One of the best perks about living in the Washington D.C. area is that a change of scenery is only a short drive away. Whether you yearn for salty air, lush green trees or to view the tops of mountains instead of the tops of buildings, check out one of these scenic drives in and around D.C.
Route 50 West to Middleburg
Red Fox Inn Restaurant
2 E. Washington St.
Middleburg, VA 20117
Distance: roughly 43 miles one-way
Hours: Mon to Sat – 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sun – 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and view the gorgeous countryside as you make your way to Middleburg, Va. Once you’re out of the city, Route 50 transforms itself into a seemingly endless stream of rolling hills. Drive past dozens of gorgeous vineyards and wineries. Known as the nation’s horse and hunt capital, Middleburg is steeped in rich history and gorgeous country estates. Stroll among brick-lined sidewalks and browse the charming shops and boutiques. Visit the Red Fox Inn Restaurant and enjoy home-style dishes, including its famous Virginia peanut soup, as well as wines and beer from local vineyards and breweries. After your meal, head upstairs and view the Red Fox Fine Art Gallery.
Route 9 to Charles Town, WV
Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races
750 Hollywood Dr.
Charles Town, WV 25414
Distance: roughly 60 miles one-way
Cruise the open country roads and cross over the Shenandoah River as you make your way to Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in Charles Town, W. Va. The drive to Charles Town is a thrilling one as you make your way through hilly terrain. Be sure to observe the speed limit as you make your way through Hillsboro, a sleepy town established more than 200 years ago. Cruise by vineyards and stunning mega estates as you wind toward Hollywood Casino. With more than 4,000 slots plus table games such as poker and roulette, it’s like having Las Vegas within driving distance.
Related: Must See Places in the DC Area
Route 95 to Baltimore
Oriole Park at Camden Yards
333 W. Camden St.
Baltimore, MD 21201
Distance: roughly 40 miles one-way
Price: $5 to $70; season and group ticket options available
D.C.-area transplants who yearn for a taste of the city life should head up Route 95 North toward Baltimore. As you emerge from the Fort McHenry Tunnel, Baltimore’s signature city skyline appears. Enjoy the view of skyscrapers and historic buildings such as the Domino Sugars factory and the M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. Although the initial drive to Baltimore may not be all that pretty, once you cross into Maryland and get to Oriole Park at Camden Yards, it’s a totally different story. Known as the “ballpark that forever changed baseball,” Camden Yards sits in a historic neighborhood within blocks of the Inner Harbor. This year, the Baltimore Orioles celebrates its 20th anniversary year with specials that make it well worth the road trip.
G.W. Parkway to Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park
9200 Old Dominion Dr.
Great Falls, VA 22102
Distance: roughly 17 miles one-way
Hours: daily – 7 a.m. until dark
The G.W. Parkway is one of the D.C.-area’s most scenic drives, especially because you’re not pulling your hair out in rush hour traffic. View magnificent mega-mansions as you cruise through the twisty turns, lush green forests and rolling hills. Stop to play at destinations the G.W. Parkway including the Clara Barton National Historic Site, Mount Vernon Trail and Great Falls Park. Take a peek at the Potomac River as you make your way along the parkway. Once at Great Falls, enjoy a picnic, go on a guided tour or take in the view of the rushing Potomac River from one of many cliffs. Other activities permitted at the park include fishing, boating, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, horseback riding, bird watching and hiking.
Related: Best Historical Sites in the DC Area
Route 50 East to Annapolis
Harbor View Inn
1 St. Mary’s St.
Annapolis, MD 21401
Distance: roughly 38 miles one-way
Price: $185 to $165 per night
Take a break from congested highways and massively populated towns and head east toward Annapolis. Outside of the city, the drive is a quiet one as you make your way past parks and the Globecom Wildlife Management Area. In Annapolis, cruise past quaint shops and boutiques, observe the Navy Marine Corps Stadium and enjoy the view of boats, yachts and other pleasure crafts as they sail through Acton Cove and Spa Creek. Park the car and take a walk along brick-lined sidewalks, sign up for a tour of the Naval Academy, visit the harbor or the Maryland State House and learn more about this historic capital of Maryland. Book a stay at the adults-only Harbor View Inn and enjoy luxurious accommodations, beautiful city and garden views, and a delicious gourmet breakfast.
Susan Diranian is a freelance writer living in Ashburn, VA. She is covering Travel & Outdoors. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.