good stops on the way to DC?
January 31, 2014 2:17 PM   Subscribe

I'm planning a road trip from Bloomington Indiana to Washington DC toward the end of March. Will be traveling with a 4 years old and am looking for some suggestions of places to stop along the way.

This is the route I am considering using. It passes through Monticello on the way there, and Harpers Ferry on the way back.

Also open to any great suggestions for Washington DC! We will be visiting the National Zoo and some of Smithsonian museums.
posted by steinwald to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
A small modification to your journey allows you to take Skyline Drive, a gorgeous route through Shenandoah National Park. The leaves aren't changing or anything in March but it will still be scenic as hell.
posted by troika at 2:31 PM on January 31, 2014 [4 favorites]

Louisville and Lexington, KY are both lovely and worth at least a pitstop. Definitely make a point to visit Lexington, VA, too -- Natural Bridge and the VA Animal Safari are to amazing.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:35 PM on January 31, 2014

When you visit the Smithsonian, your 4 year old might enjoy the Natural History Museum's Butterfly Pavilion (get your tickets in advance, it's popular).
posted by troika at 2:37 PM on January 31, 2014

If your 4 year-old will be five in time to meet the minimum age restriction, get up close and personal with lemurs and red pandas at the Good Zoo in Wheeling, WV. (I've always wanted to do this but have never been to that area!)
posted by theraflu at 2:40 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Good Zoo looks amazing! Unfortunately she is just turning 4.
posted by steinwald at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2014

The statehouse in Charleston is among the most beautiful in the nation — designed by Cass Gilbert, who also did the Supreme Court Building. It sits on a large plaza that will be fun for a four year old to run around in.

The statehouse in Columbus is also worth a look.
posted by ubiquity at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2014

Oh, and if you accept troika's suggestion for the Skyline Drive (which I second), you'll be quite near the Luray Caverns, which ought to seem amazing to a four year old.
posted by ubiquity at 2:48 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Beartown State Park and New River Gorge in West Virginia are neat. Does your kid like being outside and taking little walks? End of March, you might have to hike up a bit, but I remember it as not being more than a mile and the rocks are really neat. It can still be chilly, as the sun doesn't get down between the rocks and the ice is slow to melt, but there's a boardwalk and it's not too bad. New River Gorge is probably less exciting for a kid but it's the default destination around there.

COSI, the science museum in Columbus has an excellent children's room for running around. I prefer it to Wonderlab. Not too near there is Jason's Deli, but if you eat in at Jason's Deli you get free ice cream. The rest of Ohio is kind of dull but we've had good luck with just looking for the nearest playground whenever we need to get off the road.

The Good Zoo is fantastic, especially for this age - it's just big enough to see all of it without getting too tired, you get very close to the animals, we often drive there instead of going to the closer Big City zoo.
posted by arabelladragon at 3:01 PM on January 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

Check out Roadside America for fun attractions along your route. Whenever someone asks about attractions in DC, I am committed to recommending the National Building Museum. Check out the Building Zone.
posted by Rob Rockets at 3:54 PM on January 31, 2014

If you're up for Luray Caverns and Skyline Drive then your daughter, and you, will probably want to visit Dinosaur Land. What is better than giant fiberglass dinosaurs? Perhaps running around giant ears of corn such as at the Field of Corn in Dublin, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus.

Lexington, Virginia mentioned above might be a bit out of your way but it also has Foamhenge, a replica of Stonehenge made out of styrofoam. It's good for a 15-minute stop.

It will slow you down quite a bit but driving on US 60 or 50 across West Virginia, with all their hills and hairpin turns, is much more interesting than the interstate. If you're on 60, Lewisburg, WV is a really nice little town and the home of Lost World Caverns.
posted by plastic_animals at 6:47 PM on January 31, 2014

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