Summer Day-cation Ideas


When the stress of life reaches its brink, it’s nice to have a day away to clear your mind. Whether it be hiking in nature or perusing the latest shops in a nearby city, a day-cation can be just what you need. Take a look at some of the best spots for a relaxing getaway, all within an hour’s drive from the District.

National Harbor (15 minutes) Noted for its expansive array of shops and restaurants, National Harbor — on the Maryland side of the Potomac — is a wonderful place to sit and relax or simply take a stroll. Spend the day shopping at waterfront stores or the nearby Tanger Outlets, located just outside of National Harbor. Various events are held almost every day throughout the summer, including date-night movie screenings and morning yoga.

Torpedo Factory Art Center (25 minutes) Originally a munitions plant dating to the early 1900s, this innovative complex in Alexandria, Virginia, is the largest grouping of publicly accessible artists’ studios, 82, in the United States. There are also several galleries and workshop spaces. Visitors can wander around the art center while sipping on a coffee from the café, Bread & Chocolate. This day-cation is sure to expand your artistic horizons.

Great Falls (45 minutes) Picturesque overlooks, hiking trails and picnic spots are just a short drive from D.C.’s hustle and bustle at this National Park Service site in McLean, Virginia. The Potomac River provides for adventurous activities such as fishing, whitewater rafting and falls viewing. Breathe in the fresh air and pack a lunch for a fun day in the great outdoors.

Annapolis (50 minutes) This lovely town, Maryland’s capital, gets its charm and appeal from the many historic buildings and homes, as well as from the welcoming attitude of merchants and residents alike. Get out on the water with Watermark Cruises, choose from restaurants of all types and sizes and visit the nation’s esteemed Naval Academy. Annapolis is a great place to bring the whole family and enjoy an ice cream cone, browse in shops and feed ducks along the Severn River.

Paradise Springs Winery (55 minutes) Wine tasting is the perfect way to whisk the day away in relaxation and good company. Proudly called “The Gateway to Virginia Wine Country,” Paradise Springs is open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. (until 9 p.m. on Fridays). The winery will be hosting a Father’s Day Gourmet Cuban Pig Roast for all to enjoy while taking in the scenery and live jazz music. Located in Clifton, Virginia, Paradise Springs is the closest winery to D.C.

Butler’s Orchard (one hour) Choose from a selection of seasonal fruits, vegetables and flowers to pick yourself this summer at Butler’s Orchard. In season during the month of June are strawberries, sugar snap peas, blackberries, tart cherries and peonies. The orchard is a family-owned business that has offered fresh produce and hosted events for more than 65 years. Have a country gathering with friends, including countryside picnic tables, a private, tractor-driven wagon ride to your field of choice and the Barn Yard Play Area for kids. Also available are evening hayrides and bonfires that make for a perfect summer night.

North Beach, Maryland (one hour) There are few ocean beaches within close proximity to D.C., but the Chesapeake Bay has many locations along the water for a day of fun in the sun. Called “The Jewel of the Chesapeake,” North Beach is the ultimate urban dweller’s destination, offering rentals of every beach item imaginable, from beach chairs to umbrellas. The sandy spot was recently voted “Best Bay Beach” and “Best Bay Town” for its many attractions and eclectic shops.

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