Sometimes, a quick getaway is all you need to refresh and recharge. Check out these local spots for a quick and inexpensive day trip.

Luray Caverns
101 Cave Hill Road
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 743-6551

For less than $100, you and the kids can explore the most popular cave in Eastern America–Luray Caverns. More than four million centuries old, the caves are a natural landmark that was only discovered in 1878. Enjoy the cavernous beauty of stalactite formations and discover cathedral-sized spaces with 10-story ceilings, tall columns and translucent pools of water. Stalactite formations that span over three acres form what is known as The Great Stalacpipe Organ, considered the world’s largest musical instrument. It is said to make music of concert quality. Enjoy the unique and breathtaking beauty of Luray Caverns without breaking the bank.

Ocean City
Ocean City, MD 21842
(800) 626-2326

Enjoy a day of fun in the sun. Ocean City is just a hop, skip and a jump away. With a 10-mile stretch of free sandy beach, and a lively three-mile boardwalk packed with food, amusement parks and entertainment, there is definitely something for everyone in the family. Enjoy elaborate sand sculptures by talented local artisans as you take in the sights of the bustling boardwalk. Indulge in an array of tasty cuisine including boardwalk fries, subs and pizza and top it all off with tasty ice cream and funnel cakes. The surrounding city boasts outlet malls, 15 golf courses and an array of other inexpensive entertainment.

Shenandoah National Park: Skyline Drive
3655 Highway 211 E.
Luray, VA 22835
(540) 999-3500

A little over an hour outside of The District, Shenandoah National Park is the perfect destination for a day to be refreshed and rejuvenated by nature. The picturesque beauty of the park includes 300 square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains and 200,000 acres of protected land that is punctuated by dramatic waterfalls, scenic views and peaceful woodlands. You can even enjoy a relaxing ride along Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that runs the length of the park, and take in nature’s beauty.

Great Falls Park
9200 Old Dominion Drive
McLean, VA 22102
(703) 285-2965

Situated only 15 minutes from the nation’s Capital, Great Falls is a gorgeous 800-acre park. There are many things to explore, including one of the nation’s first canals, the hiking opportunities along the Mather Gorge cliff-tops and, of course, the Great Falls of the Potomac. The park has three scenic overlooks that each offer different views of the falls. You can also plan a family picnic or a hike along the Potomac and enjoy the great outdoors.

Related: Best Bike Rides In The DC Area

United States Botanic Garden
245 1st St. S.W.
Washington, DC 20024
(202) 225-8333

Considered a “living plant museum,” the United States Botanic Garden is a great way to spend an afternoon surrounded by beauty. The garden gives visitors a sense of the significant role that plant life plays in the well being of human life. The National Garden, Conservatory and Bartholdi Park are all open year round and each contains tables and chairs for visitors to enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful outdoors. If you feel like taking photos or are inspired to sketch, you are welcome to use a small hand-held film camera or lap easel to snap photos and draw to your heart’s content.

Related:  America’s Best Gardens And Parks

Kevin Don Porter is the author of MISSING — a mystery novel available May 7, 2013. Visit his website at