Day trips and weekend getaways

There are quite a few places to visit for a day or a weekend in the DMV area, although I feel like I haven’t been on that many trips outside of DC during my time here. This is mainly due to the reason that there is already so much to see and do in DC, and I have wanted to get to know the city I live in. Another “obstacle” problem is the lack of good public transport to places. There are trains and bus companies, but the train is expensive, and the bus schedule might not always be the most convenient. I would for example very much like to go to Annapolis, but for some reason the bus schedule doesn’t allow for a day trip, and a hotel room is crazy expensive even though it’s not even a big city. But I have had the opportunity to go to a few places, like Baltimore and Shenandoah National Park, and I just spent a weekend in New York.

Baltimore can easily be done as a day trip, it’s not the biggest city even though it’s the capital of Maryland. Baltimore used to have a reputation as quite a rough city because of a crime rate, and apparently the crime rate still is significantly higher than the national rate. In other words there are some areas to avoid, but the central areas are safe. We took the bus in the morning and spend the first half of the day walking around town. We visited the Public Library and the Lexington Market, where we had delicious crab cakes at Faidley’s. After lunch we strolled down to the waterfront. The sea level was unusually high, take a look at some photos down below, In the afternoon we visited the Baltimore Aquarium, which had a lot of sharks and beautiful jellyfish. All in all a nice day trip!

For visiting Shenandoah National Park, you need the whole weekend and a car. There were seven of us going on this trip, and we rented a bigger car to get around. On Saturday, we drove from DC to Shenandoah National Park. In the park, we drove along the Skyline Drive and hiked the Hawksbill Mountain Trail, conquering the highest peak in the park! The views were amazing, and the weather was perfect for enjoying a day outside. We spent the night in a house in the town of Basye, and the next day we visited the Carter Mountain Orchard and pumpkin patch, and had lunch in Charlottesville before driving back to DC. The weather on Sunday was kind of a bummer, it was raining and extremely foggy, so we couldn’t enjoy the views at the orchard – which really was atop a small mountain, so the views could have been very nice. But, despite the weather it was a great weekend! We had been warned about bears before going, and all the people I talked to beforehand had seen a bear in Shendandoah, but we didn’t see more than some deer – which you also should be careful of especially when driving. The foliage was already showing some fall colors when we visited in October, but peak season would apparently have been in the beginning of November. It was beautiful anyway!

To New York, you can either take the bus or the train from DC. I’ve heard both bad and good experiences from taking the bus, but as some people warned about huge delays due to bad traffic, I opted for the train even though it’s the more expensive option. I spent three nights in New York with my parents, both showing them around places I already visited in the summer and seeing new places. We went to Brooklyn and walked the Brooklyn Bridge, visited The New York City Public Library and Grand Central Terminal, took the elevator up to the Empire State Building’s 86th floor, and went on a cruise to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline during sunset. All in all, a great mini vacation! A tip if you ponder taking the train is to book your tickets early, because the prices start to go up quickly and can get very expensive (we talk 150-300 dollars one way) as the trains start to fill up. So plan ahead!

Alexandria Old Town is another place which you can visit for a day or an afternoon. I’ve been there twice now, once in September during one of the very last warm days, and now once with my parents in November. Both times had their own charm: when it was warm, it was lovely to just stroll down King Street to the waterfront and enjoy the sun and the view over the Potomac River; later in the fall when the Christmas lights start to appear King Street becomes beautifully lit and very cozy in the evening. It’s not a big place, but the houses are cute and there are some small shops and restaurants to explore.

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