Yes, you live in one of the coolest cities in America, filled with tons of family-friendly and fun things to do. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need a quick getaway now and then; a place to kick back and enjoy quality time with loved ones. Luckily, you also live within a few hours drive to some of the best mini-vacations destinations in the country. Try one of these getaway spots the next time you and the kids need a quick weekend away to recharge your batteries.
Photo: Colonial Williamsburg
Washingtonians have the largest living history museum right in their back yard and it’s a three-hour drive from the city. Colonial Williamsburg features 301 acres of restored, reconstructed, and historically furnished buildings designed to take you back to 18th century life and the American Revolution. Spend a day walking the streets, interacting with theatrical groups and interpretive characters from 18th century Virginia life. There will be beating drums, trilling fifes and fireworks. You’ll encounter artisans dedicated to specific trades, such as brickmaking, carpentry, culinary, apothecary, gunsmithing and more. If you have multiple days to fill, there’s plenty more to do here: Busch Gardens, Water Country USA, Great Wolf Lodge, Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center. Distance: 154 miles/3-hour drive=
Jellystone Park Camp and Resort
This kid paradise offers an exceptional family camping experience where beautiful natural surroundings are paired with so many activities for the kids that you’ll never hear the words: “mommy, I’m bored.” Located at the scenic foothills of western Maryland, Jellystone features swimming pools and a water zone with waterslides, onsite mini-golf, gen mining, an arcade, jumping pillow, laser tag, outdoor sports, and playgrounds. Need we say more? You can park your camper, pitch your tent, or rent a luxury cabin. It’s the perfect kid-centered getaway. Distance: 75 miles/1.5 hour drive
16519 Lappans Rd. (Williamsport, Md)
Photo: Science Museum of Richmond
If you got some little history buffs on your hands, then Virginia’s capitol city is an excellent getaway destination, featuring some of the best museums in the area. The Children’s Museum of Richmond and The Science Museum of Richmond sit right next to each other with a courtyard for picnicking in between. You can easily spend a full day between these two museums and the kids will never get bored. And there’s more. A must stop is The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar, the first museum to interpret the war through three different perspectives: Union, Confederate and African American. It is located in downtown Richmond on the historic James River, and the 8-acre site features five buildings that illustrate Virginia’s Iron Works era. Richmond also features the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, The Edgar Allen Poe museum, The Virginia Historical Society, and the Hollywood Cemetery—the final resting place to US Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler, along with thousands of Confederate soldiers. Your history buffs will love this place! Distance from DC: 108 miles/2-hour drive
If your little ones are silly for Sesame Street, this an excellent mini-vacation spot. It is the nation’s only theme park based entirely on Sesame Street, and it’s an easy drive from DC. Kids will enjoy rides, water slides, and an endless array of their favorite furry friends. Spend time at Cookie Monster Land, or win an opportunity to meet, greet and eat with Elmo and Friends. There are plenty of chances to sing and dance along at daily character shows, including the park’s newest show, The Magic of Art and the Neighborhood Street Party Parade. There’s even a Halloween Spooktacular throughout the month of October where the park is turned into a family-friendly Halloween haven featuring The Count. Hotel packages let you book a room that includes park tickets and meals for worry-free convenience. Distance: 160 miles/3-hour drive
100 Sesame Rd. (Langhome, Pa)
Photo: Virginia State Parks via Flickr
You simply cannot live in the DMV without having experienced a weekend trip to the Shenandoah Valley. It stretches more than a hundred miles throughout Virginia and features gorgeous mountain vistas, winding hiking trails and tumbling waterfalls. Not only is it one of the most beautiful places in the area, but if you’re feeling the need to unplug electronics and remind the kids that nature matters, then this is the perfect getaway spot, and just a two-hour drive from the heart of DC. You can pack a picnic and make it a full day of hiking; or you can fill the car with camping equipment and spend the night at one of the parks several public campgrounds. And if glamping is more your speed, there are plenty of luxury cabins to rent. You really can’t go wrong here if what you need most is to forget the daily grind and simply unwind. Distance: 75 miles/1.5 hour drive
For those who prefer urban amenities, but in a setting that exudes charm, then Maryland’s Capitol City of Annapolis is a winning mini-vacation spot. Annapolis is a quaint bayside town with picturesque, sailboat-studded water views. Luckily, you don’t have to own your own boat to enjoy the Chesapeake Bay. You can join any number of popular boating experiences from sightseeing tours to sunset sailing. In addition to a boating adventure, the perfect weekend getaway to Annapolis would include some time walking down Main Street where you’ll find a great selection of shops selling souvenirs, antiques, art, and nautical-themed gifts, a tour of the U.S. Naval Academy, plus one of many kid-friendly activities the city offers, including a life-like pirate adventure on a majestic ship and several well-equipped parks. Distance: 54 miles/1-hour drive
What do you do to stretch out summer just a little longer? Tell us in the comments below.