The iconic city of Baltimore, Maryland is surrounded by plentiful small towns and communities that are accessible with just a few hours’ worth of driving. Picture yourself floating down the river in Farmville, Virginia; snapping pictures of awesome waterfalls in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania; or picking your own berries on a farm in Finleyville, Pennsylvania. Most of these family-friendly activities and attractions are situated near many Baltimore vacation rentals. Choose a great weekend getaway destination in proximity to Baltimore.

1. Thurmont, Maryland

rocky overlook above the trees

A 1.2-hour drive 67 miles west on I-70 puts you in Thurmont, the northern Maryland town called “The Gateway to the Mountains.” Positioned at the base of the scenic Catoctin Mountains, this charming historic town hosts Cunningham Falls State Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, which features spectacular views including Chimney Rock. The latter park is also home to Camp David, the famous location for presidential getaways from the White House. Take the kids to the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo for the Safari Ride, and let them touch the animals. In autumn, join more than 140,000 visitors attending the area’s premier arts and crafts festival, Catoctin Colorfest. For a less populated activity, tour Catoctin Mountain Orchard, pick apples, blueberries, and other fresh seasonal fruit, and shop for delectable jams and pies. Rent bicycles from The Bicycle Escape and ride through the village of Catoctin Furnace, which played a vital role in the Revolutionary War.

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2. Vienna, Maryland

floating docks on Vienna marina
Source: Flickr/snowplower

Drive about 100 miles southeast from Baltimore and arrive at another gateway, Vienna, Maryland, in less than two hours. This “Gateway to the Nanticoke” sits on high ground in the heart of the Nanticoke River Watershed, providing a tranquil setting for weekends by the river’s shore. Stop at Millie’s Road House Bar and Grill, pick up a picnic dinner of crab cake sandwiches and sides, go to Waterfront South, and watch the sunset. During the day, walk the trails and wide-open spaces of Layton’s Chance Vineyard and Winery, and select a bottle to savor at your Maryland vacation rental after putting the kids to bed. View fascinating displays of regional history at Handsell, featuring replicas of Native American dwellings and a plantation house from the 1700s. During festivals like the Nanticoke River Jamboree, reenactments of Native American and African American events make history come alive. Enjoy more scenic river and marsh perspectives at A Tavern House, a restored colonial home, before you head home.

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3. Hampstead, Maryland

fresh fruits and flowers

Pack a bag for a 45-minute getaway on I-695 West to Hampstead, Maryland. Just 35 miles from Baltimore, this friendly town full of family-owned restaurants and shops is a slice of Americana. Stroll down S. Main Street eating a cone filled with fresh homemade ice cream from JJ Hoffman’s Creamery. Savor award-winning crab cakes at Greenmount Station, or enjoy Fortune Inn’s full range of Chinese foods for taking out or dining in. Cruise the Carmel Cottage Antiques Store for a special vintage or antique piece. On Saturdays in late spring to early fall, don’t miss the Hampstead Farmer’s Market, offering locally sourced vegetables, meats, and items like goat’s milk soap and emu body lotion. When you’re ready to break from eating and shopping, go horseback trail riding at Happy on Hooves.

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4. Finleyville, Pennsylvania

pond on the golf course

Leave Baltimore on I-68 West, travel 237 miles, and cruise into Finleyville, Pennsylvania, in just under four hours. Pick your own berries and talk to the animals at Trax Farms during the day, or play a round at Scenic Valley Golf Course, a par 72 public course featuring water challenges on the front and back nine. Budding astronomers check out Mingo Creek Park Observatory’s schedule of Star Parties, where visitors gaze into the night sky through two powerful telescopes. Hungry? Stop at DaBuzi’s, locally famous for its Southwestern meatball hoagies, Sweet Chili Habanero wings, and excellent pizza.

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5. Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

small waterfall

Put your best camera in the car and drive from Baltimore to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania, a three-hour, 194-mile trip via I-70 West. It’s worth the trip to see Fallingwater, the captivating residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and the spectacular Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park, popular for kayaking and whitewater rafting. Before you go, pack a picnic lunch of succulent roast beef or crispy veggie sandwiches and doughnuts from Ohio Bakery and Sandwich Shop. If you’re into kayaking or want to learn, Ohiopyle Trading Post & River Tours offer equipment rentals, mini-lessons, and full-day lessons including gear, a shuttle, and lunch. Curb your dinner appetite with stromboli or hand-tossed pepperoni pizza at Paddlers Pizza, and order extra pizza to take out for late-night snacking at your Pennsylvania vacation rental.

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6. Kilmarnock, Virginia

lighted Christmas display

Kilmarnock, Virginia, is a little more than three hours south of Baltimore, about 153 miles via the Baltimore Washington Parkway to I-95 South/I-495 South. Tour the Steamboat Era Museum, containing models, artifacts, and interactive displays of the state’s glamorous steamboat years. The oldest house in town is home to the Kilmarnock Museum, which recounts local history including the connection with Kilmarnock, Scotland. When you’re full of history and crave something sweet, fill up with a large cone of scrumptious homemade soft serve ice cream from Stevie’s Ice Cream.

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7. Farmville, Virginia

snowy scenery at High Bridge Trail State Park

Drive 214 miles via I-95 South from Baltimore to reach Farmville, Virginia, in about 3.5 hours. Unwind with a guided tour or a leisurely float down the Appomattox River into downtown Farmville. Rent a kayak and gear from Sandy River Outdoor Adventures. If you prefer activity on solid ground, rent bikes there and head for High Bridge Trail State Park. When it’s time to eat, Walker’s Diner covers breakfast and lunch. Enjoy home-cooked comfort foods including hearty beef vegetable soup and grilled cheese sandwiches, and desserts like fresh blueberry pie topped with vanilla ice cream. At The Fishin’ Pig, another local favorite, fill up on catfish, old-fashioned mac and cheese, and cole slaw, or a barbeque platter and spicy jalapeno cornbread before returning to Charm City.

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