7 Weekend Getaways for When You Need to Escape DC This Summer
From underrated cities filled with museums to quaint towns with live music and amazing views.
Once summer (and all of its humidity) officially descends on DC, it may feel like time to escape the District. And luckily, our region is filled with underrated cities and sleepy hamlets that make for a perfect getaway—especially in the summer, when the outdoors, live music, and open-air dining, await.
So, whether you want to explore a new city or find your rural zen in quaint towns filled with wineries, museums, and shops, you can escape to one of these mid-Atlantic destinations. We’ve rounded up seven getaways in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, and West Virginia, that make perfect escapes from the city, so get out of town and head to one of these spots while the season lasts.
Though just an hour away from DC, Loudoun County’s rolling hills will feel like a true respite from city life this summer.
Loudoun is horse and wine country and it's impossible to visit here without encountering both. The area is home to nearly 50 wineries, many with ample picnic grounds and Adirondack chairs to pass the afternoon while sipping red and white varietals. Make it a full tour with stops at The Winery at La Grange in Middleburg, Endhardt Vineyards in Purcellville, Old Farm Winery at Hartland, and Round Hill’s William Gap Vineyard, where you can host a private wine dinner for you and your friends. When you’ve had enough of the heat and wine, stop in at the stately National Sporting Library & Museum in Middleburg. The compact museum provides an artistic window into the equine-related pursuits so deeply ingrained in the area.
Spend the night at Goodstone, just outside of Middleburg, where you’ll find a sprawling property, fine dining restaurant, and tempting infinity pool.
Distance from DC: About an hour
New art exhibits, restaurants, and bakeries make Baltimore a worthwhile foodie destination to revisit this season.
If you’re looking to have a full weekend dedicated to art, start at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where a buzzworthy retrospective of works by the American painter Joan Mitchell runs through August 14. Continue your art journey nearby at the Walters Art Museum, where you can see an exhibit highlighting its recent acquisitions. Families headed to the city have plenty of attractions at their disposal, too, including The National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Maryland Science Center, and the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
Baltimore is home to tons of incredible bars and restaurants that will keep you occupied into the night. No Way Rosé recently opened in the Federal Hill neighborhood and serves elegant French cuisine, creative cocktails, and a full raw bar. Other notable new restaurants include The Manor, a seasonal eatery and lounge in the Mount Vernon neighborhood, known for its weekend drag brunches, and Liora, Baltimore’s first upscale plant-based restaurant.
If you stay the night, soak up some luxury with a stay at the historic Sagamore Pendry Hotel or the brand new Canopy at Harbor Point.
Distance from DC: One hour
The Eastern Shore’s waterways woo visitors in the summer, when the Chesapeake Bay shines and crabs are in season.
Architecture buffs will find a treasure trove in downtown Easton’s rehabbed historic buildings. Bluepoint Hospitality Group has turned many into glitzy restaurants, lounges, and cafes filled with priceless art and eye-catching details, including The Stewart whiskey lounge and fine dining establishment, Bas Rouge. Casual eats can be found at Roman-style pizzeria Roma Alla Pala or the Wardroom, where you can pick up wine and food products.
For a full trip focused on eating and drinking, pair wine and cheese at Crow Vineyard & Winery in Kennedyville, where you can spend the night at the property’s B&B. Or spend the night at St. Michael’s newest hotel, the 34-room boutique property Wildset, and dine at its onsite seafood restaurant Ruse. For dessert, grab a s’mores kit and toast the marshmallows at the outdoor fire pit.
Distance from DC: One hour and 30 minutes
With endless hiking possibilities and just as many dining options, Rappahannock checks all the boxes for a summer escape.
When fall arrives and the leaves change color, Shenandoah is awash in cars and even entering the park can become a challenge in itself. Instead, embrace the heat and take to the park in the summer when trails will be less crowded and seats at restaurants will be a little more open.
When you’re done hiking, drive down the Skyline Drive and exit at Sperryville, a blink-and-you-miss it culinary wonderland. Stop in at the Corner Store for fresh produce and an expertly curated wine selection, grab a cocktail at FRANCIS, and a pie at Rappahannock Pizza Kitchen.
Spend the night at the recently opened Blue Rock Inn, a renovated modern take on a country inn with five stylish rooms, an elongated koi pond, and a vineyard (just planted with help from nearby Quièvremont Winery). Watch the sunset with a drink in hand—Blue Rock’s Tasting Room serves locally procured wines, beers, and spirits. Dinner here steals the show. Bin Lu, the former chef of DC’s lauded Pineapple & Pearls, helms the restaurant where the four-course prix-fixe menu ($99) features a rotating selection of seasonal fare.
Distance from DC: One hour and 30 minutes
President Joe Biden’s hometown has long been famous for, well, being the hometown of Joe Biden. But this waterfront Northern Delaware town’s museums, riverfront, and gardens make much more than that—and the word is slowly getting out.
The city has plenty of things to do, even on blistering summer days. Visitors can stroll along the 1.3-mile Riverfront Wilmington where you’ll find dozens of shops, attractions, and eateries, including the new Taco Grande restaurant and tequila bar. A new exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum invites visitors to educate themselves about the Wilmington’s Indigenous community.
If you’re craving the outdoors, head 12 miles north to visit the famous 1,000-plus acre Longwood Gardens, located just over the Pennsylvania border. The botanical garden rounds out its summer calendar with a host of live music events.
Stay overnight in the 109-year-old historic and legendary Hotel du Pont, which recently underwent a redesign and added a modern French brasserie called Le Cavalier in 2020. The restaurant’s chef Tyler Akin co-founded the Independent Restaurant Coalition, which strives to provide restaurant relief during the pandemic and is hosting a series of chef collaboration dinners and brunches in Wilmington. Located in the same building, three-year-old DE.CO food hall sells sushi, pizza, and more.
Distance from DC: About two hours
With Charlottesville steeped in history and a countryside dotted with wineries, Central Virginia makes a great summer getaway.
Charlottesville, the home of the University of Virginia, quiets down when the students head out for summer break. Take advantage of the empty campus and explore the grounds and buildings designed by Thomas Jefferson. Stop in at the Rotunda, the Academic Village, and the room that once was Edgar Allan Poe’s dorm. For more history, trek over to Monticello and explore Jefferson’s complex and contradictory life and legacy.
The countryside around Charlottesville has abundant wineries, and Pippin Hill in North Garden and King Family in Crozet are worth visiting for both the vintages and the views. The nearby one-street town of Gordonsville has a collection of charming shops like Folkling that curates vintage clothing and quilts and Jackson & Company Market where you can pick up local goods, coffee, and delicious pastries.
Visitors can also indulge in a weekend stay at the recently revamped resort Keswick Hall, which reopened in October after an extensive multi-year renovation and has one of the most luxurious infinity pools we’ve ever seen. The new Keswick features a restaurant by acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The chef’s first Virginia restaurant, Marigold, sources produce from the hotel’s farm.
Distance from DC: Two hours and 30 minutes
The postage stamp-sized town of Thomas makes for a great summer destination, as well as a drive. An artistic enclave in this mountainous state, Thomas punches above its weight with galleries, a vintage store, a ton of pottery studios, and a seriously good coffee shop called TipTop.
The town is also legendary for its honky-tonk music venue, The Purple Fiddle. On the weekends, the venue opens its doors and hosts a range of acts, from duos just starting out to members of Americana favorites like Old Crow Medicine Show who happen to be passing through.
Country roads will lead you to the town of Davis and Blackwater Falls State Park, where you can explore the 57-foot cascade, take in the scenic views, and hike on 20 miles of trails. The recently renovated Blackwater Falls Lodge allows you to stay directly in the park with rooms offering sweeping views.
Distance from DC: About three hours