Six Outdoor Getaways Near DC That Feel an Entire World Away
From campgrounds to cabins to beaches, these are the perfect destinations for getting back out there this summer
The problem with getting away these days is that even as the public health implications of travel have rapidly improved, the interpersonal demands on, say, a plane-load full of people, seem to be higher — and worse — than ever. Imagine if everyone on line at your grocery store was suddenly stuck in a soup can hurtling through the sky, and you have the vibe of late-pandemic trip-making.
We say: Forget that. Instead, we’ve collected a half-dozen excellent, nature-centric escapes within easy access of home. Fewer people, fewer acts of unexpected aggression over whose turn it was to use the shared bathroom, and a level of peace and quiet few of us have experienced over the past 15 months.
This gorgeous wooded campground nestled up against the Appalachian Trail is the perfect secluded spot for camping, hiking, river rafting, and more. And we love that The Treehouse Camp has taken extra precautions to keep visitors safe, operating at limited capacity and keeping group sizes to 10, tops. With unique lodging options including cozy Tree Cottages, tent sites, the two-story FireFly Tree House, or the one-of-a-kind Hobbit House (each complete with its own outdoor fire circle), there’s something here for everyone.
Located within Montgomery County’s Agricultural Reserve, Button Farm is a small working farm (complete with a flock of friendly geese, chickens, and an heirloom garden) that’s a suitable jumping-off point for exploring Seneca Creek State Park’s 20+ miles of trails. Host Steven provides guests with a portable toilet, picnic tables, and a fire ring; firewood bundles are available for an additional $10.
No car? No problem! If you’re willing to trade a Dallas-size spread for accessibility, consider a wooded campsites at Greenbelt Park, boasting a bathhouse with hot showers, nine miles of hiking trails, picnic areas… and easy access from Greenbelt station via bus.
If you’re more of a glamper than a camper, this gorgeous, reclaimed timber cottage is the best of both worlds. This ultra-rural abode offers both indoor and outdoor shower facilities; the loft-style bedroom is the perfect cozy hideaway that’s far better for your back than a sleeping bag on the forest floor. Use this home away from home as a base for exploring Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, or just perch on the private deck overlooking miles of forest and see if you can glimpse a bald eagle in the distance.
The seashore views of Assateague Island are a true breath of fresh air for anyone looking to slip away from the city for a night or two. Be sure to book in advance to nab a much coveted spot to enjoy a beach bonfire and glimpse the wild ponies. The campgrounds here are divided along State and National Park lines; the state park side offers hot showers, flushing toilets, and electric sites; the national park side is a bit lower-frills and less expensive, but it’s also far less crowded (and thus extremely desirable). Also, ponies, and if your kids haven’t seen them yet, expect this to kick off a solid few months of stories about that one palomino.
Does it still count as camping if there’s an on-site restaurant with an award-winning wine list? We like to think so, and so does Savage River Lodge, which boasts 18 private cabins and eight 30-foot yurts nestled within the forest. Each dwelling boasts a king- or queen-sized bed; the yurts also have their own private decks and fireplaces. The restaurant takes full advantage of its wood-fired brick oven to turn out delicious New American comfort food dishes like wild game meatloaf or vegan stuffed roast acorn squash. Choose a wine from the Wine Enthusiast-approved wine list, and let your worries float into oblivion.
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