Celebrate the weekend by embarking on a getaway. While many Washington, D.C. vacation rentals are conveniently located near numerous exciting attractions and activities, sometimes you might want to take a break from the big city. Explore the charming towns and communities of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia. From kayaking across a tranquil pond to riding an aerial tram, there’s an adventure awaiting you in each of these places surrounding Washington, D.C.

1. Milton, Delaware

waples pond
Source: Flickr/Michele Dorsey Walfred

The scenic two-hour drive from D.C. to Milton, Delaware, takes you through Maryland, across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, and over Kent Island. Milton Memorial Park hosts a full-sized statue of John Milton, the English poet, dressed in seasonal attire. Small shops feature local arts, crafts, and antiques. Look for a lot of everything at the Mercantile at Milton, where many booth owners gather under one roof to display their merchandise. Dogfish Head Brewery serves up American cuisine along with its craft ales. Take the kids for some fresh air at Prime Hook Wildlife Refuge, and get a closer look at nature along the trails or enjoy kayaking on one of the two large ponds.

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2. Front Royal, Virginia

front royal cherry blossoms
Source: Flickr/Jason Riedy

Relax and recharge in historic Front Royal Virginia, incorporated in 1788. Located about an hour from Washington, D.C., the town is the gateway to Skyline Drive, which meanders through Shenandoah National Park. Numerous overlooks and trails dot the 105.5-mile drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains. Join a guided canoe trip along the Shenandoah River with Front Royal Canoe Company, or set out for a sightseeing trail ride with Royal Horseshoe Farm. Be sure to try the apple fritters when you stop at the Apple House Restaurant and Gift Shop, and head over to the PaveMint Taphouse and Grill for comfort food, craft beers, and boozy milkshakes.

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3. Occoquan, Virginia

laurel hill
Source: Flickr/Joseph Nicolia

Your duffel bags and the kids are all you need for a weekend getaway in Occoquan, Virginia, a sleepy little riverside town located about 40 minutes from Washington D.C. More than 100 shops and eateries grace the historic town square that encompasses only six blocks. Enjoy a relaxing stroll along the brick streets in the evening when the old-fashioned gaslights shed their soft glow to light your way. Browse for jewelry, art, or gourmet treats. Stop by Madigan’s, or lunch by the river’s edge before heading over to the Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe for a wine tasting. At dinner time, the Cock & Bowl serves up Belgian fare with an impressive variety of Belgian brews.

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4. Hinton, West Virginia

bluestone state park
Source: https://wvstateparks.com/park/bluestone-state-park/

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of southern West Virginia, Hinton is home to Bluestone State Park. Take your pick of hiking, boating, fishing, or swimming. Railroad buffs enjoy the real artifacts and docent stories at the Hinton Railroad Museum. Do it all, or drive along the country roads to take in the breathtaking scenery. Just 10 minutes from Bluestone Lake, Pipestem State Park features several dining options, including the Mountain Creek Dining Room. The only way to reach this riverside restaurant is to ride the park’s aerial tramway. To pick up a quick bite, stop by Kirk’s or the Market on Court House Square. This mountain paradise awaits you just under five hours from Washington, D.C.

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5. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

harpers ferry park bridge

After driving just over an hour to get off the beaten path, park the car at your Harpers Ferry vacation rental, and forget about it. Part of the Appalachian Trail runs through the town, and crosses the Potomac River. The pedestrian bridge connects the trail from West Virginia to Maryland. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters includes brochures, maps, and literature about the history and geography of the trail. For family members who would rather float or fly than go hiking, take them to River Riders. Rent kayaks for an exciting water adventure, or go to the zip line park. When the crew works up an appetite, the Potomac Grille dishes up American cuisine.

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6. Thurmont, Maryland

maryland creek
Source: Flickr/Mike Procario

Exchange the noise and city lights for a weekend in the quiet surroundings of Thurmont, Maryland. Just an hour from Washington, the backdrop of the rolling hills of the Catoctin Mountains sets the scene for outdoor adventures, shopping, and relaxing at will. Stroll along Main Street, taking in the delightful murals, browsing the quaint little shops, tasting local produce, and dining in local eateries. Touch and feed animals on the safari tour at the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve and Zoo or visit the exhibits on your own. Catoctin Mountain Park features several hiking trails at a variety of levels. A quick stop at the Visitor’s Center to get a map makes the visit so much more enjoyable. Catoctin Breeze Vineyard’s wine tastings feature a sampling of several select wines. Feel free to enjoy a picnic in the designated picnic area.

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7. Woodstock, Virginia

muse vineyards
Source: http://www.musevineyards.com

Instead of spending your weekend on the road, a drive of just over an hour from D.C. gives you more time in Woodstock, Virginia. Several unique shops along Main Street carry home decor, arts and crafts, and antiques, including Three French Hens, Spring Hollow Antiques, and Valley Treasures. Woodstock’s outstanding feature is the Woodstock Tower, which entails a drive up a mountain road and a short walk. Upon climbing the three flights of steps, you get amazing views of the breathtaking Shenandoah Valley. The Woodstock Brewhouse makes a great place to take your family for a leisurely meal. The drink selections include several micro brews, tea, coffee, and soft drinks. The place to go for burgers and steaks is the Spring House Tavern. Before returning home, head over to the tasting room at Muse Vineyards to select your favorites.

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