Five Favorite Day Trips from DC

Five Favorites, Travel

Maybe you’re just in town for a few days or maybe you’re looking to avoid a tourist rush, but there’s plenty of quick trips worth taking that’ll get you outside the city. These are my five personal favorite day trips from DC:

Harpers Ferry

A friend recently visited from Indiana and wanted to cross West Virginia off her list of states unvisited. We initially planned a longer trip, but when we ran out of time, we looked a little closer to home. Harpers Ferry is a little town with history and nature galore. The town was home to John Brown’s rebellion but also has a great hike and plenty of tubing/rafting/kayaking opportunities. The hour and a half drive from the city was easy enough and parking was $15 for a spot through the National Park Service. We hiked the Maryland Heights Trail to the overlook and grabbed lunch in town.

Luray Caverns

If you’re looking to beat the heat, Luray Caverns is a fantastic option. To get there from the city is a beautiful drive through Virginia that’ll take you through Shenandoah. I’ve been in plenty of caves in my time (like four or five, okay? That’s a lot…) and Luray Caverns is amazing. Your guided walk through the caves is both scientifically fascinating and historically interesting. Plus the temperature inside always feels about 60 degrees.

Baltimore Aquarium

Maybe you’ve made one too many trips to the National Zoo and need to mix up your animal intake – take a drive up to Baltimore’s National Aquarium. The Inner Harbor has plenty of cool restaurants and the aquarium is amazing. I could stare at the jellyfish for hours, but there’s also other fish and critters to learn about. Bonus points: they’ve stopped their dolphin shows and are now focused even more on sustainability and the impact on local water systems.

Delaware Beaches

I’m not a huge beach person – too much sand, too many people, too high a chance for sunburn. But I love the sound of the ocean. Delaware has some lovely beaches within a 3 hour drive (if you’re lucky). Rehobeth and Bethany both have great beaches with plenty of food nearby. My personal favorite stop is Lewes Beach which is a little quieter and less busy but still just as cute. Another tip: visit off season – it won’t be a thousand degrees and packed in October or May but you’ll still get to hear the water.

Old Town Alexandria

Maybe you don’t have a car or maybe you only have a half day (or maybe you’re seriously inspired by my post about my favorite part of the Metro area), but Old Town Alexandria is worth the trip. Metro to the end of King Street and walk towards the water. After stopping in every cute shop and sampling ice cream, enjoy a wander along the water. You can either make the hike back to the Metro or hop on the free King Street Trolley.

What’s your favorite day trip from the city?

5 Favorite Things: Venice

Five Favorites, Travel

I’m gonna make a casual series here called my five favorite things. As part of my dual need to express gratitude and live simply, I figured that picking some of the cool places I’ve been and identifying my five favorite things about them would be a satisfying, yet stress free way to show my love in a minimalist way. So enjoy the first installment: Venice!

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Wandering at Night

Some of you may have heard that Venice is going to start limiting the number of tourists on special occasions and is moving their cruise ships out of the closer harbor. There’s a reason. The city is overrun with tourist groups, following a tour guide with a flag, clogging up the tiny side roads. It’s pretty miserable to walk the city when there are so many (inconsiderate) tourists blocking your view and your path. But what’s great about Venice is that at 6:30 pm, the tourists tend to leave. Whether their buses are departing for their next stop or their cruise ships are leaving or they just don’t think they’ll get the best Instagram pictures at night, everyone disappears.

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Nighttime is the best time to wander the little streets and peak down alleyways and canals. I one hundred percent recommend putting away Google Maps and just getting lost for a bit. You’ll eventually reach the edge of the city, but the best parts of Venice are hidden away, discoverable by foot, inhabited by local kids playing soccer in the streets.

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Murano

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To escape the crowds, we hopped a ferry to Murano. Murano is home to glassmakers galore and they display their art everywhere. Whether you’re looking for a new chandelier or just want to window shop, the island is worth a visit. It’s also awfully colorful and gives you all the good vibes without the crowds. We were able to pop over in the mid morning and grab an early-ish lunch for cheap. Spending an hour or two wandering about was lovely. Plus the ferry back might take the scenic route and show you other islands and what Venice used to be: swamp land!

The Church with The Views

We choose to skip St. Mark’s Basilica¬†as we only had a day to explore and didn’t fancy standing in line for hours. But that’s okay, because Venice is packed with hundreds of glorious churches. On your wanders, pop your head in to a church. Be respectful and take a look around. Even for the non-religious, it’s an experience not to be missed.

If you want to see a beautiful church and get great views, hop a ferry to S. Giorgio. You’ll be right in front of the Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore. The Abbazia di San Giorgia Maggiore has a bell tower you can take an elevator up to see a stunning view of Venice. The view took my breath away, especially as we arrived as the sun was setting.

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Cemetery Island

If you’re going to visit Murano, you might just stop at the cemetery island on your way. The Cimitero di San Michele is an island that is a still active cemetery. Families were there to visit their loved ones while we wandered. If I inherited one thing from my mother, it’s her love of wandering through old cemeteries. Many of the tombstones had little photos of the dead, which was both touching and a little bizarre. There was still quite a bit of unused space on the island, but apparently they have plans to expand, and the island isn’t a final resting place, as you’re only guaranteed ten years there. I thought it was fascinating and it was both calming and quiet.

The Pups!

This may seem silly, but one of my favorite things about Venice was all the puppies. Venice was full of sweet, well-behaved, pups. If you’re not a dog fan, the people watching is also excellent. Take some time out from running from site to site, church to church, to watch the locals and tourists alike. We stayed off the island and were able to walk to a small bakery for breakfast in the morning. They remembered our order on the second day and were joking with us as we nibbled on our delicious pastries. Plus on our way there, we met the sweetest pup!31543548_10214148234873735_2994261155058286592_n

Sometimes the best thing to do in a new city is blend in, find the locals, and skip the touristy spots in favor of pups and a new perspective.

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