Travel | June 28, 2022 7:15 am

Need a Break From DC? Consider These One-Tank Weekend Getaways

From gardens and art museums to happy hour cruises — no refuel required

Potomac River with view of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Potomac River with view of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
mbell via Getty

On one hand: a terrible and pressing need to get out of town for a few days. On the other: a car that sadly refuses to run on any viscous liquid that costs under roughly $5 a gallon. 

With these twin considerations in mind, we gathered up five  trips that shouldn’t require more than a single tank of gas — they’re all within about 150 miles of the DC. Roundtrip is 300, which means you’ll even have some fuel to spare.  

Dive into our full list below and plan your next weekend getaway.

Looking up the hill at the State Capitol building of Virginia.
Looking up the hill at the State Capitol building of Virginia.
Sky Noir Photography by Bill Dickinson via Getty

Richmond, VA

Virginia’s capital city offers more than history: With a dynamic food and beverage scene, one could easily bar hop all around W Broad Street, hitting brewery after brewery. These are all best enjoyed after sampling the city’s thriving art scene — begin your tour at the Crossroads Art Center, which is currently hosting a juried show at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. And if that doesn’t offer enough greenery, continue on to Maymont, a 100-acre historical estate and garden. 

Fog hovering over Shenandoah valley, Virginia, USA
Fog hovering over Shenandoah valley, Virginia, USA
Hal Chen / 500px via Getty

Luray, VA

There are plenty of kitschy things to do in Luray — the famous Luray Caverns are certainly the city’s main attraction — but those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of DC will likely appreciate the town’s decidedly low-key nature. Luray’s walk-friendly downtown area features plenty of shops and tasty local spots. Its proximity to majestic Shenandoah National Park makes for great day hikes or even an overnighter; Skyline Drive is well worth a, well, drive for its overwhelming beauty and scenic vistas. 

USA, Delaware, Wilmington skyline on the Christina River, dusk.
USA, Delaware, Wilmington skyline on the Christina River, dusk.
Walter Bibikow via Getty

Wilmington, DE

President Biden’s hometown evokes a sense of old-town Alexandria thanks to its extensive waterfront, but there’s plenty to do even if they may seem familiar, with no shortage of museums, restaurants, water-based activities, gardens and more. The Delaware Art Museum has a great collection along with solid exhibitions, including one on through the summer on “The Indigenous Faces of Wilmington.”  If you’re craving a Union Market-like experience, the DE.CO food hall offers live music on Thursday evenings and features pizza, Southern-style eats, sushi, and more. Bonus: the Longwood Gardens are worth the trek over the border into Pennsylvania — the stunning, 1,000-acre landscape is a must-see.

Historic town of Harpers Ferry West Virginia viewed from Maryland Heights
Historic town of Harpers Ferry West Virginia viewed from Maryland Heights
mbell via Getty

Harper’s Ferry, WV

Not unlike Richmond, Harper’s Ferry has made a name for itself through its history-rich attractions, making it well-suited to families looking to get out of town and learn a bit along the way. But the area surrounding the chronicled downtown offers tons of scenic trails for those who want to get out and go for a walk. Hikes around the Maryland Heights trail offer plenty of stunning vistas, and Potomac River has plenty of room and excitement to make tubing or whitewater rafting/kayaking a blast. Those really looking to get their steps in can venture onto the West Virginia portion of the Appalachian Trail. And if you’re the spooky type, the town has plenty of nightly ghost tours.

This screwpile cottage-style lighthouse was originally built in 1879 on Tangier Sound, on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay.
This screwpile cottage-style lighthouse was originally built in 1879 on Tangier Sound, on the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay.
wbritten via Getty

St. Michaels, MD

Located on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, the seaside town of St. Michaels offers plenty of excitement for sea and land lovers alike; the stunning harbor scene gives way to lots of outdoor activities, including your pick of water sports, biking and walking trails, and more. St. Michaels is no slouch when it comes to its food scene, either; the town is overflowing with great seafood options and even features a local rum distillery: Lyon Rum.  Those looking for a slightly different take on museums will certainly want to visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, which includes a restored lighthouse, rotating exhibits, and more boats and ships than you could possibly imagine. And just south along Route 50, you’ll find the newly opened Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park

Fishing pier at sunset, Ocean City, Maryland
Fishing pier at sunset, Ocean City, Maryland
aimintang via Getty

Ocean City, MD

If you’d rather indulge in some shenanigans, you can quite literally go to Shenanigans in Ocean City. If you’re making the trek down to the East Coast OC, you’re likely there to get your party on down on the boardwalk itself. But if you do decide to venture off the boardwalk, Northside Park offers an extensive recreational area for picnics or long walks off the beach. And if you’re headed out on the water, there’s tons to choose from: parasailing, sunset cruises, happy-hours-on-a-boat and even tours exploring Assateague Island — which, if you’re lucky, might give you a look at the ponies.