Washington is famous for its historical landmarks, museums and tourist attractions. But the hustle bustle of the city combined with the influx of the summer tourists can make the city feel claustrophobic. Luckily, the DMV has a medley of lakes and state parks that offer a respite from city. Located in nearby Maryland and Virginia, these lakes have fishing, boating, swimming, camping and many other outdoor activities.
Lake Anna
6800 Lawyers Road
Spotsylvania, VA 22551
800) 933-7275

Lake Anna is located about an hour and half from Washington in Northern Virginia. The manmade lake is amenable to swimming, boating, kayaking fishing and other water sports. Lake Anna is also home to the Goodwin gold mine where visitors can try their luck at gold panning. The state park has several campgrounds or visitors can rent private waterfront cottages and homes. Outside the park you’ll find quaint shops, wineries, golf and hiking trails. Daily passes start at $3 and campsite rentals at $24.

Deep Creek Lake
898 State Park Road
Swanton, MD 21561​​
(301) 387-5563

Located near Oakland, Deep Creek Lake is the largest lake in Maryland. It offers boating, fishing, swimming and more. The boat launch is open 24 hours and offers overnight slip rentals. Learn all about Western Maryland at The Deep Creek Lake Discovery Center or enjoy a picnic at the large waterfront picnic areas. The park also offers campsite rentals that include heated restrooms and hot water. Daily passes start at $3 or you can purchase an annual pass for $75.

Gunpowder Falls State Park
2813 Jerusalem Road
Kingsville MD 21087
(410) 592-2897

This 18,000 acre park has trails, stream, tidal marshes, a marina and a beach area for swimming. The park is located in northeastern Baltimore County and encompasses the Big and Little Gunpowder Falls and the Gunpowder River. The network of streams is perfect for kayaking, canoeing and tubing. Download the AccessDNR park app to map the hiking trails, locate activities, use the fish and shellfish identifier and find boat launching sites. Reserve a campsite or stay at the Mill Pond Cottage, a quaint little house with all the comforts of home. 

Related: Best Small Parks in DC

Algonkian Regional Park
47001 Fairway Drive
Sterling,VA 20165
(703) 450-4655

The Algonkian Park combines nature with the amenities of a modern resort. Located on the shore of the Potomac River, guests can enjoy a tranquil day, head out for a round of golf at the Algonkian Golf Course or spend a day at the Volcano Island Waterpark. The park has 12 riverfront cottages that range from two to five bedrooms and include free access to the waterpark, miniature golf and boat ramp. Take advantage of scheduled park activities and guided paddling tours.

Rocky Gap State Park
12900 Lakeshore Drive
Flintstone, MD 21530
(301) 722-1480​

Rocky Gap State Park is located about two hours north of Washington in Allegany County, Maryland. Rocky Gap’s manmade Lake Habeeb is a 243 acre park that features sparkling white sand beaches. The park is home to biking, hiking, fishing, hunting and camping. After you enjoy the marvels of the outdoors, head over to nearby Rocky Gap Casino Resort. The 200-room hotel is a four Diamond rated resort and features the only Jack Nicklaus golf course in Maryland.

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Christa Emmer is a graduate of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in broadcast journalism. She has experience as a news writer, editor and producer in television news. Follow her on twitter @ChristaEmmer. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.