Weekend getaway
August 2, 2005 10:17 AM   Subscribe

Any suggestions for destinations for a weekend trip from Washington, DC?

A friend and I want to leave the Washington DC area this Friday night, go someplace that's at most about a 3 or 4 hour drive away, and come home on Sunday. My friend nixed the beach, saying traffic would be too terrible on Friday night, and I nixed Colonial Williamsburg, because I was went when I was twelve and I can't imagine much has changed since then.

We both like relaxing, museums, and nature, and neither of us want to spend a ton of money (think a budget roughly the same as one needed for a weekend at the beach). I'm not really one for camping.

posted by amarynth to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Spy Museum. You have to pay to get in unlike many museums in DC, but it is worth it. Lines can be rediculous so look into advance tickets.

The Hirschorn often gets overlooked by Smithsonian visitors.

On the high end, a fantastic new restaurant just opened on Capitol Hill, right near the Capitol/House Office Buildings. If you're a bit picky it's not terribly expensive either.

On the lower end, check out this dive-y place in Chinatown. They make UNBELIEVEABLE noodle soup for cheap. They make the noodles fresh right in the window, but don't bother with much of anything else on the menu other than the noodles and dumplings.
posted by Heminator at 10:33 AM on August 2, 2005

Also, I forgot it is restaurant week in DC. You can have some fantastic meals for relatively cheap at restaurants you wouldn't normally afford, but making reservations in advance is a good idea. Details here.
posted by Heminator at 10:36 AM on August 2, 2005

Have you ever been to Philadelphia? It can't be more expensive than DC. The National Acquarium and waterfront in Baltimore are fun, and you can take the water taxi around. Might hit some traffic going to either of these destinations though.
posted by lorrer at 10:42 AM on August 2, 2005

For the record I am an idiot. Read that post WAYYY too fast. You want to leave DC... Ahh. *Smacks Forehead*
posted by Heminator at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2005

Harper's Ferry.

posted by Pollomacho at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2005

amarynth wrote "A friend and I want to leave the Washington DC area..."

... so. I grew up in Charles Town, WV, considerably less than 3 - 4 hours away, but I have to say there's some beautiful country out there. I'd recommend Harper's Ferry for the relaxing and museums bit (it's a pretty fascinating little slice) and of course, West Virginia is famous for nature. "Look, honey, Nature! Right over there! No, really, I see it! Hand me the camera ..."

Whitewater rafting, or (lower budget) tubing is always fun. FWIW, I worked as a riverguide on that stretch of water in my youth for a slightly less-than-reputable company who shall remain nameless, and we were all horribly jealous of River Riders and their shiny new equipment, sterling, reputation, etc.

Then there's the Maryland Heights side of the river for some fantastic scenery and hiking. And if you do decide to go, please post lots of happy, idyllic pictures. I'm a bit homesick now.
posted by ZakDaddy at 10:55 AM on August 2, 2005

Now for a real suggestion:

Charlottesville. Great college town with a laid-back vibe, surrounding countryside is unbelivably picturesque horse country and Monticello is worth a visit.
posted by Heminator at 10:57 AM on August 2, 2005

...annnd Pollomacho beats me. Make that a second for Harper's Ferry. :)
posted by ZakDaddy at 10:57 AM on August 2, 2005

Smith Mountain Lake. And visit a number of the winery's in that area, like Chateau Morissette.
posted by jeanmari at 11:28 AM on August 2, 2005

Charlottesville + Shenadoah / Blue Ridge Parkway. Mountains and bears, or schools and old houses, or horses, or wineries.

Stop at the Bavarian Chef on 29 one direction or another. Yum.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:01 PM on August 2, 2005

Philadelphia. Big enough to keep you interested, small enough to actually get a feel for. Cheap as all get out. And (brace your self).... friendly.
posted by sgarst at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2005

If you don't have a car, it's pretty easy to get to Baltimore for the weekend. Take the MARC train Friday evening up to Baltimore, and then ride the last Light Rail train out of the city on Sunday (IIRC around 6:00 PM or so) to the airport, then take the B30 Metrobus back to Greenbelt.

And yes, I do know that Baltimore doesn't have a reputation as a weekend getaway, but my girlfriend and I enjoyed our time there. Little Italy was fun to wander around and eat lunch in, and the waterfront has plenty of things to see and do. Be sure to check the Baltimore City Paper events calendar to see what's going on this weekend.
posted by armage at 12:39 PM on August 2, 2005

2nding any trip that includes the Bavarian Chef (in Madison County, VA)
posted by john m at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2005

Might be too late to get a room in a lodge in Shenandoah National Park, but worth a try. If you can get a room they are pretty cheap, comparable to a weekend at the beach.

Ever been to Richmond? Some great museums, and restaurants, definitely within your budget.

I also second Smith Mountain Lake.

I would also reconsider Williamsburg, a lot has changed in the past couple of years, and there is always Jamestown/Yorktown... which are a must see for any history buff.
posted by mhaw at 1:08 PM on August 2, 2005

There are a ton of things to do in Richmond, VA. Check out Hollywood Cemetery and Maymont Park, catch a movie at the Byrd Theatre or go shopping in Carytown. Plenty of museums too. It's also not far from Kings Dominion, and you should have no problem finding lodging, being that it's a city and all.

This may be out of your 3 to 4 hour range, but I've heard the Virginia Safari Park is awesome.
posted by geeky at 1:24 PM on August 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

Longwood gardens
posted by sandking at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2005

Skyline Drive is beautiful year round, if you want to go for a nice drive. You can also camp there, and have cook outs and there are trails for hiking. It is only about an hour and 45 minute drive from DC to the entrance in Front Royal, VA. You will get to see wildlife up close including deer, bear, and racoons.

You could also check out the caverns in Front Royal and Luray VA.
posted by JennyJupiter at 4:33 PM on August 2, 2005

I have to say, Harper's Ferry is one of my favorite places. It's got everything: Civil War history, museums, antiquing and shops with plenty of window-shopping and artsy-craftsy/touristy stuff, the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, old churches and cemeteries, trainspotting, rafting, hiking (Maryland Heights is a climb, but the view can't be beat), bunches of restaurants ranging from walk-up window to sit-down linen-napkins, and a terrific ghost tour after dark (bottom of this page). This site seems to have a pretty complete listing for the area, and there's (relatively) cheap flops close by.
posted by steef at 5:11 PM on August 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

I'd go for Charlottesville (if you're really into Jefferson) or Lexington (if you're really into Civil War stuff). And VMI and Washington and Lee are in Lexington if you're interested in touring some historical colleges.

You should be able to find really cute B & B's in both those areas. Also, around Charlottesville there are a ton of vineyards that offer free tours and tastings.
posted by awegz at 5:46 PM on August 2, 2005

I'll second Baltimore or Philly as both terrific fun.
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:35 PM on August 2, 2005

Solomon's Island in Maryland.
posted by dsaelf at 10:15 AM on August 3, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! We feel spoiled for choice now. We're leaning toward either Harper's Ferry or Philly for this trip, but now we have lots of ideas for future weekends away.
posted by amarynth at 11:09 AM on August 3, 2005

Response by poster: So, we picked Harper's Ferry, and we had a great time tubing and walking around and spending way too much money shopping.

ZakDaddy, if you were serious about wanting to see pictures, you can find them here.
posted by amarynth at 7:14 AM on August 10, 2005

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