Road Trips

12 Weekend Road Trips From Washington, D.C.

by Holly Riddle
Updated January 25, 2023

weekend roadtrips from washington dc
Atlantic City is a little over 3 hours from Washington, D.C. Photo: Shutterstock

Washington D.C.’s location in the Mid-Atlantic places it near some of the best travel destinations in the United States.

So, if you have a D.C. trip planned and want to tack on another destination, or if you live in the area and want to get away for a weekend, you’ll have plenty of options.

Here are 12 weekend road trip itineraries from Washington D.C., whether you want to check out some of the area’s biggest cities and all they offer, or you’re on the hunt for history, rural attractions, or even wine country. There’s something for everyone, all just a short drive from our nation’s capital.

1. Baltimore, Maryland

roadtrips from washington dc - baltimore
Photo: Sean Pavone

What’s one of the easiest and quickest road trips from Washington, D.C.? Take the Baltimore-Washington Parkway all the way up to Maryland (which takes only a few minutes without traffic) and then keep heading northeast until you hit America’s “Charm City”, Baltimore.

You’ve got to check out the iconic food scene (Maryland crab cakes, anyone?), but the historic seaport also offers loads to do when you’re not chowing down. From the National Aquarium to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, to quite a few art museums, like the BMA, you’ll have no trouble filling your itinerary.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 40 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 1 hour

2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

road trips from washington dc - philly
Photo: Shutterstock

Continue traveling northward up the coast and you’ll find yourself in Philadelphia after about three hours. A city that could easily rival D.C. for its historic significance, you’ll want to stop by Philadelphia’s top historic sites, including the Independence National Historical Park and the iconic Liberty Bell.

But be sure to check out some of Philly’s more unique attractions too, like the Magic Gardens or Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, which is rumored to be one of the most haunted places on the planet. If you get hungry, be sure to pick up the city’s iconic sandwich, the Philly cheesesteak!

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 140 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 20 minutes

3. Atlantic City, New Jersey

roadtrips from washington dc - atlantic city
Photo: Shutterstock

Atlantic City, New Jersey, is a destination that many probably dismiss as tacky…which is a reputation it surely deserved in the past. However, in the last few years, the city has undergone a massive transformation.

Streets that were once known for tacky second-rate casinos are now filled with some of the newest casino resorts in the country, including a Hard Rock, a Ceasers, and the locally-owned Ocean Casino Resort. The major resorts have also attracted lots of touring concerts, musicals, and comedians.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 188 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 10 minutes

4. Dover, Delaware

roadtrips from washington dc - road trips from dc - dover
Photo: Jon Bilous

Drive directly east of Washington, D.C., and across a bridge or two, and you’ll find yourself in Dover, Delaware, in just under two hours. This smaller and quieter destination offers lots to do for families, history buffs, and sports fans.

For history, visit the Old State House (built in the 1700s), the John Dickinson Plantation, and the Johnson Victrola Museum. If you’re a racing fan, you’ve got to stop by Dover Motor Speedway, whether to catch an event or just take a tour. History fans and aircraft aficionados of all ages will also enjoy a visit to the Air Mobility Command Museum.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 93 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 1 hour, 40 minutes

5. Virginia Wine Country

road trips from washington dc - wine country
Photo: Andriy Blokhin

Sure, Virginia’s wine country may not get as much attention as the wine regions of California and Washington, but Virginia claims the first recorded wine growing in the United States, in the early 1600s, as well as a spot among the top five wine-producing states in the U.S.

You’ll find more than 200 wineries scattered throughout the state, just a short drive from D.C. Pick the area you’d like to explore and Virginia Wine will send you a guide, so you can easily plot a winery road trip through the region.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 100 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 1 hour, 50 minutes

6. Richmond, Virginia

roadtrips from washington dc - richmond
Photo: Tracey Mershon

Directly south of D.C., Richmond, Virginia, awaits as both a history hub and an up-and-coming foodie destination. Be sure to get your fill of the local eats (you might be surprised at how much international cuisine is on offer) and then explore the museums, historic estates, and other top sites.

Favorited attractions include Maymont, a Victorian estate with gardens; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, with works from renowned artists like Picasso and Goya, and the American Civil War Museum. Literature lovers and bookworms will want to stop by The Poe Museum, known as the international center for the study of Edgar Allen Poe. For more gothic fun, visit Hollywood Cemetery, which dates back to the 1800s and welcomes visitors for self-guided or guided tours to take in the notable sites, including President James Monroe’s tomb.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 108 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 1 hour, 50 minutes

7. Virginia Beach, Virginia

road trips from dc - virginia beach
Photo: Jay Yuan

If you’re willing to drive a little bit further (just under four hours), you can visit Virginia’s most famous summertime destination, Virginia Beach. While boardwalks and beach fun are the highlights here, don’t overlook all the historic appeal that this town offers, as well as the natural attractions that go beyond the sands.

For hiking and scenic views, visit First Landing State Park, False Cape State Park, or Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. For history, try the Cape Henry Lighthouse, built in the 1700s, or the Military Aviation Museum, which features working aircraft from World War I and World War II.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 208 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 20 minutes

8. Lancaster, Pennsylvania

roadtrips from washington dc - lancaster pa
Photo: Jon Bilous

If it’s a rural escape you’re after, look no further than Lancaster, Pennsylvania, located just a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. Known as the heart of Pennsylvania’s Amish country, you’ll find a slower pace here – quite literally if you end up stuck behind a horse and buggy.

Rent a cabin and enjoy ample opportunities to relax surrounded by a historic town and rolling hills. When you are ready for more diversions beyond the many Amish restaurants and the pristine scenery, you’ll find lots of family-friendly options, such as the Lancaster Science Factory and the Strasburg Rail Road.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 119 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 10 minutes

9. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

roadtrips from washington dc - harpers ferry
Photo: Joe Chansak

For a charming small town that’s loaded with history, all within easy reach of lots of hiking and outdoor adventure, look to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The town sits on the Appalachian Trail, so you’ll get all the hiking and outdoor fun opportunities that come with that location.

But more famously, the town is known for the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, and John Brown’s Fort, both of which played a massive role in igniting the Civil War and granting freedom to Black slaves in the South.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 63 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 1 hour, 15 minutes

10. Annapolis, Maryland

roadtrips from dc - Annapolis, Maryland
Photo: Sean Pavone

At just 32 miles away from Washington, D.C., Annapolis, Maryland is the state’s capital and is home to the United States Naval Academy. The city makes for an incredibly quick road trip if you want to get out of D.C., but don’t want to spend a lot of time in the car.

History buffs will find a lot to love here, including the William Paca House & Garden, a stately Georgian mansion built by a signer of the Declaration of Independence; the Annapolis Maritime Museum, to learn more about the Chesapeake region and its maritime culture; and the Hammond-Harwood House & Museum, with its architecture and early American fine and decorative arts.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 32 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 40 minutes

11. Assateague Island

road trips from dc - Assateague Island
Photo: Shutterstock

While you might not find any tropical island destinations within driving distance of Washington, D.C., you will find Assateague Island, and it’s certainly worth a visit. The island — which contains a National Seashore and a Maryland State Park — is most well known for its wild pony population. But beyond the wildlife watching, you can also enjoy beaches, hiking trails through the marshes, sand dunes, and an 1800s lighthouse.

You can also camp out on the island by renting an oceanside camp spot through the national park service. If you don’t want to camp and are craving hotels and restaurants, you can stay in nearby Chincoteague.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 148 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 2 hours, 30 minutes

12. Cape May, New Jersey

road trips from dc - cape may
Photo: Shutterstock

Cape May, New Jersey, is a favorite vacation spot for families throughout both New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The beach town has long been a seaside resort and now offers the historic appeal to prove it, thanks to its stunning collection of Victorian homes. Take a tour of some of these homes during your visit or book a stay in a historic inn or bed and breakfast.

Cape May is loaded with classic resort town fare, including great seafood restaurants, local boutique shops, excellent spas, and ample amounts of parks to relax and enjoy the view.

  • Distance from Washington, D.C.: 200 miles
  • Drive time without stops: 3 hours, 20 minutes

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