Assateague Island National Seashore, MD and VA
Distance from DC: 150 miles, 3 hour drive
In a nutshell: This 37-mile island is inhabited by wild ponies cared for by the National Park Service.
What to do: The best way to experience Assateague is really to camp (beachside instead of bayside for better views and fewer bugs). But if you’re not one for roughing it, try the Refuge Inn, which feels woodsy and rustic, with modern amenities like a pool, Wi-Fi, and free breakfast. Assateague is full of potential adventures, including hiking and biking trails, sunbathing and swimming, or just gazing at the wild ponies. Other attractions include the 142ft high Assateague Lighthouse, where visitors can climb to the top and see for 19 nautical miles.
If you’re lucky, you’ll be staying at Assateague during a rocket launch at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, just 15 miles from the beach. On the flat beach, visitors can view the complete trajectory of a rocket launch, which head to the International Space Station or into lunar orbit. When you get sick of s’mores (it happens), there are plenty of places to dine in West Ocean City, just six miles down the road. Watch the sunset and live music with an Orange Crush in hand at Harborside, then have dinner just across the water at Shark on the Harbor -- we recommend the alcoholic birch beer and crab-stuffed peppers. And bring some Fisher’s Popcorn back to camp!