Day Trips & Excursions
Washington, DC is central to many of the United States' most important historic attractions. Attendees who come early or stay late can visit the places where the fight for freedom began. Bring the family, and let them learn about the founding fathers and settlers who came to the shores of the Atlantic, looking for new frontiers and horizons. Select from one or more of the locations we recommend for your added enjoyment and enrichment.
Just drive 30 miles, or forty-five minutes, east on Route 50 at Exit 24, and you will find yourself at the Capital of the great state of Maryland. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, the quaint and historic old town of Annapolis will take your breath away. The harbor view alone is worth the effort. Ships of all sizes and types bob up and down in their moorings, providing an opportunity to use up many rolls of film. This quaint village is alive with activity all year round, offering shopping opportunities, fine dining on the water, and rustic homes and buildings dating back to the early 1800's. The historic state capitol building overlooks this peaceful gem of a city, buttressed by the US Naval Academy. You will find that there are so many things to see and do that you will wonder why you didn't take more days off to enjoy the area.
If you prefer to stretch your legs and see the most significant places, there are many tours that will accommodate your desires. Guides dressed in colonial garb will help you discover the history of Annapolis and the US Naval Academy. Daily tours run from April through October starting at 10:30 am from the Visitors Center located at 26 West Street and at 1:30 pm from the Information Booth located at the City Dock. The Naval Academy Guide Service located at Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, provides walking tours of the academy from March through November, Monday through Friday, 10 am to 3 pm, Saturday, 9:30 am to 3 pm and Sunday, 12:30 to 2:30 pm. Armel-Leftwich Visitor Center, 52 King George Street, 410-263-2344, www.navyonline.com. Also visit www.usna.edu/Museum for more information.
If you prefer to view the area from the water, Watermark Cruises offers both a 40 and 90 minute narrated boat tours and "Day on the Bay" cruises to St. Michaels, Rock Hall, and Baltimore that leave from Annapolis Harbor. Contact Tour Information at 410-268-7600 or visit the website at www.watermarkcruises.com.
Baltimore's Inner Harbor
If your wanderlust wants to take you from one bustling city to the other, drive 45 miles from DC north on I-95 to Baltimore, site of NAHC's 25th Annual Meeting next year. Spend the day in the exciting Inner Harbor, which offers 100's of shopping opportunities, fine dining, and great views of the water. Harborplace and The Gallery rank as this city's number one tourist attraction. Points of interest include the American Visionary Art Museum, the Baltimore Maritime Museum, Fort McHenry National Park/Monument, the newly-expanded Maryland Science Center, the Museum of Industry, the National Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Pavilion, Port Discovery Children's Museum, and the Pride of Baltimore II, a schooner replica. Tours of visiting tall ships and navy vessels are also available at this seaboard location.
Gettysburg, Antietam, South Mountain and Harper's Ferry
For all of you Civil War buffs that have never visited these historic places, please take the effort to drive to the battlefields. The first of these four is Gettysburg, which is about a 80 mile drive on US 15 from downtown Frederick, MD into Pennsylvania. If you decide to take this trip, plan on leaving early in the morning so that you can absorb all of the Gettysburg Civil War Trail to the somber battlefield. Note that this national park closes at 5 pm. Your visit should also include a tour of the town of Gettysburg, the Rupp House and other interesting shops and attractions.
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If you choose to visit the other three sites, plan on getting an early start from Frederick, heading west to Patrick Street that ultimately becomes Route 40. You need to be on the lookout for the left turn onto Alternate 40 that is the historic National Road and the Antietam Civil War Trail. Alternate 40 passes over South Mountain through Turner's Gap where the Blue and the Grey engaged in battle on September 14, 1862. At South Mountain Inn, whose parking lot was the headquarters for the Confederate army, you'll find any number of Civil War Trail signposts. Proceeding down the other side of this mountain, you will arrive in Boonsboro where you will need to turn left onto Route 34 to Sharpsburg. After driving approximately 6 miles, turn right on Route 65 and travel on to the Antietam National Battlefield. Give yourself a respite and have lunch in Shepherdstown, which you'll find positioned right off of Route 34 after viewing the battlefield, and proceeding left onto Route 230. Follow this route and follow the signs to Harper's Ferry. In approximately 15 minutes, you'll want to turn left onto US 340 and with-in minutes; you'll arrive at the Harper's Ferry national park parking lot.
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Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
The small and picturesque Harpers Ferry area, 70 miles from Washington, DC, has served in a pivotal role in several events that impacted the nation's history. This city, on the border of Maryland and West Virginia, was made famous by John Brown's raid on the U.S. Arsenal here. Brown believed if he captured enough guns and armed to slaves, they would unite into an army a throw off the yoke of what he called "Southern Oppression." Brown was caught and most of his band of men was killed. Since the 1950s, the National Park Service has tried to rehabilitate and restore the town while at the same time interpret its historical importance to the nearly 2 million people who visit it each year.
Located near Charlottesville, VA, Monticello is 115 miles or a four-hour drive from DC. Monticello is the autobiographical masterpiece of Thomas Jefferson, designed and redesigned and built and rebuilt for more than forty years. Thomas Jefferson called Monticello his "essay in architecture." Reflecting the genius and versatility of its creator, Jefferson's Monticello is a monument to a scrupulous interest in architecture, landscaping, agriculture, and domestic comforts. The remarkable house, one of America's most famous, is filled with ingenious devices and mementos of this revered founding father. Jefferson, the only architect ever to serve as president, believed this house was his individual exploration and expression of classical architecture. The home and plantation features extensive grounds, romantic gardens, and elegant furnishings, along with some of Jefferson's prized personal belongings. Guided tours are available throughout the year, and include visits to the outdoor gardens and plantation offered during your trip to DC in April. Visit http://www.monticello.org/ for more information.
Just outside of DC and only 14 miles away, this historic mansion of our first president is re-mark able, due to its colorfulness and original heirlooms. The view of the Potomac from this site will align your thoughts with George Washington's and confirm his rationale for choosing this prime spot as his estate. Your visit should include the Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, the George Washington Museum, Archaeology and Restoration Museum, Slave Memorial and Washington's Tomb. Out of doors, you can experience a tour of the gardens, hike the Forest Trail and visit the Pioneer Farmer site. The newest additions include a working 18th century mill at George Washington's Gristmill.
Exploring the Chesapeake Bay
The Bay is only about 70 miles away and can be reached in about an hour and a half by car. Travel to the east means exploring the Chesapeake Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. Day cruises are available from the Baltimore's Harbor Place docks and should not be missed. The weather in late March should be perfect for a sail. Make sure you take time to visit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD. From learning the oyster trade to the art of ship building, this museum makes the bay accessible through real people, real work, and original exhibits. By the time you're done, you'll feel like a native.
Maryland's Eastern Shore
With spots as close as an hour away and as far as almost four, the shore along the Chesapeake Bay can offer just about anything. Whether you crave a day of some of the nation's best deep sea fishing, or want to relax on a quiet beach, the Chesapeake and Eastern shore have definitely got it. The Eastern Shore is probably most famous for its crabs. With the Chesapeake once again producing some of the biggest and most delicious blue crabs, a stop by a classic Maryland crab shack is a must if you visit the region. Visit www.blue-crab.org for a full list of locations and directions. The Eastern Shore is also very well known for its wildlife. With several wildlife refuges, there are tremendous concentrations of rare animals, especially birds.
Rehoboth Beach is located 120 miles from DC on the Delaware shore of the Atlantic. This beautiful summer get away is less than a 3 hour drive due east from DC. Rehoboth stakes claim to one of the nation's most well known boardwalks. With boardwalk fries, funnel cake, games, amusement parks, and anything else you can imagine, this boardwalk is home to some great beach characters. Rehoboth is a favorite escape for Washingtonians with the beach bug. It is a great spot to escape the humidity and hustle and bustle of the city and relax on a beautiful beach.
Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown
Take a step back in time and visit the Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, where our country established its roots in the 17th century. Located 150 miles from DC, you will learn about the site of the first official Thanksgiving, enjoy the history, the food and the fun. Period costumes of the local residents and shop owners add to the colonial ambiance of this area.
Williamsburg was the thriving capital of Virginia when the dream of American freedom and independence was taking shape. Thanks in large part to philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., Colonial Williamsburg is the best preserved colonial city in America. From 1699 to 1780, Williamsburg was the political, cultural, and educational center of what was then the largest, most populous, and most influential of the American colonies. It was here that the fundamental concepts of our republic - responsible leadership, a sense of public service, self-government, and individual liberty - were nurtured under the leadership of patriots such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and Peyton Randolph. Today, more than 85 percent of the 18th-century capital's original colonial town is open to the public.
Stop at the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center and discover the way the early settlers spent their first days on this continent, the difficulties they endured and the lifestyle they established. Just walking along the streets of these towns and visiting the homes they constructed will leave your decorating penchants room to expand your plans for refurbishing your own house. If ever there was a place to utilize some acquisition therapy, this is it. In addition to the quaint shops that offer unique gifts, artifacts, antiques and the like, Prime Outlets at Williamsburg, Patriot Plaza Premium Outlets and the Williamsburg Outlet Mall which has more than 150 outlet stores, will tempt your wallet. Plan on visiting the Williamsburg Pottery and the Williams-burg Candle Factory as well. Visit www.VisitWilliamsburg.com to learn more or call toll free, 1-800-368-6511, Department 3.
Pennsylvania Dutch Country
About 125 miles away, it can be reached in just about two hours. Home to Harrisburg - the state capital of Pennsylvania, Hershey - the chocolate capital of the world and Lancaster County - the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country, offers a host of diverse attractions no traveler should miss. From railroads to coal mine tours, America's oldest brewery to amusement parks, and battlegrounds to incredible live theater, this region has more than enough sights and activities to enchant. Explore the simple yet stunning beauty of Amish Country. Don't forget to pack your fly rod to experience the best trout fishing in the United States.
About 130 miles and just over a two hour drive, Philadelphia is famous as the birthplace of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the cradle of liberty offers much more than cobblestone streets and historical landmarks. Cultural, culinary, artistic and ethnic treasures abound in this city and its surrounding countryside. The greatest concentration of American history can be found just blocks away at Independence National Historical Park, including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall - where the Founding Fathers met and hammered out the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. While you're there, make sure to try one of their famous Philly cheese steaks and renowned soft pretzels from one of the many street vendors. Seeing the Liberty Bell which is located near Independence Hall and visiting Benjamin Franklin's home are but a few of the events that pulls thousands of visitors to this great city every year.
Atlantic City, New Jersey
About 180 miles away, Atlantic City is only three hours away. The City's famous boardwalk is also the site of the Miss America Pageant. Some 30 years ago, casino gambling was brought in to help restore the luster to this city whose glamour had faded as air travel made Las Vegas more accessible. The city offers sun and surf and fun and for those who want it, gambling within one convenient location.
New York, NY
New York is some 200 miles away and is easily accessible by bus, train, or car in around four hours. There is nothing like the Big Apple. Simply stated, NYC has more of the best to delight and entertain than anywhere in the world: 150 world-class museums, 18,000 restaurants, scores of Broadway theaters, and an unbelievable array of shopping. New York City bursts with blockbuster exhibits, world-class music and Broadway shows not to mention great sightseeing, shopping, and special events. It truly is the city where the only limit is your imagination.