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Best Cheap Holiday Escapes Near Washington DC

December 14, 2013 7:00 AM

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(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

Getting out the city can become a necessity, even when your budget may not allow it. These holiday escapes will be easy on the wallet while providing you with some much-needed downtime.

Frederick, MD
151 S. East St.
Frederick MD 21701
(301) 600-4047
www.cityoffrederick.com

Where the northbound I-270 ends sits a quaint city called Frederick that offers as much to do as a big town with a small town look and feel. There’s plenty of shopping with antiques, arts, crafts, pottery and produce. When you’re done shopping, there are plenty of excellent restaurants to dine in, like Top Chef’s Brian Voltaggio’s flagship restaurant VOLT. Grab a flight of beer at Brewer’s Alley where this brewpub serves up delicious food and its own house brews. You can even take home a growler of your favorite beer. For a fun place to stay, try one of the many historic bed and breakfasts, or there’s also hotels, motels and camping.

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, WV
Harpers Ferry, WV 25425
(304) 535-6029
www.historicharpersferry.com

Harpers Ferry is less than a two-hour drive from Washington, DC and is a picturesque historical town most well known for the John Brown raid on the Armory during the Civil War. More than just war history, Harpers Ferry is well known for its outdoor recreation. From hiking the mountains to tubing and zip lining, Harpers Ferry has become synonymous with outdoor adventure. The Appalachian Trail runs through the area and is often the supply stop for those walking the entire trail. If you like trains, you’ll love its thriving connectivity of trains that come through the area. Depending on what type of adventure you’re looking for, lodging can range from bed and breakfasts to camping with everything in between.

Harrisonburg, VA
Harrisonburg Tourism
212 S. Main St.
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
(540) 432-8935
www.visitharrisonburgva.com

Tucked into the Shenandoah Mountains in Virginia’s countryside, Harrisonburg offers so much to do in one weekend. For those that want to get out and stay active, there’s plenty of hiking in the area, including the historic Appalachian Trail. Try skiing at Massanutten in the winter or the waterpark in the summer as a fun activity for the whole family. If you want a more relaxing vacation, enjoy the wine country with many of Virginia’s vineyards studded within a one-hour drive of Harrisonburg. Explore the natural geography of Luray Caverns or take a ride on the historic and always breathtaking Skyline Drive. With James Madison University located in Harrisonburg, there’s plenty of hotels, inns or camping for a long weekend.

Related: Best Sleep Away Summer Camps For Kids In Washington DC

Lancaster, PA
Lancaster County Visitors Center
501 Greenfield Road
Lancaster, PA 17601
(717) 299-8901
www.padutchcountry.com

For a country escape with ample charm, check out Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Most well known for being the home of the Amish, Lancaster is a great place for Amish arts and crafts, as well as country cooking. Be sure to check out regional food specialties like Shoo Fly pie or Whoopie Pies. Your family and a group of friends you haven’t made yet can sit down to a PA Dutch-style family dinner at Good ‘N Plenty. Take a drive through the scenic countryside with its horse-drawn Amish buggies and covered bridges. There are plenty of museums, both historic and cultural, like the quilt museum or the Amish Country Tours at Plain & Fancy Farm.

Southern Maryland
Calvert County Department of Economic Development
175 Main St.
Prince Frederick, MD 20678
(410) 535-4583
www.destinationsouthernmaryland.com

Southern Maryland is an historic, but often overlooked part of Maryland’s history. With plenty to do on and off the water, you can visit historical places, grab some Chesapeake Bay seafood or just check out the quaint towns. See the first settlement in Maryland at St. Mary’s City. Take a walking tour of Leonardtown, which was ravished by the British during the War of 1812. Check out the lighthouses on the bay accessible through water taxis. If it’s warm out, grab a drink at the themed Tiki Bar on Solomon’s Island. There are plenty of trails to do as well, from the Patuxent Wine Trail to the Star Spangled Banner Trail. From charming inns to camping, you’ll find accommodations to make your stay a pleasant one.

Related: Best Holiday Escapes Near Washington DC

Jamie Hardin is the counter-culture Washingtonian in the know. Inspired by food, sustainability issues, and public health, she prides herself on finding DC’s off-the-beaten path treasures. When she isn’t enjoying organic food or reducing her carbon footprint, Jamie’s traveling on her scooter or walking her two pit bulls. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.


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