Hikes, beaches, gardens: Outdoor day trips for warmer weather

Media Credit: Phebe Grosser | Staff Photographer

Brookside Gardens, a 50-acre display garden in Wheaton, Maryland, is about a 20-minute walk from the Glenmont Metro station.

If you’re feeling cooped up in your apartment, escape for a day trip or weekend in the DMV.

Most people are traveling close to home to stay safe during the pandemic, and there are plenty of activities around the District to feel like you’re away from home. Whether by Metro, Zipcar or Amtrak, a trip to a few nearby spots around the DMV is quick.

Here are six places in D.C., Maryland and Virginia that you could plan for a day trip or weekend getaway as the days get longer and warmer:

Gunpowder Falls State Park – Central Area

Gunpowder Falls State Park covers more than 18,000 acres in Harford and Baltimore counties and is broken into six non-contiguous areas. Central Area, the oldest area of the park, offers trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking. It also encompasses Jerusalem Mill Village, an 18th-century town made up of a mill and its workers’ housing and businesses. If you want to stay the night, check out these nearby hotels. 

Kingsville, Maryland, 75-minute drive from D.C. Admission is $3 for Maryland residents and $5 for non-Maryland residents. Find more information on its website.

Colonial Beach

Escape the city feel of D.C. by heading to Colonial Beach and its surrounding, eponymous town. You can explore outdoor activities like kayaking, paddle boarding and mini golf, or you can check out the town’s many shops and restaurants that are clustered in its downtown area. Most activities are open and following social distancing and other COVID-19 prevention guidelines. If you’d like to stay the night, check out the Riverview Inn or the Colonial Beach Plaza Bed & Breakfast

Colonial Beach, Virginia, 95-minute drive from D.C. Find more information on its website.

Shenandoah National Park

This park covers more than 200,000 acres of protected lands. Venture to Skyline Drive, which runs from one end of the park to the other and showcases its mountainous views and nature. You can also walk on some of the park’s 500 miles of trails. While the park’s interior facilities are closed due to COVID-19 and the winter weather, its outdoors are all open to visitors. If you’re outdoorsy, check out the park’s campgrounds and backcountry camping guidelines.

US-211, Luray, Virginia, 75-minute drive from D.C. Admission is $30 per vehicle. Find more information on its website.

Colonial Williamsburg

If you’re a history buff, visit Colonial Williamsburg and explore spots like the Governor’s Palace, home to seven royal governors and the first two elected Virginia governors. Operating sites like the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, the Colonial Garden and demonstrations of early colonial trades are also included. While most of the site is open to visitors, some experiences like the Rockefeller Library are closed due to COVID-19. 

301 S. Nassau St., Williamsburg, Virginia, 2 1/2-hour drive from D.C. Most sites are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. $30.99 admission per person. Find more information on its website.

Bluestone Vineyard

If you’re over 21 years old, escape to the vineyard for the day. At Bluestone Vineyard in the wine region of Loudoun County, Virginia, you can sip wine by the glass while looking over the Allegheny Mountains. If you get hungry, the vineyard offers a small bites menu of a selection of meats and cheeses. The vineyard isn’t currently offering wine tastings because of the pandemic, but flights of 50 mL bottles are available, as are full-size bottles and growlers. Be sure to call to make a reservation before you visit. 

4828 Spring Creek Road, Bridgewater, Virginia, about a 2 1/2-hour drive from D.C. Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 1 to 6 p.m. Bottles from $15.50. Find more information on its website.

Brookside Gardens

Located in Maryland, Brookside Gardens is a 50-acre display garden including areas like the Azalea Garden, Butterfly Garden, Japanese-Style Garden and the Woodland Walk. While the gardens’ visitor center and shop is closed due to COVID-19, all of its outdoor areas are open to visitors. The visitor center reopens March 1. 

1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, Maryland, 36 min drive from D.C. Open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free. Find more information on its website.

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