If the un-official start of summer (read: Memorial Day weekend) has snuck up on you, leaving you and your family high and dry with no holiday plans, don’t worry! It’s not too late for a last minute getaway. Relax with your Bjorn straddler at a botanical garden or burn off the sugar rush at a sweet park. Read below for six amazing destinations that are all within a two hour drive of the Capital.
Only 15 miles away, Vienna has a historic downtown with charming small businesses, a portion of the W&OD trail to hike or bike on and a notable dining scene. But this weekend’s real draw is the family-friendly festival followed by a free concert and fireworks.
Photo: Town of Vienna
You’ll love… Starting off the day with a stroll through Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. These gardens are home to a Korean Bell Garden — the only one of its kind in the western hemisphere. Admission is $5, $2.50 for seniors and kids ages 7-17. Little ones under 6 are free.
Kids will enjoy… ViVA! Vienna! From tot-friendly attractions, like a carousel and choo choo train, to thrill-seeking rides like the Cliff Hanger and Funnel Force, kids will enjoy 24 amusement rides and games at this family-friendly festival. Rides require anything from 3-5 tickets, and it’s $1/ticket. Hours are Sat.-Sun, 10 am-10 pm; and Mon. 10 am-6 pm.
Everyone will remember… winding back down and cooling off with a scoop of gelato at local favorite Molly’s. The flavors alone–think: cinnamon pear and peanut butter cup–will have you wanting to come back well before next year’s Memorial Day.
Enjoy bayside breezes and historical architecture just forty-minutes from downtown DC.
Photo: George Beinhart via Flickr
You’ll love… the historic charm of Downtown Annapolis. Lined with art galleries, antique stores and mom-and-pop boutiques, these cobblestone streets were voted the most romantic streets in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Of course, that fact is more for the parents – Your tots will be more engaged with the trotting horses and sailboats to notice their moms and dads k-i-s-s-i-n-g.
Kids will enjoy… boarding the Sea Gypsy, which sets sail on the Chesapeake Bay, for a pirate-themed adventure that water babies will get a kick out of. It sets sail six times daily on Sat. and Sun. Reservations are recommended; tickets cost $22 per person and $12 for children under 2.
Everyone will remember… spending a day under the sun at Sandy Point State Park. Hailed as the closest beach to the city, a visit here is a sure fire way to relax. There are also nearby hiking paths for those with a little extra energy to burn. The entrance fee is $5; $7 for non-residents.
If you’re looking to escape the incoming summer heat, head 55 miles west to Bluemont, Va where the Blue Ridge Mountains promise consistently cooler temperatures.
Photo: Suzie’s Farm via Flickr
You’ll love… sipping on wine at the Bluemont Vineyard, a family-friendly winery with farm-themed wines like “The Cow” a sweet white and “The Donkey” a slightly dry rose. The tasting fee is $8 and the tour is $5.
Kids will enjoy… hopping over the fence to Great Country Farms, which is directly across the street from the vineyards. Strawberries are ripe for the picking at this u-pick farm. You’ll also be able to satisfy more than your sweet tooth. Other attractions include baby farm animals, wagon rides, miniature golf and more.
Everyone will remember… enjoying the panoramic view of the mountain range from Bears Den, which has an elevation of 1,350 feet. Visitor parking is $3 at the Bears Den day-use lot. For those wishing to hike, park in the Route 7 parking lot for a half-mile uphill climb.
National Harbor, Md
While not a beach town, per say, National Harbor offer seaside flavor just 10 miles away.
Photo: jpellgen via Flickr
You’ll love… the holiday deals and promotions at the Tanger Outlets. For the budding fashionistas to die-hard window shoppers a trip here is a day excursion in itself. You’ll be pooped by the time you’ve finished checking out over 85 brand name stores.
Kids will enjoy… resting those legs while watching a nice movie outdoors at the Harbor’s jumbo screen. Akeelah and the Bee, a PG flick, will be screening on Sun., May 24 at 6p.m. Movies are free, just bring chairs, blankets and a picnic for a night under the stars.
Everyone will remember… strolling along the waterfront where you can dig your toes into the sand, rent pedal boats, ride a The Carousel and take in panoramic views on The Capital Wheel.
Heralded as the “Sweetest Place on Earth,” this famous chocolate town is a two hour drive.
Photo: Michael Gray via Flickr
You’ll love… how even the youngest food snob will find their mouths watering at Tröegs Brewing Company, a microbrewery with a snack bar. Sample their award winning beers and, if time allows, tour the brewery (tours are $5).
Kids will enjoy… the unforgettable Hershey Park? With rides for all ages, this attraction is a good time guarantee. The newest attraction is Laff Track, the first indoor, spinning glow-coaster.
Everyone will remember… a ride on one of the last paddle-wheel riverboats, the Susquehanna. The forty-five minute sightseeing cruise departs everyday at 12 pm, 1:30 pm and 3 pm in Harrisburg, PA. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for children 3-12.
Harpers Ferry, Wv
Just an hour drive from the city, this town is most famous for the Battle at Harpers Ferry. Nestled along the Potomac River, this destination offers a plethora of outdoor activities, including ziplines, hiking and boating.
Photo: m01229 via flickr
You’ll love… zipping along eight ziplines with views of the river at Harpers Ferry Canopy Tour. There are also ladder climbs and two suspension bridges. Children must be 5 years of age or older. Rates start at $69 for children under 12 and $79 for adults.
Kids will enjoy… the free Junior Ranger program that enhances the Harpers Ferry Park experience.
Everyone will remember… Harpers Ferry National Historic Park. This park, which runs along the Potomac River, has over 20 trails to hike. Along the trails, you’ll find living history demonstrations, including blacksmithing and cooking. The park fee is $10 per vehicle.
Got a great day destination to share? Tell us in the comments below!
— Meghan Yudes Meyers and Ayren Jackson-Cannady