Car-free vacations in the Mid-Atlantic?
June 28, 2021 8:49 AM   Subscribe

We live in DC and are interested in putting together a list of train/transit accessible vacation spots in the region.

Especially looking for those that are kid friendly and will let us get out on the water in some way.
posted by ryanshepard to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
It's two trains, and probably longer than you want, but Amtrak DC -> Philadelphia nj transit-> Atlantic city will get you to the beach via train.
posted by TheAdamist at 9:22 AM on June 28, 2021

Amtrak from D.C. to Richmond, which has a great kids museium near the train station, and also has a bus from downtown to Kings Dominion.
posted by skewed at 9:42 AM on June 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Amtrak to Colonial Williamsburg. Break up the colonial experience by taking local public transport to nearby beaches like Jamestown Beach.
posted by nantucket at 9:52 AM on June 28, 2021 [2 favorites]

You can get a bus to Mt. Vernon. You can also get a bus to Alexandria and then a 3 hour boat ride to Mt. Vernon. (oh looks like they depart from DC as well Boat.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2021

You can get to Harpers Ferry on the train, and there seems to be flat water tubing somewhere nearby in addition to the white water I knew about before googling just now.

But as a fellow non-car-owner in DC, I feel I should ask if you are opposed to renting a car. My wife and I often end up realizing that just renting a car here and driving [wherever] won't cost much more than two train tickets to the same place and will solve the last mile problem for us once we get there. If nothing else I always think it's worth costing both options out, although this year in particular is a bad one for rental cars.
posted by fedward at 9:53 AM on June 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: You can take Amtrak from DC to Williamsburg, VA - Colonial Williamsburg is close to the train station and kid-friendly, plus there are various other attractions (Busch Gardens, Great Wolf Lodge, historic Jamestown) that are further from the station but at least theoretically accessible via the local bus system or of course accessible by cab/uber.

You can continue on to Virginia Beach (changing to an Amtrak "thruway" bus at Newport News or Norfolk - the Amtrak stop appears to be two blocks from the beach).
posted by mskyle at 9:55 AM on June 28, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: How far is "the region"? Amtrak recently added an overnight sleeper train to Boston.
posted by flicken at 9:56 AM on June 28, 2021 [4 favorites]

Amtrak or Boltbus gets you to NYC in a few hours. And then you can ride the ferry!

You could take the MARC to Fredrick and camp at Calico Rocks. Or up to Havre de Grace.

You can take a MTA bus to Annapolis.

I was surprised to find that Amtrak connects DC to Ohiopyle State Park but there you go. There are lot of destinations on the Capitol Limited.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:19 AM on June 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just to clarify: we have a car, but are moving toward getting rid of it, and thinking ahead.
posted by ryanshepard at 10:32 AM on June 28, 2021

Best answer: +1 to the Capitol Limited if you are at all into cycling. Stops at Harpers Ferry, Cumberland, Connellsville and Pittsburgh all convenient to the GAP/C&O trails. If you plan (several months) ahead you can even pack your bike.
posted by Press Butt.on to Check at 10:39 AM on June 28, 2021

The Vermonter!
posted by ReluctantViking at 12:08 PM on June 28, 2021

You can take a bus to Annopolis and get a ride oh a schooner. I dont know about local transportation between bus and boat.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:44 AM on June 29, 2021

It appears that Amtrak has stops in Mystic, CT a few times a day. There is the Seaport and an Aquarium. And boat rides. With local transportation of taxi or Uber, you can get to nearby beaches in Groton.

You may be able to find more convenient times using the Shore Line East trans that run from New Haven to Westerly, RI. The RI shore from Westerly eastward is a prime beach area. Also an area to consider for a golf vacation, by the way.

Just by the way, I think you can go the whole way from DC to Westerly, and maybe even to Boston, on commuter trains. You don't want to, of course because it would be very slow and annoying with many changes of train and connections to make, but they do make stops Amtrak doesn't.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:35 AM on June 29, 2021 [1 favorite]

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