It used to be that you (and your BFF or boo) could get up and getaway for the weekend at a moments notice. Now, with kids, there are diaper bags to pack, travel snacks to stock up on, and sleep schedules to account for…and you wouldn’t have it any other way. The next time you need a change of scenery plan your trip here–we’ve made it easy for wanderlusting parents by mapping out the best road trips by distance (from 1 hour to 7.5 hours away from downtown D.C., depending on how much car time your kiddies can handle). All you have to do is gas up–get snacks–and go!

24023922931_1e79cd6cc7_z-1Photo: Rich Renomeron via Flickr

Baltimore, Maryland

What to See
When a staycation won’t due, Charm City is just a little over an hour away. The Inner Harbor is h a hub of kid-friendly experiences, including the Maryland Science Center , the National Aquarium, peddle boats  and more.  Not far from the waterfront, you’ll find the Port Discovery Children’s Museum, the American Visionary Art Museum  and the B&O Railroad Museum.

Where to Eat
Joe Squared is a family-owned pizza restaurant that serves coal-fired, thin crust sourdough pizza; it’s casual, family-friendly fare is not far from the waterfront attractions (and just a dough ball toss from Port Discovery).

Where to Stay
The Four Seasons Baltimore offers harbor views in almost all of its 256 rooms. It’s location makes it ideal for anyone wishing to explore the Inner Harbor area. If you want to explore the city sans kiddos, the hotel can arrange babysitting services. The hotel also offers cribs, high chairs and playpens free of charge. They even have pint-sized bathrobes and toiletries for their littlest guests.

Distance: 1 hour (40 miles)
Online: baltimore.org

thumbnailPhoto: Enchanted Woods

Brandywine Valley, Pennsylvania 

What to See
Brandywine Valley offers many scenic, outdoor spaces to explore, like Longwood Gardens, a sprawling, 1000 acre botanical garden. Now through October 29, Longwood Gardens is hosting Nightscape, an opportunity to experience the beautiful grounds at night; color, light and music transform the park into a magical nighttime landscape (viewing hours begin at 8 pm in September and 7 pm in October). If your littles are still too young for a nighttime adventure, check out the Enchanted Woods at Winterthur, where 3-acres are dedicated to fairy-tales and magical forest creatures. On rainy days, check out the Stratosphere , a large scale (30-foot in diameter) climbing structure that makes the Delaware Children’s Museum a standout.

Where to Eat
Woodside Farm Creamery  is a destination onto itself. Approximately a 30 minute drive from downtown Wilmington, this dairy-fresh ice cream shop is considered to serve the best scoops in state. In addition to dairy deliciousness, the farm hosts family friendly activities, like a children’s story time and telescope nights.

Where to Stay
Most activities in the Brandywine region are located within a 10 mile radius of Wilmington, Delaware, making the often-overlooked city the perfect place to set up camp. Downtown’s Courtyard Wilmington is within walking distance of the historic district and waterfront. Rooms feature mini fridges and microwaves. If you’re looking to unwind from the day’s activities, relax by the hotel’s fire pit or take a dip in the outdoor pool.

Distance: 2 hours (120 miles)
Online: visitwilmingtonde.com

7444907294_bf91b4fb00_zPhoto: bobistraveling via Flickr

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What to See
This city should be renamed Kidsburgh because it is packed with kid-friendly activities and family-centric restaurants. If you’re in town for just the weekend, these attractions make the short list: The Phipps Conservatory Botanical GardensCarnegie Museum of Natural History  and the Carnegie Science Center . The Duquesne Incline  offers magnificent views of the city. Fans of Daniel Tiger will love it’s striking resemblance to television trolley!

What to Eat
Schenley Plaza — a five-acre community space in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood — offers a dining plaza with four food kiosks including Conflict Kitchen, which offers food from countries the United States is currently in conflict with. The Porch is a full-service restaurant that also features a children’s garden and stage area. Before your meal (because, really, who wants to spin around post nosh), check out the PNC Carousel.

Where to Stay
The Hotel Monaco Pittsburgh features the Kimpton Kid program, which includes a welcome gift, a pet goldfish during your stay, complimentary cribs and more. We think Mom and Dad will appreciate the rooftop Biergarten!

Distance: 4 hours (242 miles)
Online: visitpittsburgh.com

7263159346_00ec6c26db_zPhoto: timeless_toys via Flickr

Asheville, North Carolina

What to See
The drive from D.C. to Asheville is one of the most scenic drives our country has to offer passing through the Blue Ridge Mountains, George Washington and Jefferson National Forest and finally, getting a quick peak of the Great Smokey Mountains before you arrive in Asheville. If the mountain drive has you singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music,” head first to the Pisgah National Forest, which covers over 500,000 acres in the Asheville area. There are a number of waterfalls throughout the park; most famous is Looking Glass Falls. Older kiddos will love Sliding Rock, a natural water slide. Still want more outdoor activities? You can spend an entire day on the grounds of the Biltmore; the Estate offers a number of kid-friendly activities, including a playground, a petting zoo, toys from the 1800s, and daily crafts and activities. Other area highlights include the Great Smokey Mountain Railroad, the Asheville Pinball Museum(http://ashevillepinball.com/), and the Asheville Museum of Science.

Where to Eat
The Early Girl Eatery offers southern comfort food (think artisanal biscuits, grits and fried green tomatoes) in a farm table style restaurant in the heart of downtown.

Where to Stay
The Farm Cabins and Cottages offer a rural retreat just eight miles west of Asheville. Built from reclaimed timber and vintage tin roofs, these rustic exteriors are filled with modern conveniences and decor — perfect for large families. After a long day exploring the area, relax next to a cabin or cottage fireplace (each residence has one!).

Distance: 7 hours (470 miles)
Online: exploreasheville.com

3267327539_0207702f14_z-1Photo: Photography at Vine Ripe Design via Flickr

Charleston, South Carolina

What to See
Charleston made our list because, while it’s a long-haul, it is still do-able in a day’s drive. And once you reach your destination, we promise the historic architecture, gas lights and palm trees will make you feel like you’ve arrived in a city somewhere across the ocean. The Charleston Visitor Center (375 Meeting Street) is a great place to start your adventure. Next door, you’ll find Children’s Museum of Lowcountry  which features eight themed exhibit rooms and hands-on activities (including a giant. life-size pirate ship). The South Carolina Aquarium  offers plenty of hands-on exhibits and interactive play spaces. For outdoor fun, check out the Hazel V Parker Playground (a great pit stop when walking from the Waterfront Park to theBattery.

Where to Eat
The French Quarter’s Brown Dog Deli offers artisan sandwiches in casual atmosphere. We just want to warn you; this is a local hot-spot, so be prepared to wait if you visit during the lunch hour rush. The portions sizes, reasonable prices, and elevated ingredients make it worth it.
Where to Stay
Just over the bridge from downtown Charleston, the Residence Inn Charleston Riverview offers spacious suites with complete kitchens. In addition to offering a complimentary breakfast, the hotel offers free snacks, like DIY smores and happy hour beers. There is also a pool on-site.

Online: charlestoncvb.com
Distance: 7.5 hours 532 miles


What’s your favorite trip to take with family? Share with us in the Comments!

–Meghan Meyer