Day Trips from Washington, DC

Pick your pleasure – eating crabs at the water’s edge, shopping in fashionable boutiques, touring historic battlegrounds. These fascinating cities and charming towns make terrific (and easy) day trips from DC.

Waterfront of Alexandria, VA
Dining along the waterfront in Alexandria, Virginia (Photo courtesy Visit Alexandria)
Baltimore's Inner Harbor
Inner Harbor in downtown Baltimore, Maryland
Adroit Theory Brewery, Purcellville, Virginia
Adroit Theory Brewery in Purcellville, Virginia
Couple shopping in Easton, MD
Shopping in Easton, Maryland
Waterfront of Alexandria, VA
Baltimore's Inner Harbor
Adroit Theory Brewery, Purcellville, Virginia
Couple shopping in Easton, MD

Virginia

Clifton

Less than an hour southwest of DC, charming Clifton takes visitors back in time with its late-19th-century architecture. Here you’ll find the last remaining railroad crossing in Fairfax County; originally called Devereux Station, the town was an important supply site during the Civil War. These days, esteemed restaurant Trummer’s on Main draws foodies from near and far.

  • Photo Ops: Red caboose in the centre of town, hiking the Bull Run-Occoquan Trail, house on Main Street where the screenplay for “Sleepless in Seattle” was written
  • What the Locals Love: Annual Clifton Day Festival, Peterson’s Ice Cream Depot, Paradise Springs Winery
  • Distance to DC: 26 miles, 41 km

Purcellville

About an hour west of DC, find yourself in the heart of Virginia's Wine Country. Purcellville is home to several award-winning wineries, plus Catoctin Creek Distilling Company, a producer of whiskey, gin and brandy. For a popular outdoor pursuit, bike the Washington & Old Dominion trail.

  • Photo Ops: Purcellville Train Station, rotating outdoor mural at Franklin Park Arts Center, Historic Old Town
  • What the Locals Love: New American eatery Magnolias at the Mill, roller skating at Bush Tabernacle, eclectic boutiques, Fireman’s Field youth baseball games
  • Distance to DC: 50 miles, 80 km

Alexandria

On the Potomac River, just a short Metro or ferry ride from DC, Old Town Alexandria blends small-town Colonial charm with upscale restaurants, high-end boutiques and an art scene featuring street performers, galleries, theatre and the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Alexandria has been voted one of the “Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in the U.S.”

  • Photo Ops: Ivy-covered Wilkes Street Tunnel, views of DC from the waterfront, the 7-foot-wide Spite House
  • What the Locals Love: Cocktails at speakeasy PX, watching planes land at Gravelly Point, Old Town Farmers’ Market on Saturdays
  • Distance to DC: 8 miles, 13 km

Maryland

Baltimore

Just an hour from DC by Amtrak or MARC Train, Baltimore is the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Maryland. Attractions in the “Charm City” include Oriole Park at Camden Yards baseball stadium and the National Aquarium, plus many great museums, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.

  • Photo Ops: Edgar Allan Poe’s gravesite, inside George Peabody Library, neon Domino Sugar plant sign
  • What the Locals Love: Gypsy Queen Café food truck, First Fridays in Hampden, public bocce ball courts
  • Distance to DC: 39 miles, 62 km

Ellicott City

Located north of DC and west of Baltimore, Ellicott City is a former railroad town whose quaint Main Street is the perfect backdrop for a leisurely afternoon. Founded in 1772, the town offers up plenty of character, historic sites and quite a few ghost stories. Tours offered by the county tourism centre recount tales behind some of the most haunted locales.

  • Photo Ops: Thomas Isaac log cabin, clock tower at Town Square, waterfalls in Patapsco Valley State Park
  • What the Locals Love: Free summer outdoor movies, Midnight Madness in December, Preakness Celebration Balloon Festival
  • Distance to DC: 37 miles, 59 km

Easton

Make the 1.5-hour drive from DC to visit Easton, a picturesque town on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that has gained attention as a destination for culinary delights. Water sports, golf, gourmet dining, art galleries and live music venues are all highlights, along with the annual Waterfowl Festival in November.

  • Photo Ops: Talbot County Courthouse’s brick facade, wildlife in Pickering Creek Audubon Center, sailboats on the Tred Avon River
  • What the Locals Love: Cheese from Chapel’s Country Creamery, Bartlett Pear Inn for date night, shows at the Avalon Theatre
  • Distance to DC: 70 miles, 112 km

Want more ideas for ways to spend your holiday here? Read this itinerary for the best of the Capital Region, or view our latest Holiday Guide.

Related: 
Scenic Drives
City Adventures