Following the cold hibernation of winter, spring often brings the desire to travel and explore. The warming temperatures, the longer days and a general sense of rebirth are hard to resist. As spring comes to the Washington, D.C. area there are many nearby destinations to explore. Here are five cities that are particularly springtime travel worthy.

Liberty Bell Center (Photo: D. Cruz for Visit Philadelphia)


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, the country’s only World Heritage City, was recently ranked #1 on Lonely Planet’s list of 10 best places to visit in the U.S.

What to do: A visit to the City of Brotherly Love must include Independence National Historical Park. The Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are just two of the park’s many attractions.

Where to eat: A cheesesteak at Pat’s, Geno’s or one of the other purveyors of Philly’s signature sandwich is always a wise choice. Other restaurants to consider include Barbuzzo for Italian and Lolita for Mexican.

Where to stay: The Loews Philadelphia is full-service hotel, and The Independent is a boutique property. Both offer great service and are centrally located.

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Photo: Richmond Region Tourism)


Richmond, Virginia

The editors at Travel+Leisure recently included Richmond, the capital city of Virginia, among its picks for top cities in the world to visit — and for good reasons.

What to do: One of the most popular springtime attractions in Richmond is the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, with 50 acres of natural beauty. There is also the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the American Civil War Museum, and Monument Avenue.

Where to eat: The Tobacco Company Restaurant, opened in 1977 in a former downtown tobacco warehouse, offers wonderful contemporary American cuisine. And in the fun and funky Carytown neighborhood you can enjoy casual Mexican cuisine at Nacho Mama’s.

Where to stay: Opened in 1895, The Jefferson is Richmond’s grandest hotel. A charter member of Historic Hotels of America, it offers visitors outstanding service.

Monticello (Photo: Roy Van Doom for Charlottesville Albemarle Convention & Visitors Bureau/www.visitcharlottesville.org)


Charlottesville, Virginia

Along the foothills of Blue Ridge Mountains, Charlottesville is a charming city that offers many unique experiences.

What to do: Founding Father and third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s mountaintop home. Monticello is the only house in America recognized as a World Heritage Site. A tour of the house is something not to be missed.

Where to eat: Serving contemporary French fare, Fleurie is one of the pricier restaurants in Charlottesville but well worth every penny. For a more casual meal, look to Citizen Burger Bar and Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie pizzeria.
Where to stay: Boar’s Head, a Four Diamond, full-service resort, is the official hotel for the University of Virginia and has 175 guest rooms and suites. For those who prefer a more intimate setting, the historic Clifton Inn is delightful with 17 uniquely appointed rooms and suites.

Related: Best Camping Sites Near Washington, D.C.


Annapolis, Maryland

Red-brick streets lined with colonial buildings steeped in history, matched with the scenic waters of the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay, make Annapolis an attractive destination.

What to do: The Maryland State House was the first and only state house to serve as the nation’s capital, and is a wonderful introduction to Annapolis’ 300 year old history. From the State House, head to Main Street to explore the many shops and galleries before reaching the City Dock.

Where to eat: With its proximity to the Chesapeake Bay, seafood is Annapolis’ specialty, and two of the best places are Boatyard Bar & Grill and O’Leary’s Seafood Restaurant.

Where to stay: Operating as the Historic Inns of Annapolis, the Maryland Inn, Governor Calvert House, and Robert Johnson House date back to the 17th and 18th centuries and provide wonderful accommodations for today’s travelers.

The National Aquarium (Photo: Visit Baltimore)


Baltimore, Maryland

Acclaimed novelists and Baltimore resident Laura Lippman once said, “Anyone can love a perfect place. Loving Baltimore takes some resilience.” The largest city in Maryland, Baltimore has its fair share of flaws but it good side far outweighs the bad.

What to do:  Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a perfect springtime destination. Here you will find many great attractions including the Civil War–era warship the USS Constellation, the National Aquarium, the Maryland Science Center and the American Visionary Art Museum.

Where to eat: Zagat recently named Baltimore a top food city for its delicious and eclectic dining scene. The hip American cuisine at Woodberry Kitchen and the classic Italian dishes at Dalesio’s Restaurant most certainly contributed to that honor.

Where to stay: The Monaco Baltimore, a Kimpton Hotel, the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront and the historic Lord Baltimore Hotel are great choices for staying near the Inner Harbor.

Related: Best Travel Agencies In Washington, D.C.

Based in Washington, D.C., Troy Petenbrink is a freelance writer, blogger and social media influencer. A member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association, he has written for Fodor’s, Travel Channel, and Miami Herald, among other outlets. http://www.examiner.com/wine-and-spirits-travel-3-in-washington-dc/troy-petenbrink

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