These 7 Airbnbs Are Perfect for Escaping DC This Holiday Season

From cozy cabins to sprawling country homes, gather the family and get out of town

October 9, 2020 2:50 pm
woolen mills house airbnb
Could this the the site of your next holiday getaway?

It’s hard to imagine, but last year more than 115 million people traveled over the holiday season — an all-time high since tracking by AAA began back in 2000. This year, things will no doubt look very different. The holidays are a stressful enough time on their own, before you add in the possibility of infecting a loved one with the coronavirus (or vice versa) while passionately discussing politics at the Thanksgiving table.

For this important reason, certain trends are already beginning to dominate the way people are traveling this holiday season. From keeping in-person celebrations within your nuclear family to getting together with the members of your quarantine “pod” or “bubble,” people are being more cautious about who they choose to string the Christmas lights with this year. More families are also planning staycations — opting for rental homes and resorts within a five-hour drive of their town or city. 

When you take a look at these trends and add it to the fact that Muriel Bowser just issued a Mayor’s Order extending the District’s public emergency and public health emergency and issue additional measures for Phase Two until December 31 of this year, you’ll pretty much have a guarantee that prime Airbnb listings for the holidays are going to be snatched up quickly.

Spacious, clean rental homes are a great way to get away from the noise of the city and spread out sans the fear of coming into close contact with others. The pandemic has also prompted rental website Airbnb to change its extenuating circumstances policy, allowing for easier cancellations up until January 19, 2021. 

So if you’re thinking about heading to your favorite vacation town for the holidays this year, try to avoid crowded streets and packed slopes. Opt instead to venture farther out of town, where you’ll probably snag a much grander property as well as the chance to reconnect with nature and close friends or family in a way that keeps you, and others, safe.

And before you start your drive over, be sure to stock your car with supplies — from the cleaning gear you’ll definitely need to the bottles of wine you know you’ll want — in order to avoid disrupting another town’s supply chain. Finally, regardless of where you and your party choose to head this winter, make sure to read the fine print before booking, and expect cancellations.

With all that in mind, we’ve taken the liberty of compiling seven rentals within driving distance of DC that are appropriately isolated, still have holiday season vacancies and offer enough room for at least four people. Plus: each home on our list comes equipped with a fireplace for roasting marshmallows. 

Whistlepunk house
Not a punk house — a Whistlepunk house.

A slopeside alpine villa at Whistlepunk

Ski and snowboarders couldn’t find a better rental if they tried, as this one is located directly on the slopes of Snowshoe Mountain. The listing even asks potential guests to “imagine being so close to the slopes that you can talk to skiers as they pass the deck.” The interior of the villa is cozy and modern, happily lacking the kitschy stuffiness of many ski-friendly cabin stays, and a wood-burning fireplace and onsite ski and board storage means you’ll never have a need to leave save for your time on the slopes. 

This rental is perfect for: a group of friends or active family that have been itching to get away from the city. Snowshoe Mountain is located at the second highest peak in West Virginia and ensures the most snow in the region, so pack up the car with snowboards, Clorox wipes and a bottle of some good scotch and you’ve got yourself a perfect holiday ski weekend. 

Cabin interior
Does it get much cozier than this?

A cozy lakeside cabin by Harper’s Ferry

Stay for a good time, and a long time at this rustic cabin that’s equipped with a surprisingly fast wifi connection. A wood burning fireplace, epic lake views and covered patio make it a great place to escape for the holiday season, and those who might want to venture into charming, nearby Harper’s Ferry will find it only a 15 minute drive away. 

This rental is perfect for: A big family that wants some peace, quiet and nature in their lives. The enclosed patio/sunroom provides a scenic spot for serving a low key holiday meal, and a deckside hot tub gives parents a warm place to relax with a bottle of wine after putting the kids to sleep. 

In this loft, you can enjoy all mod cons while listening to “All Mod Cons.”

A luxurious restored loft in Old Town Alexandria

When historic Old Town Alexandria mixes with a converted warehouse built back in 1818—what do you get? Not what you’d expect. This multi-level home is full of surprises for such an old building, like tastefully modern decor and a bleached timber framework. Ample natural light, cozy seating nooks and close proximity to the waterfront make it even better.

This rental is perfect for: A couple seeking a holiday season getaway. Whether you plan on spending an intimate Thanksgiving together or just want a quick change of scenery, Alexandria is only a half hour drive from the city but can feel like a whole world away. It’s colonial style architecture, cobblestone streets and picturesque waterfront are only made more romantic once the snow starts to fall.

A-frame house
The apex of A-frames?

A charming A-frame in Lancaster

We have to admit that we’re suckers for A-frame style homes, but this one is particularly enticing. If you’re looking for a peaceful holiday getaway there is quite literally nowhere better than Amish country, which this home is smack dab in the middle of. Add in a charming front porch and a fire pit and you’ve got a recipe for an actually restful holiday. 

This rental is perfect for: A family looking for the perfect balance between peace and quiet and wintertime activities. Once you’re ready to venture out of your rental home, there’s miles of scenic farmland and fresh air to take in, a historic downtown to explore with locally owned bakeries and snow tubing for the kids—you’ll basically feel like you’ve stepped into your very own Christmas movie. 

Woolen Mills mansion
Amazing design at work.

A modern mansion in Charlottesville

This splurge-worthy home is seriously one of a kind. Featuring a 75 foot long saltwater pool, it’s the modern interpretation of a luxury cabin—complete with a designer touches and the kind of bathroom you just want to live in. Located in the historic neighborhood of Woolen Mills on a hilltop overlooking Charlottesville, it feels removed enough that you’re able to relax, but not so far away from civilization that you’ll find a need to panic if you run out of something essential.

This rental is perfect for: Families or a medium group of friends who appreciate a good aesthetic. A spacious living room that doubles as a modern library with a fireplace makes for the ideal spot for family game nights or toasty hang outs with mulled wine. Those who haven’t finished their Christmas shopping can head into charming downtown Charlottesville to patron local businesses. 

Mountain life
Nestled in the mountains.

A mountain getaway right by Wintergreen

Want to spend Christmas in the mountains relaxing and skiing? Of course you do. This large home with perfect five star reviews is big enough to bring the whole gang to, full of charming rustic details that are somehow far from cheesy. A super spacious living area makes for the perfect for location for unwrapping presents. 

This rental is perfect for: The whole family looking to spend Christmas away from home (but not too far away). A three hour drive away from DC, Wintergreen is ideal for skiers and snowboarders of any level—complete with two terrain parks, tubing and two high-speed lifts to help maximize your slope time. Families looking to bond but who might not want to spend all of their holiday break indoors should just book this one now.

Firehouse interior
From historic firehouse to high-end lodging.

The staycation of a lifetime in a historic firehouse

Those looking to get out of their apartment but who don’t feel the need to venture outside the city might want to consider what could be the most unique holiday stay of their lifetime at a historic converted firehouse right in Shaw. The firehouse, which was built in 1884, actually housed the first fully African American fire company in DC and sleeps 14 guests.

This rental is perfect for: A large group of friends who need to escape their tiny apartments for something way better this holiday season. Wrangle together your trusted pod for an in-city holiday celebration (but not a party) at the firehouse, which is complete with a retro fire wagon in the driveway, the most stylishly manly living room in the city and tons of historic artifacts to ogle over during your stay. 

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