D.C.’s a pretty great city all in itself. But come election season, it often becomes a flurry of utter chaos and catastrophe— a place to steer clear from rather than venture towards. This past presidential race showed just that, as Democrats and Republicans took to Washington’s streets for the past several months madly battling it out to take over the Oval Office. Now that POTUS has been chosen, the excitement’s only just begun, as the entire town will be gearing up for Inauguration festivities and all the hoopla that surrounds it. So if you’re looking for a necessary change of pace from the political jungle this January that’s still close enough to all that D.C. drama in case you want to come back if needed, head on out to some of the area’s most convenient getaways situated all within driving’s distance from our nation’s headquarters.
From seaside towns and hiker’s paradise to gastronomic delights and historical adventures, here are five escapes from Washington D.C. for the Inauguration.
Get Away From D.C. For The Inauguration In These 5 Great Places
1. Eastern Shore
Stretching from Maryland to Virginia, there are a string of spectacular beach spots along the seashore each possessing their own distinct culture—it’s been dubbed by travelers as the "Eastern Shore"—or the eastern side of the Chesapeake Bay-- and is fully characterized by quaint historic towns, beautiful ocean views, and lush natural areas. Popular to visit any time of year, there are many towns in the area just far enough away from D.C. to help you forget about those election blues. Try Chestertown, Cambridge, or Assateague Island in Maryland.
There’s also Ocean City for those looking for something a bit raunchier, as well as Chincoteague Island, Tangier Island, and St. Michaels in Maryland, which happens to be only an under two-hour drive from our nation’s capital. This former shipbuilding center remains one of the region's premier leisure-time destinations and has an ever-growing array of shops, cafés, waterfront restaurants, and inns. Snack on Blue Bay mussels at Purser’s Pub or crabs at The Crab Claw before lurking around Talbot Street and resting at The Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond. It’s where the movie Wedding Crashers was filmed!
The Old Dominion State is one of those places offering tons to get away to for D.C. natives wanting desperately to dodge all things politics. Try Charlottesville, an under three-hour drive from the city—it’s a cozy cool town that’s part-historic and part-hospitality. It’s also a stellar starting point to check out some of Virginia’s best wineries, as well as a top space to find cheap eats thanks to its college-town status. Make sure to take on the Monticello Wine Trail, which features over twenty wineries, or to head over to the town of Sperryville, Virginia to access the Skyline Drive and Shenandoah National Park. You’ll even find small-town charm within this former farm village with a stay at Hopkins Ordinary, a food-centric B&B or The Inn at Little Washington.
Also in the state is a chance to step back in time and into American history by exploring Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living history museum that encompasses over three-hundred acres of restored, reconstructed, and historically-furnished buildings. Learn how America got to where it is today in a super interactive setting.
A superb spot to visit for any sort of weekend getaway, this Maryland favorite is extremely close to the big city but allows visitors to stroll along a city dock all while enjoying shopping, dining, and beautiful scenery galore within the sailing capital of the United States. Take a sightseeing cruise with your sweetie or a walking tour to learn about the history of the surrounding seaport. The area is home to the United States Naval Academy and St. John's College, so you’re bound to have tons of nautical fun.
Sail and boat to your hearts content before hopping on a water taxi to Eastport for some farm-to-table pizza. Or maybe opt for really fine dining with some creamy black truffle-lobster risotto at the city's most talked about restaurant, Metropolitan. Then cap it off with a stay at the Historic Inns of Annapolis, a trio of storied houses, and or by embarking on a fabulous food-and-history tour courtesy of Capital City Colonials.
4. Old Town Alexandria
It’s a quiet, quaint, and extremely historic town that’s an equally fun place to explore. Located just six miles south of downtown D.C., easily escape the urban jungle of our nation's capital in the third oldest historic district of the United States. The storied spot houses more than 4,200 historic buildings dating all the way back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with top attractions including the George Washington Masonic Memorial, the Torpedo Factory Art Center, and Fort Ward Museum and Park.
Make sure to make a trip down King Street-- the main thoroughfare of Old Town Alexandria—to fully experience this Potomac River beauty. George Washington himself even called it home sweet home, and today, the cobblestone streets and red brick sidewalks of this age-old spot continues to attract travelers far and wide. There really is no doubt as to why.
5. Brandywine Valley
Less than a couple hours from D.C., you’ll get the chance to discover unique museums and gardens that all make for a close-to-home weekend getaway without the hassles and expenses of air travel. Located north of Wilmington, Delaware in southeastern Chester County, this countryside favorite is truly a year-round jewel, offering loads of amazingly unspoiled scenery reminiscent of the rolling hills and idyllic vistas found in the French countryside. Make sure to check out the world famous Longwood Gardens—it’s one of the most beautiful drives in all of America and is a 1,050-acre treasure of gardens, woodlands, and meadows. Other key attractions would be the Hagley Museum, Winterthur Museum, and Nemours Mansion and Gardens.
Oh, and for the shoppers out there, find antiques aplenty any time of year, especially at Baldwin's Book Barn on Lenape Road. Foodies will also delight in specialties like the fresh mushrooms grown locally in Kennett Square, the "Mushroom Capital of the World,” the array of submarine "sub" sandwich options in town, or those tasty Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs.
This article was written by Pamela Chan.
Photo of Old Town Alexandria: Flickr