Some of life’s greatest lessons can’t be found in a text book. Hit the open road and expose your little learner to new ideas. You don’t have to travel far to get an educational impact. Skip the hotel and head to one of these destinations just a day’s drive from Washington, DC. Scroll on for the best places to go to expand the minds of little scholars.

Oxon Hill, MD – 22 minutes

National Harbor is full of family-friendly fun, but there is an art history lesson in the making down by the Potomac River. The Awakening statue found its home by the water after leaving its first home in Hains Point. The giant 72-foot sculpture is one of many art installations that make up the town center’s art scavenger hunt. Start by the five aluminum pieces perfect for climbing and sandy play on the little beach. Your future artist might even be able to try their hand at a sandcastle replica.  

Online: nationalharbor.com

North Bethesda, MD – 30 minutes

Time for a little music and arts learning fun. Head to one of the Strathmore Kids programs. Performances throughout the year inspire little audience members to connect with and explore the creative world around them. Sensory-friendly programs invite Littles with sensory sensitivities to experience the magic of the arts in a comfortable environment.

5301 Tuckerman Ln.
North Bethesda, MD
301-581-5100
Online: strathmore.org

Harper’s Ferry, WV – 1 hour 13 minutes

Thomas Jefferson described the scene here as "worth a voyage across the Atlantic". Best known for John Brown’s raid in 1859, the picturesque Harper’s Ferry is full of history. The United States Armory and Arsenal transformed a sleepy town into an industrial center. The Armory provided hundreds of jobs for residents. The B&O and Winchester & Potomac Railroads and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal all stop here. There are fascinating transportation heritage lessons to be learned too. And, who doesn’t love a great train whistle?   

Online: nps.gov/hafe

Richmond, VA - `1 hour 48 minutes

Celebrate African American history and culture all around Richmond and the surrounding regions. The American Civil War Museum is the first stop for the exploration of the American Civil War from all angles: Union and Confederate, enslaved and free African Americans, soldiers and civilians. The BHMVA preserves stories that inspire. Your curious historian can learn about the rich culture and moving histories of African American people in Virginia and what they gave to our country. This museum tells the whole story.

Online: visitrichmondva.com

Philadelphia, PA – 2 hours 29 minutes

The LEGOLAND Discovery Center is STEM fun for everyone. The Build & Test Zone lets your little engineer design their vehicle and take it to the ramps. A little trial and error result in the zooming car of their dreams. Stop by the Creative Workshop for a lesson from the resident Master Model Builder. Your budding builder can learn all the tips and tricks from the best in the business. No trip to LEGOLAND would be complete without a meet-and-greet with a few beloved Lego characters.  

500 W Germantown Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA
267-245-9695
Online: philadelphia.legolanddiscovery.com

Capron, VA – 2 hours 55 minutes

Hands-on learning is the way to go, and PandA Homestead is the best way to get everyone’s hands into an Agriculture lesson. This working farm is run by the sweetest family, and they love to show their guests around and get them involved in all the farm chores. Future farmers can feed goats, snuggle baby chicks and practice their best turkey calls. The owners know everything about the farm-to-table process because they sell eggs and meat raised on their farm. If your Little Foodie is starting to ask more about where their food comes from, then this is a must-do for the whole family.

23332 Felton Dr.
Capron, VA 23829
(434) 658-0516
Online: pandahomestead.com

Worth the Drive: Natural Bridge, VA – 3 hours 9 minutes

Did you know there is a natural wonder in the DMV’s backyard? Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, this national landmark turned popular tourist attraction, Natural Bridge is a great trip to take when your budding geologist is ready for a real-life lesson. Before your family hits the road, do a little at-home erosion science experiment, then you’ll be ready to see the up-close-and-personal effects of erosion over time. Don’t forget to explore the six miles of hiking trails, experience the caverns – all over 30 stories underground - and learn more about the native Monacan Indian tribe.   

Online: naturalbridgeva.com 

—Angelica Kajwara

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