Guest Post from Emily Wilberg.
You’ve heard the saying “Go Big or Go Home!” and I think a lot of us have a similar attitude about travel. When I know I have time off coming up I start looking at plane tickets to far away places. But even a quick afternoon out or overnight away can help re-set and re-fresh you. Living outside of Washington DC, I’m fortunate to live in an area that is very diverse- within a few hours’ drive I can be to mountains, city, country, ocean. No matter where you are located, I’m betting there is something you haven’t yet explored close to home.
TIP: Have a plan. I like to make a list from browsing Pinterest Boards, Trip Advisor forums, and Atlas Obscura. Look for local festivals or events. Play tourist in your town. What are your State Parks? Are there nature centers? Hikes? Restaurants you have been meaning to visit? Ask your co-workers and friends. My family tends to be introverted and laid back so if we don’t have a clear plan I find that we are still watching youtube videos at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. On our last trip, even after an agreement to “get an early start!” we were waiting until after noon while my husband duct-taped a bike rack to the car.
TIP: Consider getting a hotel room. This is DIFFERENT than a staycation- I like to be out of the house to not have to deal with all the everyday chores. Also, my kids think hotel pools are the best. Also, ice maker machines. They are easily amused.
The trick to this (in my opinion) is to be home early-ish on Sunday. I know some people squeak in late and turn around to go right out to work on Monday morning. I find my kids (and myself) do better if we have a lazy Sunday evening.
If you have one day-
- Pick a groupon for something you’ve never done before. We chose an afternoon “Float Therapy” session and thought it very interesting. What about a fish pedicure? A cooking class?
- Pick a new restaurant or cuisine you aren’t very familiar with. We have friends from India who have been taking us to different Indian buffets. What about Nepalese momos? Tapas?
- Visit your historical society and/or take a wander around the oldest cemetery you can find.
- My kids enjoyed participating in a local “fishing rodeo” event. Nature centers often have events and hikes. We missed the salamanders run at night but it sounds interesting!
- DC is full of plenty to do but I will just mention my two favorite little-known places- the Postal Museum, and the Museum on O Street.
If you have two days- (1-2 hour drive from DC)
- A ten-mile overnight backpacking trip along the Appalachian Trail from Gathland State Park, MD to Harpers Ferry, WV.
- An overnight stay on an AirBnB boat in Baltimore during the Pirate Festival to explore Fells Point and the Aquarium.
- An overnight stay (and massage!) at Turf Valley Resort and an explore of Ellicott City.
- A trip over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to visit Easton, Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, and Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad site.
- A day at the Renaissance Faire in near-by Crownsville, MD (we chose to do this as an overnight so we could hit the Beaver Creek Swim Club the next day. This could have been a one day.)
- A trip to Philadelphia (including Eastern State Penitentiary, Magic Gardens, Liberty Square, and cheese steaks.)
- Shenandoah National Park, VA (to stay in a lodge)
With Three Days you can go further afield (The camping could have been an overnight since it wasn’t far away but I like to stay at least 2 nights just for the sheer amount of stuff you have to pack)
- A weekend at the Ohio Bigfoot Festival (Cambridge, Ohio-first weekend in May)
- A trip to Fallingwater, PA and the Laurel Highlands (Ohiopyle State Park)
- Take the train up and back to New York City. It’s very easy from Union Station and not expensive if you book far enough ahead. We’ve also done the go-bus (or similar) but the schedule is much more limiting to cut into your time.
- Camping at Susquehanna State Park and an explore of Havre De Grace and Conowingo Dam.
- Camping at Point Lookout, MD to see the Perseid meteor shower (a full moon made the star viewing not very successful but the kids enjoyed crabbing)
(Still on my list!)
- Lancaster County, PA and the Wolf Rescue
- Gettysburg (Cashtown Inn (haunted) and Civil War Tails (dioramas using cats to show the battles!)
- An overnight on Tangier or Smith Island
- Duck Tour of DC
- Staunton, VA Harry Potter Festival Weekend
What are some quick explores you’ve done in your area?