus is only 15 minutes longer if you don’t want to rent a car.

Take a direct Megabus or Greyhound bus from Washington Union Station to Richmond Bus Station. They depart approximately every two hours and tickets cost around $17.50.

Washington DC to Liberty Mountain, PA Day Trip

Looking for the best day trips from DC in winter? Head to Liberty Mountain Resort where you can go skiing, snowboarding, or tubing. 

This ski area covers around 275 acres of snowy mountains, making it the perfect location to enjoy a winter wonderland even just for a day.

How To Get From Washington DC to Liberty Mountain

Distance: 74.5 miles

Rent a car and drive north for just under 90 minutes to reach the slopes. Planning a road trip from DC to Liberty Mountain will make it easier to bring your warm winter clothes and any ski gear too.

Day Trip from Washington DC to Baltimore, MD

Close to the capital with an endless list of things to do, if you’re looking for fun day trips from DC then you could do a lot worse than visiting Baltimore.

Image of Baltimore, Maryland, USA cityscape at Mt. Vernon and the Washington Monument.
Baltimore is an easy day trip from Washington DC.

This city is great for foodies and also one of the best day trips from Washington DC for fans of the macabre. Visit the Edgar Allen Poe Museum and the infamous graves at Green Mount Cemetery.

Or, if you’re a history buff then check out Fort McHenry where the US national anthem was written, and the Baltimore Museum of Art

How To Get From Washington DC to Baltimore

Distance: 38.5 miles

You could drive to Baltimore, but taking the train will be cheaper and it takes half the time. From Washington Union Station, hop on a direct Amtrak Acela service to Baltimore Penn Station

The journey takes around 40 minutes (often less) and round-trip tickets can cost as little as $10. Use ride-share services like Uber to get around.

Washington DC to Shenandoah National Park, VA Day Trip

One of the best day trips from DC is to visit the city’s closest national park, Shenandoah. 

11 Best Fall Destinations in the US feature dby top US family travel blogger, Marcie in Mommyland: Shenandoah National Park is a top fall travel destination in the United States.
Stony Man Summit and the Shenandoah Valley.

Encompassing the Blue Ridge Mountains and thousands of acres of forest hiking trails, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the waterfalls and caverns of this area of incredible natural beauty. Follow the Skyline Drive for hiking trails and panoramic vistas.

How To Get From Washington DC to Shenandoah National Park

Distance: 71 miles

Rent a car and drive 75 minutes to the Skyline Caverns. Continue driving for 30 more minutes if you’d rather visit the Luray Caverns. 

Day Trip from Washington DC to Berkeley Springs, WV

One of the lesser-known, more unusual day trips from DC worth taking is to Berkeley Springs. It was the first spa town in the US and full of many quirky stores and old, colonial-style homes. 

Berkeley Springs is one of the best day trips from Washington DC for couples or those looking to escape the crowds of the big city.

How To Get From Washington DC to Berkeley Springs

Distance: 102 miles

Rent a car and drive around one hour and 45 minutes north to get to Berkeley Springs on a day trip from Washington DC.

Washington DC to Gettysburg Battlefield, PA Day Trip

Visiting Washington DC is always an educational trip, whether that’s your intention or not! One of the best day trips from DC for families who want to learn even more about US history is to the Gettysburg Battlefield.

Image of Civil war canon behind a stone wall on the Gettysburg battlefield in Autumn near sunset

Take a guided walking tour of the most important Civil War memorials and learn more about Lincoln’s famous address.

How To Get From Washington DC to Gettysburg Battlefield

Distance: 80 miles

Drive around 90 minutes just over the border to Pennsylvania to visit Gettysburg. You might be able to find small group tour day trips from DC to Gettysburg too.

Day Trip from Washington DC to Six Flags America, MD

Alternatively, if you’ve had enough of history and want to blow off steam then one of the best day trips from Washington DC for kids is to the Six Flags America theme park.

Granted, it’s one of the smaller Six Flags parks. But there are more than enough rides, rollercoasters, eateries, characters, and other attractions to keep children of all ages thrilled for a whole day!

How To Get From Washington DC to Six Flags America

Distance: 19.5 miles

Rent a car and drive only 30 minutes east to enjoy an entire day riding rollercoasters at Six Flags.

Washington DC to Loudoun County, VA Day Trip

Are you traveling as a couple and want to know if there are any romantic day trips from DC?

Without a doubt, the most romantic place to visit near DC is Loudoun County. Close to the city of Leesburg is where you’ll find dozens of wineries like Stone Tower Winery and the Zephaniah Farm Vineyard set in an idyllic patch of countryside.

How To Get From Washington DC to Loudoun County

Distance: 45 miles

Loudoun County is less than an hour’s drive west from Washington DC making this day trip one of the quickest, best getaways near DC.

Day Trip from Washington DC to Harpers Ferry, WV

You might not have heard of Harpers Ferry but it’s definitely one of the best day trips near DC for hidden gems. It sits at the point where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet and the Appalachian Trail also passes through.

Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

You can enjoy walks like the Maryland Heights Trail (slightly shorter than the Appalachian!) or hike to the abandoned forts from the Civil War dotted around the outskirts of the town. 

There’s much more to do in Harpers Ferry than you might think!

How To Get From Washington DC to Harpers Ferry

Distance: 64 miles

Driving or taking the train have roughly the same journey time, though the trains are not frequent.

If you’d prefer to travel by train, head to Washington Union Station and take a direct Amtrak service to Harpers Ferry Station. The journey is around one hour and 15 minutes (the same by car) and costs around $25 for a round-trip ticket.

Washington DC to Mount Vernon, VA Day Trip

If you don’t want to overstuff your already-packed city break, consider taking a half-day trip to Mount Vernon.

a view of the main house at the Mount Vernon estate in Virginia
Mount Vernon is a popular DC day trip.

You can visit George Washington’s vast home and estate while enjoying beautiful views across the river to Maryland.

Much of the furniture and items in the home belonged to the first president so it’s a time capsule to one of the most significant eras in US history.

How To Get From Washington DC to Mount Vernon

Distance: 19 miles

Lots of tour companies run small group Washington DC day tours if you’d prefer to follow a guide and let them do the hard work!

Otherwise, avoid spending 90 minutes hopping between buses and metro lines from DC and rent a car instead. Driving to Mount Vernon only takes 30 minutes.

DC Day Trips FAQs

How far is Mount Vernon from Washington DC, and what can I see there?

Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, is about a 45-minute drive from DC. Visitors can tour the mansion, outbuildings, gardens, and the tomb where George and Martha Washington are interred.

Is Gettysburg a good day trip from Washington DC?

Absolutely. It takes about 1.5 hours to drive to Gettysburg from Washington DC. Visitors can explore the battlefield, the Gettysburg Museum, and the National Cemetery.

Can I visit Colonial Williamsburg from Washington DC in one day?

Yes, Colonial Williamsburg is about a 2.5-hour drive from Washington DC. It’s a living-history museum where you can learn about life in the 18th century.

Is Shenandoah National Park suitable for a day trip?

Yes, Shenandoah National Park, with its stunning landscapes, hiking trails, and wildlife, is about a 2-hour drive from DC, making it perfect for a day trip.

Is Baltimore worth visiting as a day trip from Washington DC?

Absolutely. Baltimore is just an hour’s drive from DC and offers attractions like the Inner Harbor, National Aquarium, and historical neighborhoods such as Fells Point.

Can I reach these day trip destinations by public transportation?

While it’s possible to reach some places like Baltimore via public transit, others like Shenandoah National Park are more accessible with a car. Always check transportation options before planning your trip.

Day Trips from Washington DC Wrap Up

Visiting the countryside and cities of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is not only possible but easy on day trips from Washington DC.

With many things to do in DC, few visitors carve out a DC day trip in their trip itinerary to explore the wider region.

You’ll be glad you did as taking a day trip from DC will help make your vacation more exciting and memorable not only for your kids, but you too!

Looking for more Washington DC travel resources? Check out my top Washington DC travel tips for first-timers, kid-friendly Washington DC tours for families, and the best Washington DC hotels for families!

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