One of the most daunting things about changing jobs in journalism is learning a new place quickly. For a week I reported from the Iowa cornfields; from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor next week. I quickly discovered the magic of a city with America’s first cathedral, the national anthem and 20,000 animals, most of them underwater.
However, if you tear yourself away from this city for a day, you can explore history and nature that takes you from the mountains to the sea, all within a three hour drive. Here you can find day trips for a week to make the most of this remarkable area.
1. Reach for the skyline
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
If you’re in the mood for a real road trip, Shenandoah National Park has a road with unbeatable views. You can walk 108 miles to the. drive Royal front entrance then continue on historic Skyline Drive for as many of the 105 miles through the park as you like. The average speed is 55 miles per hour, so you’ll have plenty of time to stop at any of the 70+ lookout points to keep an eye out for bears and deer.
Park your car and hike one of the 500+ miles of trails through forests, to waterfalls, and, if you have a long day on your way, tackle the park’s most popular destination. Old rag. This is a very strenuous, often crowded 15.4 mile hike, but hikers say they didn’t see Shenandoah National Park until they got to the top.
If you want something easier to achieve, give this a try Limberlost path through the forest at mile 43. Its 1.3 miles are accessible to everyone except pets.
Pro tip: There is food approximately every 25 miles along the Skyline Drive. Allow extra time to eat a meal in. to enjoy one of the two park restaurants Where The view is amazing but tables are first come, first served.
2. Go see them Other Washington Monument
Baltimore claims that first great Washington monument, but the 555-foot obelisk that came later just 76 miles down the street in Washington, DC is worth a trip. You can see the National Mall Monument on foot, by bike, scooter, or even Excursion boat. Book a 90-minute ride on the Potomac from Georgetown to Alexandria and back for around $ 30.
Did you have enough Washington? Check out the lore of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Book Tower at Ford’s Theater Center for Education and Leadership. It has more books on Honest Abe than even the greatest bibliophile has on his bedside table.
The National Cathedral is perfect for a visual scavenger hunt looking for the Window with moon rocks Apollo 11 astronauts were personally brought to the cathedral from the moon. Star Wars fans can tell Darth Vader Gargoyle. (If you can’t get there in person, try this virtual tour.)
Pro tip: Plan ahead and you can get Washington’s best view from here Ascent to the National Cathedral Towerwhich takes you up 333 steep, winding steps. These high altitude ticket tours were discontinued during the pandemic. Keep an eye on the webpage when things resume.
3. Tour the city that was These Near Washington, DC
Havre De Grace, Maryland
Local legend says this congregation at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay missed the nomination as capital of the United States by one vote. So there is no congress, but there is still a lot to see, 41 miles from Baltimore. Let them Concord Point lighthouse direct your way as it directed shipping for nearly 150 years. Maryland’s second oldest lighthouse is open for weekend tours from April through October.
End your day with crab cakes at Tidal water grid, where Chesapeake views help you get away from it all, less than an hour from Baltimore.
4. Speaking of capitals …
Baltimore is 32 miles from the capital of Maryland, where the US Naval Academy. Graduates include President Jimmy Carter, 54 astronauts, and 26 members of Congress. They can walk around the site like they did; Public tours are open outside of pandemic times, and you must bring an official ID with you for access.
Pro tip: Every year in May Navy Blue Angel Jets fly over Annapolis for USNA Commissioning Week. Schedule a visit to the area for the trial day (the date is always publicly available) and you’ll see a great show with smaller crowds.
Order like a local Chicks & ruths, where you can get sandwiches named after politicians and leaders, such as Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall (grilled cheese with Swiss, tomato and bacon on rye for $ 9.99). Arrive early for the pledge of loyalty recited at 8:30 a.m. on weekdays and at 9:30 a.m. on weekends
A schooner tour proves why Annapolis is known as America’s sailing capital. If the wind cooperates, you can sail under the 7 km long Chesapeake Bay Bridge that connects Annapolis to Maryland’s east coast.
5. See more on the east coast
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland
Traffic at the Bay Bridge gets heavy as the weather warms up. Lots of people move to beach communities like Ocean City, St. Michaelis, and Rehoboth, where long stays in rentals and hotels are often required. If you’re looking for a beach on a budget, drive 180 km from Baltimore to Assateague Island National Seashore. Here you will find 60 km of coastline, perfect for swimming, fishing, camping and watching Assateagues wild horses.
Pro tip: Check out the schedule for Ranger-led programs. I learned how to catch (and throw back) crabs thanks to a park program, and it gave me a lot more appreciation for my seafood dinner that afternoon!
Would you like to go even further? to buy Over-Sand Vehicle (OSV) approval to drive on otherwise inaccessible beaches. Make sure you are sand ready; The National Park Service staff cannot pull you out if you get stuck.
6. Take a (almost) presidential vacation
Catoctin Mountain Park, NPS / Cunningham Falls State Park, Maryland
Every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt has had an opportunity to relax Camp David in Catoctin Mountain Park. Even without an invitation from the White House, you can enjoy the atmosphere in the public part of the NPS park and the nearby Cunningham Falls State Park.
These parks offer walking tours just 110 km from Baltimore. One of the best takes you to Maryland’s tallest waterfall. The easiest hike Seeing Cunningham Falls is the 800 meter long William Houck Area Lower Trail. There are longer, more strenuous also options.
Pro tip: This is worth an early wake up call as the parking lots fill up quickly.
7. Get a castle (house) on an adventure
C&O Canal National Historical Park
When international trips were canceled in 2020, I took a closer look at trips near my home and the C&O Canal National Historical Park made me want to come back. A 184.5 mile hiking trail extends from Washington, DC to Cumberland, Maryland. Although the park is visited by more than five million people each year, there is plenty of room to escape the crowds and at its most distant point the trail is only 139 miles from Baltimore.
Cycle or stroll the wide, flat towpath along the canal that was once an important commercial waterway – there are access points along the way with nearby parking.
One point along the way is very different: The Great Falls Overlook 15 miles outside of Washington, DC, feels like Colorado as the Potomac River turns into a thundering series of waterfalls. There is a Wheelchair-accessible, paved footpath which takes you across part of the river to the main canal. You can look across the water to see the Virginia side of the falls Great Falls Park. (It really looks different if you have time to go to both parks!)
Hikers can walk three sections of the Billy Goat Trail. Section A is the toughest and can be the most crowded, but it’s always a favorite with friends I take to the park.
Pro tip: The trail is near the Potomac River, so changes in weather often result in parts of the trail being closed. View conditions before you start your hike.
A possible exception to the day trip rule: Consider staying in one Canal district lock house. There are seven lock houses along the C&O Canal that can be rented overnight. Each is decorated in the style of a historical era from the 1830s to the 1950s the equipment fits – which means that some have electricity and showers while others have lanterns and water pumps. Choose your level of adventure and enjoy a night in the past before making your way back to Baltimore.
Editor’s Note: For references for the information Emily shares in the first paragraph of this article, see baltimore.org, The site of the Baltimore Basilica, the Fort McHenry NPS page, and the National aquarium website.