Washington, D.C. is famous for the White House, monuments and museums, but if you’ve already been to D.C. or have a week or more to spend in the District, then take a day trip or two to enjoy some of the many interesting things the surrounding area has to offer. Here are a few suggestions
Visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia , which is approximately 50 miles from D.C. and is a very historic and beautiful place for a nice day trip. The town of Harpers Ferry sits high above the point where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers come together, and Thomas Jefferson called the sight “stupendous,” and “worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” Harpers Ferry is also famous for being the site of American abolitionist John Brown’s raid on its then federal arsenal. After the failed raid and his subsequent hanging, Brown was considered by many in the anti-slavery movement to be a martyr.
For day trippers, Harpers Ferry offers more than just history. There are several rafting and tubing outfitters in the area, including Butts Tubes and River and Trail Outfitters . Depending on your mood, you could either float lazily down the river in a tube with your companions or get an adrenaline rush from a white water rafting or kayaking day trip.
If water isn’t your thing, think about including a horse ride on your day trip. Elk Mountain Trails in Harpers Ferry offers one-hour to half-day trail rides and also moonlight rides.
Speaking of horse riding, if equine adventures are your kind of day trip adventure, then mosey out to the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia, which is approximately 70 miles from D. C.’s Reagan National Airport. There are quite a few riding facilities that offer day trippers a chance to enjoy a ride through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Autumn is an especially popular time to visit the Shenandoah Mountains, as many visitors come to see the leaves change colors.
Another popular thing to do on a day trip in the Shenandoah Mountains is hiking. There are over 500 miles of trails. Wildlife is plentiful, with deer a common sight.
If bike riding is your thing, you’ll be happy to hear that the D.C. area is a bike rider’s heaven. Two of the area’s favorite trails are Virginia’s 45-mile-long Washington and Old Dominion Trail, also known as the W&OD, and the 184-mile Chesapeake and Ohio Towpath, which starts in D.C. and goes through Maryland. Check out Bikewashington.org for more info and a list of places where you can rent a bike.
Lastly, if all this activity has worn you out and you just need a day to rest with a good glass of wine or two, head to Loudoun County, Virginia’s wine country. Wineries have sprung up all over this area of Virginia and they offer a pleasant break from monument and museum hopping for a D.C. visitor.