Ashburn, Virginia, is a great place to live, offering many fun activities for the whole family. But sometimes, you and your family need to get out of town for a little R&R, some sightseeing, and new experiences. Thankfully, you’re just an hour or two away from some spectacular day trip spots with something for everyone. That’s why Crème de la Crème of Port Potomac has put together our list of the best day trips you have to take near Ashburn.
Our nation’s capital is just 45 minutes away, so your Ashburn-based family is a short drive from some of the world’s best museums, monuments honoring important figures in history, family-friendly fun, and awesome eats. Washington, D.C. is home to the Smithsonian Institution, a collection of museums including the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air & Space Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of the American Indian. You can bring your family to these and other museums to explore American and international cultures through diverse history, science, and art exhibits.
In addition, you can visit the memorials scatted around the National Mall, meet animals at the National Zoo, view the White House, and tour the Capitol Building. You should also mark your calendar for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival that takes place each spring when these historic trees bloom bright pink. Enjoy more of the great outdoors by visiting the U.S. National Arboretum, hiking in Rock Creek Park, or taking a river cruise down the Potomac or Anacostia Rivers. You’ll also find delicious restaurants all around the city, but some of the best are in Downtown, Riverfront, and Dupont Circle.
Head north over the state line to Frederick, which is just under an hour’s drive. Frederick is a very historic town that’s got a small-town feel, plenty of beautiful nature to explore, and a bunch of fun activities to keep everyone in the family busy all day or weekend.
Go explore Catoctin Mountain Park or Cunningham Falls State Park just outside of town as both are amazing places to hike, especially in the fall when the leaves are turning. In nearby Walkersville, you’ll find the Fountain Rock Park & Nature Center, where they have hands-on activities for kids.You can also visit local farms and orchards to pick fresh produce, taste farm fresh food, and enjoy a seasonal festival. Meanwhile, visit the Green Meadows Petting Farm, which lets you get up close and personal with the farm animals, and Baugher’s Orchard, which offers hayrides in the fall.
If you’re bringing the kids, consider heading to one of the town’s arcades, mini golf courses, indoor playgrounds, outdoor ropes courses, or escape rooms. Go feed the animals at Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, or visit the cool museums around town, including the Children’s Museum of Rose Hill Manor, the Roads & Rails Museum, and the Museum of Frederick County History. If the kids are staying home, enjoy a parents’ day out at some of Frederick’s local breweries, “hike” the Frederick Wine Trail, or treat yourself to some world-class fine dining and boutique shopping in historic downtown.
Just over an hour away from Ashburn is historic Alexandria and Mount Vernon, the expansive estate of first president George Washington. Of course, visiting this immaculately preserved historical home turned museum is a must for every history buff. You can see the bedrooms, dining room, slaves quarters, distillery, and other areas of the property to learn more about Washington, his life and work, and the people who worked on the estate. You can even pay your respects to the president and the slaves who worked here by visiting Washington’s Tomb and the Slave Memorial on site.
However, Alexandria is an amazing place to visit on its own. There are dozens of amazing historical sites, including museums, historical homes and buildings, and Old Town structures that now house restaurants and shops. You might take the King Street Trolley to shop along the Mile, walk the Wilkes Street Tunnel, or take a water cruise on the Potomac. You should definitely visit the Freedom House Museum (once renovations are finished), the nation’s skinniest house known as the Spite House, and the many beautiful parks. If you’re into biking, take a trip on the Mount Vernon Trail from the estate.
Shenandoah National Park
About 1.25 hours west of Ashburn is the amazing Shenandoah National Park, which has more than 200,000 acres of dense forestland that’s home to many native species. This park offers plenty of camping opportunities, including cabin lodging, tent and RV campgrounds, and primitive wilderness camping. Whether you’re staying for the night or just coming for the day, you have many fun activities to enjoy, no matter the season.
Gas up the family vehicle for a long, scenic drive through along the park’s Skyline Drive, which stretches 105 miles north to south through the park. Or, park the car, grab your hiking gear, and traverse some of the 500 miles of nature trails. You have 45 different trails to choose from, ranging from easy, short hikes to challenging, multi-day hikes that require overnight stays. You can hike to some of the beautiful waterfalls or through areas where opportunities for birding and wildlife spotting are abundant. Bring a picnic or eat at one of the park’s lodges, restaurants, and markets.
Chesapeake Beach, Maryland
Head over to Chesapeake Beach, Maryland, about an hour-and-a-half east of Ashburn. The trip to the beach is cool since you can go through Washington D.C. and catch glimpses of the monuments or through Alexandria and its beautiful landscape. But when you get to Chesapeake Beach, expect a lot of opportunities to go fishing, boating, and swimming in the bay. In fact, there are many fishing charter companies that offer sportfishing tours for anglers of all kinds.
Walk along the Heritage Trail that takes you from the Chesapeake Beach Railway Museum along the waterfront boardwalks to Bayfront Park. While Bayfront Park is currently closed, you can still enjoy Breezy Point Beach, which has a beautiful sandy beach, a fishing and crabbing pier, a playground, grills, and a campground. Spend a day at the Chesapeake Beach Water Park where your family can enjoy water slides, wading pools, and a lazy river. Both parks are open seasonally.
So there you have it, five must-visit day trip destinations around Ashburn, Virginia. Did we miss your family’s favorite short trip spots in Virginia and nearby Maryland and West Virginia? Contact us with your suggestions, and we’ll be sure to add them to our list!