7 Weekend Getaways for When You Need to Escape DC This Winter
From underrated cities filled with museums to quaint towns with ski slopes and relaxing spas.
Once the holidays wind down and winter truly descends on DC, it may feel like time to escape the city. And luckily, our region is filled with underrated cities and sleepy hamlets that make for a perfect getaway—especially in the winter, when you can enjoy the quiet beauty without all the crowds.
So whether you want to hit the slopes at one of the best places to ski near DC or find your zen in quaint towns filled with wineries, museums, and spas, you can escape the winter doldrums at these mid-Atlantic destinations. We’ve rounded up seven getaways in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania that make perfect escapes from the city, so get out of town and head to one of these spots before the season ends.
Distance from DC: About two hours
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 is awash in things to do, even on blustering winter days. Visitors can stroll along the 1.3-mile Riverfront Wilmington where you’ll find dozens of shops, attractions, and eateries, the newest of which is Taco Grande restaurant and tequila bar. A new exhibition at the Delaware Art Museum celebrates the 50th anniversary of a groundbreaking Black art exhibit with nearly 100 works of art. Or head 12 miles north to visit the famous 1,000-plus acre Longwood Gardens, located just over the Pennsylvania border. The botanical garden is hosting Winter Wonder, a pop-up featuring hundreds of orchids and winter perennials.
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 an hour
Though just an hour away from DC, Loudoun County’s rolling hills will feel like a true respite from city life this winter.
The area is home to nearly 50 wineries, where you can cozy up next to a wood-burning fireplace or an outdoor fire pit while sipping red and white varietals. Several new wineries have opened over the past year, including 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.
Enjoy massages, body wraps, and other spa treatments at Salamander Resort & Spa or Landsdowne Resort & Spa. Both resorts are located in quaint towns—Middleburg and Leesburg—that are worth exploring for their boutiques and restaurants located in eye-catching historic buildings.
Distance from DC: One hour
New art exhibits, restaurants, and bakeries make Baltimore a worthwhile destination to revisit this season.
Known for its extensive collection of works by Henri Matisse and contemporary art, the Baltimore Museum of Art’s newest exhibit, which begins March 6, explores the legacy of American painter Joan Mitchell. If you’re looking to have a full weekend dedicated to art, expand your journey to the nearby 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.
Beyond all of the great things to do by day, Baltimore is home to tons of incredible bars and restaurants that will keep you occupied into the night. Darker than Blue Cafe recently reopened in the Mount Vernon neighborhood after closing eight years ago and is serving the same memorable chicken and waffles and blackened catfish. So that’s a must-visit if you never got to try its first iteration. Other notable restaurants that opened in the last year include the stylish, Black-owned BLK Swan, restaurant and butcher John Brown’s General & Butchery, and Busboys and Poets’ first Baltimore outpost. To satisfy your sweet tooth, pick up a treat from one of Baltimore’s Black-owned dessert shops: the vegan Cajou Creamery or Aunt Kelly’s Cookies.
Distance from DC: Two hours and 30 minutes
With the Blue Ridge Mountains offering both a scenic backdrop and excellent ski slopes, Central Virginia makes a great winter getaway. The family-friendly Wintergreen Resort in Nellysford offers 26 slopes for everyone from newbies to expert skiers, as well as tubing and snowboarding—and there’s a heated indoor pool and spa, perfect for unwinding after a day of downhill racing.
Visitors can also indulge in a weekend stay at the legendary luxury resort Keswick Hall, which reopened in October after an extensive multi-year renovation. The new features include acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s first Virginia restaurant, Marigold, which sources produce from the hotel’s farm.
Distance from DC: One hour and 30 minutes
While the Eastern Shore’s waterways woo visitors in the summer, the area’s restaurants, wineries, and art galleries make it an idyllic getaway during the winter months.
Dubbed the cultural capital of the Eastern Shore, Easton is home to Studio B Art Gallery, the Trippe Gallery, and other art venues where you can purchase paintings that depict the area’s stunning landscapes.
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 LLC in Kennedyville, where you can spend the night at the property’s B&B if you book at least two nights and show proof of vaccination. 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: Four hours
This former rust-belt town has become a magnet for food, beer, and art lovers looking for an affordable weekend of restaurant and museum hopping.
Visit the four museums that comprise the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, starting with the Warhol Museum. Featuring exhibits and interactive experiences on eight floors, it’s bound to enhance your appreciation of pop art’s most famous proponent. Nature and bird lovers can head to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens for an orchid and bonsai show or the National Aviary.
Distance from DC: Three hours
With abundant state parks, a freshwater lake that covers 3,900 acres, and a ski resort, Deep Creek Lake offers a great winter getaway for outdoor lovers.
Winters in Western Maryland were practically made for skiing, so a visit to Deep Creek Lake is an ideal way to experience the season. Wisp Resort features 33 slopes covering 11 miles and ranging in difficulty for novice and expert skiers and snowboarders. The resort also offers lessons for those who have never hit the slopes or need a refresher. For cross-country skiers, head to one of the trails in the county’s seven state parks.