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Mountains Of Opportunity

Forest and Ocean Just a Short Drive

If you can walk across the Mall blindfolded, know how to recite the Smithsonian museums in alphabetical order and can guide yourself through your own Capitol Hill tour, it might be time for a short weekend getaway.

Although the ever-popular beach and mountain destinations are always a safe bet, there a few places nearby that are worth checking out, even though most of your friends have probably never heard of them.


Virginia Beach, Va.

Even with the groundswell of tourists flocking to this warm summer hot spot, the large resort beach is bordered by the famous oceanfront boardwalk, a 3-mile ribbon perfectly suited for strolling, biking, jogging or blading for some alone time.

Visitors can also spend time at attractions such as science centers, museums and historic sites that are scattered throughout the city. Whether you’re interested in the ocean, the nightlife or the

family fun, this location — although always packed with visitors — has activities going on for everyone.

Visit or call (800) VA-BEACH.

Driving time from D.C.: a little more than three hours.

Ocean City, Md.

This beach destination has proven to be the best for families and especially children because of the immense amount of amusement activities, such as miniature golf, water slides, kayaking and skateboard parks, in the area.

Ocean City’s beaches and newly renovated boardwalk are great for a long, leisurely stroll, either day or night. Water sports are one of the major attractions of Ocean City, as visitors can enjoy sailing, kayaking, canoeing, jet-skiing, water skiing, parasailing and windsurfing, both in the bay as well as the ocean waters.

In addition to the more than 160 local restaurants all boasting seaside dining, Maryland’s premier resort destination is littered with all-you-can-eat seafood and steak buffets.

Visit or call (410) 213-0552.

Driving time from D.C.: three hours.

Gettysburg, Pa.

Gettysburg is the perfect place for those interested in soaking up some history while away from D.C. Tourist-filled, air-conditioned buses, as well as trolley cars with Civil War actors, are always en route to the famous battlefields.

Those who are feeling a bit more adventurous can explore the town’s 40 miles of battlefield roads by bicycle or horseback. The area is also home to 10 Civil War-themed museums with the option to take a Civil War house tour during the day.

Visit or call (717) 334-2100.

Driving time from D.C.: one and a half hours.

Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

For the more outdoorsy types, Berkeley Springs is the perfect place to soak up some scenery of small mountains. The area offers state-of-the-art spas, unique shops and local art, all surrounded by outdoor West Virginia.

Visit or call (800) 447-8797.

Driving time from D.C.: less than two hours.

Williamsburg, Va.

If you want to see where America began, this is your destination. Visitors can step back into the 18th century and see a restored town that was the largest and most populated of Britain’s 13 colonies. Tourists can also walk the road to revolution at Yorktown, where the nation’s independence was won in 1781, during the Revolutionary War.  

The town is also known for attractions such as two Anheuser-Busch theme parks, Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Water Country USA. 

Visit or call (800) 447-8679.

Driving time from D.C.: less than three hours.

Annapolis, Md.

As Maryland’s colonial capital, this destination is perfect for those who want to get their dose of history, in addition to some relaxation time. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the U.S. Naval Academy or the Senate chamber of the Maryland state House — the nation’s oldest state capitol in continuous legislative use — where Congress ratified the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War.

While the downtown area offers history lessons, Annapolis’ other neighborhoods are all stocked with their own restaurants, shopping and attractions. For example, Eastport, which occupies its own peninsula, boasts most of the city’s marinas, yacht designers, boat builders, boat brokers, crabbers and their local watering holes.

Visit or call (202) 234-9800.

Driving time from D.C.: less than one hour.


Holliday Lake State Park, Va.

This lake area is deep in the heart of Appomattox-Buckingham State Forest and is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. One of the more popular activities is fishing in the 150-acre lake within the park. The park also features excellent trails open to hikers and bikers.

Swimming is a popular summer activity at the park’s lifeguarded beach, where the “Critter Hole” play area is a favorite of young visitors. Holliday Park is a few minutes from the famous Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the site of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in 1865.

Visit holliday.htm or call (434) 248-6308.

Driving time from D.C.: More than three hours.

Deep Creek Lake, Md.

This lake area in the mountains of western Maryland offers a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities such as biking, hiking, boating, water skiing, swimming, scenic airplane rides and golfing. The lake itself is 12 miles long and can be an outdoor playground for any age.

Visit or call (301) 387-4386.

Driving time from D.C.: three hours.

Lake Anna State Park, Va.

The 17-mile-long lake with more than 250 miles of shoreline is one of Virginia’s premier spots for water sports and fishing. The water is perfect for toddlers, since much of it is very shallow. Everything is focused on the water — and there’s plenty of it to focus on.

Visit lakeanna.htm or call (540) 854-5503.

Driving time from D.C.: 90 minutes.

Hunting Creek Lake, Md.

This lake, located in Cunningham Falls State Park, is the perfect place for an early-morning hike, followed by a relaxing day at the beach. The nearby Catoctin Mountain Park is well known for its 25 miles of hiking trails with several variations of trees lining the way.

Visit or call (301) 271-7574

Driving time from D.C.: about one hour.

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