Where should I go?
July 2, 2010 10:36 AM   Subscribe

Planning a quick respite. A brief reprieve from the ridiculousness of life. I'm thinking a day out of DC, (maybe) overnight, somewhere picturesque, would be just the ticket! Where should I go?

You know how sometimes life and work and people in your life are swirling around you and you're trying to catch your breath but you can't and you just get caught up in it all and you realize before long that it's not the rest of the world that's crazy, it's YOU that's crazy because you didn't take breaks to smile at the sun and trees and pet a dog?

Just me?

Well, I need a little break. I'm in Washington, DC and I'd like to get out of the city for a day and maybe even overnight. I want somewhere with charming vistas, somewhere I can walk around outside and enjoy nature. Where should I go?

I have a car.
I'm going alone.
29 and female.
Don't really want to be around crowds of people.
Don't want to be unsafe.
posted by ihavepromisestokeep to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been in that area in a while, but have you been to Gunpowder Falls in MD?
posted by knile at 10:41 AM on July 2, 2010

Berkeley Springs WV. It's close, picturesque. There are spas, and a nice swimming beach at the State Park just outside of town.
posted by OmieWise at 11:10 AM on July 2, 2010 [2 favorites]

There are also a number of nearby college towns in Virginia that would fit the bill for an easy overnight getaway, particularly Charlottesville (UVA) and Lexington (VMI and W&L). While there will likely be some students around, it's summer so it should still be relatively quiet. The campuses are pretty and would offer a safe option for walking around solo. Lots of history in both locations if that's your thing as well.
posted by awegz at 11:25 AM on July 2, 2010

Shenandoah River State Park is 60 miles away from DC and is very nice. Not sure about the crowdedness factor because when we went there, we were coming back from a 2-week backpacking trip in the Blue Ridge and it was very rainy (I would guess that there are a good amount of people there ordinarily; it was deserted when we were there). But the campsites are very nice and secluded-feeling, and it would be a lovely place to go canoeing or kayaking if you're into that kind of thing. It also has 13 miles of trails, although I haven't been on any of them.

Assateague State Park in Maryland is also a really nice place to go, especially if you would like to swim in the ocean and walk on a trail (or take a bike ride) in the same trip. I don't know if you ever read Misty of Chincoteague when you were a kid (the book about the wild ponies), but this is the place where the ponies all live and you'll probably see some if you go there. Its about 3 hours away from DC.

If you can stand to make it a 3-day weekend trip, I would highly recommend checking out Grayson Highlands State Park, which is one of the most beautiful places I've visited in your general area of the country. It was much less crowded than any campground I've visited in the Shenandoah Valley or the Blue Ridge Parkway. The park includes Mount Rogers, the highest mountain in VA (it's a long walk, but not particularly challenging); the traii up to the mountain has beautiful views, lots of nice boulders to sit and eat snacks on, and there are also wild ponies there.

I've never felt myself to be in any particular danger while alone in a state park (I'm 26 and female), and they are certainly picturesque.
posted by kataclysm at 11:39 AM on July 2, 2010

Shepherdstown, West Virginia is small, calm, pretty, has great restaurants and the Lost Dog, a coffee shop where I can lose hours of time. You can rent a canoe and paddle around on the Potomac, walk the C&O canal towpath across the river, and visit a very little house.
posted by itstheclamsname at 11:44 AM on July 2, 2010

Seconding Berkeley Springs - get a room at the Bath Manor Inn, soak in the hot spring, then have a beer and read in the old bar off the lobby of the Country Inn.

There's also a decent bookshop and several antiques malls to browse around in. Have dinner at the back bar at Lot 12 Public House - very good, and a comfortable spot to eat by yourself.

There are some nice hiking trails nearby at Cacapon Resort State Park.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:10 PM on July 2, 2010

If you like history and such, Fort Washington is a very peaceful area to walk around (probably won't take up a whole day).
posted by Melismata at 12:16 PM on July 2, 2010

I came in to recommend Berkeley Springs as well, but can see that's already got a few votes, so I'll suggest a couple of hidden gems in southern Maryland as alternatives:

Jefferson Patterson Park on the Paxutent River, and Flag Pond Park or Calvert Cliffs State Park, just over the way on the Chesapeake Bay side, offer some nice variety of trails through different microenvironments, and historical features. Have dinner on Solomon's Island, and then head down to Point Lookout St. Park to camp, or chill at a nice waterfront B&B, depending on how you roll.
posted by drlith at 6:19 PM on July 2, 2010

I'm seconding Shepherdstown, WV - its about an hour and a half away, a very quaint town, and you can go on a really nice walk or run along the C&0 canal. Another nice WV town is Harper's Ferry, though there may be more people there. I also love Lost River State park where you could rent the two person cabin and pack your car with groceries, plan to spend the weekend. Its peaceful, beautiful, lots of camping, plenty of space. Is a little farther away from DC but worth the trip. For closer to home, I'd suggest spending a day at Great Falls, doing the Billy Goat Trail, or hanging out in Rock Creek Park. good luck...i can totally relate.
posted by dmbfan93 at 5:13 PM on July 3, 2010

oops, i meant lots of hiking at Lost River (no camping, its all cabins)
posted by dmbfan93 at 5:15 PM on July 3, 2010

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