Washington, DC has so many thing to do for families with young adults and kids. However, sometimes its nice to get out of the nation’s capital to experience some of the best family-friendly day trips. There is something for everyone, from natural world sights to historic sites.
Best Day Trips Places In Washington DC For Families
City life can be busy, but if you and your family want to get away from the concrete jungle for a day, there are many places you can drive to. You can relax in quiet country areas, have thrilling adventures in theme parks, or learn about the United States’ historical past. Now, fasten your seatbelts because we’re about to leave the city boundaries and discover some of the most amazing spots within a short distance from Washington.
We have organized these from closest to furthest to make it convenient for your planning.
Day Trips From DC For Families: 1 Hour Or Less
Here are some quick and easy day trips you can do with your family from Washington DC.
Mount Vernon – 30 Minutes From DC
Mount Vernon is the beloved residence and historic home of George Washington, the first President of the United States. The former residence of the nation’s First President is located roughly 15 miles south of Washington, D.C. and 8 miles south of Alexandria, Virginia. It can also be easily accessed by public transportation if you do not have a car.
Dig into history as you wander the beautiful mansion. There’s much to see and do in Mount Vernon. Stroll through beautiful gardens that document Washington’s love for the outdoors. Take in breathtaking river vistas, learn about American history, and pay your respects at Washington’s grave. The estate often conducts historical events and activities, entertaining people of all ages.
National Harbor, Maryland – 30 Minutes From DC
The Maryland community of National Harbor was built on the banks of the Potomac River. There are many places to eat, shop, and have fun. This is a great day trip for families and it is also a very easy day trip for families. There is not much historical appeal but there is plenty to do and see.
During holidays and special seasons the Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor has special events and things to do. It’s one of the more family friend hotels in the Washington DC area. Additionally, the famous Capital Wheel is a giant ferris wheel that is fun for all ages. If you do not have a car, you can access National Harbor via Water Taxi from the DC Wharf. Remember to check timings to make sure you can get there and back at a decent time. You can also opt to take the ferry there and then take a ride share back.
Great Falls Park – 30 Minutes From DC
Great Falls Park is an easy day trip from Washington DC. One of the entrances to the park is located in Potomac, MD and is just 30 minutes outside of the city. While there are many places to hike in the DC area, this one is one of the most popular.
Great Falls Park sits directly on the banks of the Potomac River. It is home to a few of the most spectacular waterfalls in the nation. Your family can take a boat ride down the river or go to the top of the falls for views that will steal your breath away. Picnic and play areas are also available for families.
Great Falls Park is a great area to spend a day in the beautiful outdoors, whether you want to go hiking, boating, or just relax.
Old Town Alexandria
Old Town Alexandria – 30 Minutes From DC (or less)
Just across the river from Washington DC is Old Town Alexandria. This quaint part of the larger city of Alexandria is a great place for families to spend the day. Stroll through the historic streets and grab a bite to eat with your family at one of the many waterfront restaurants. If you are feeling energetic you can combine a visit to Alexandria with a visit to Mount Vernon or even National Harbor. The DC Water Taxi will also take you here if you do not have a car or if you feel like having a unique experience with your family.
National Aquarium In Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
National Aquarium In Baltimore – 45 Minutes From DC
Anyone with even a passing interest in marine life should make the trip to Baltimore to see the National Aquarium. There is something for everyone among the approximately 20,000 creatures representing over 700 species. You may interact with some of the most fascinating animals on the planet, from sharks and rays to penguins and jellyfish.
The preservation of marine life is the subject of several of the museum’s interactive displays. The National Aquarium is a fantastic venue for teaching people about the value of conserving marine ecosystems.
After visiting the National Aquarium, you can have lunch with your family along the Inner Harbor of Baltimore. There are many fun things to do an see in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as well as many dining options.
The location of Baltimore also makes it a great option when it comes to day trips from DC for families. The city is a short drive from Washington DC if you avoid high traffic times. If you do not have a car, the train from Union Station is also a quick and easy way to get to Baltimore.
Outlet Shopping – 30 Minutes To 1 Hour From DC
If you have young teens, they may enjoy a day of shopping at one of the many outlets in the DC area. Depending on which outlet you head to it can be either 30 minutes away or about 1 hour away from DC.
The Tanger Outlets are home to nearly a hundred unique boutiques where you can discover deep discounts on designer goods. This is located near National Harbor and can be combined with a trip to this area. There are more than 30 restaurants in National Harbor area that serve a wide range of cuisines.
Leesburg Premium Outlets are another great option when it comes to great shopping deals. Some of the stores include Armani Outlet, BOSS Outlet, Burberry, Coach, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren, Restoration Hardware, Tory Burch, Vineyard Vines, Under Armour, UGG, and Williams-Sonoma. It is located 17 miles west of Dulles International Airport and 35 miles from Washington, D.C.
Finally, Clarksburg Outlets in Maryland are also a popular destination for shopping. As the name implies, it is located in Clarksburg, Maryland and has more than 90 stores, including Coach, Kate Spade, Nike Factory Store, Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store, Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th, Tory Burch, and Under Armour. It is conveniently located right off I-270 in Montgomery County, Maryland, and is just 30 miles north of Washington, D.C.
Six Flags America – 45 Minutes From DC
The amusement park Six Flags America is perfect for a day out with the kids. Over a hundred rides and attractions ensure everyone will have a good time. Various thrill rides are available, from roller coasters to water slides.
Superman: Ride of Steel, one of the park’s tallest and fastest roller coasters, is only one of over ten rides available at Six Flags America. There are additional entertainment options, such as games and food. Come to Six Flags America and enjoy the rides and shows for yourself.
Visit Barrel Oak Winery – 1 Hour From DC
This winery is located in Delaplane, Virginia and is about an hours drive from the nation’s capital. This winery is known for being kid friendly and it is also one of the fewer wineries that serves kid friendly food most weekends. You can check their calendar to see which events are going on and if they are serving freshly made pizza during the time that you want to take a day trip. In addition, there’s plenty of open space for your kids to run around while you enjoy a wine tasting.
Sugar Loaf Winery, Maryland – 1 Hour From DC
Sugar Loaf Mountain Vineyard is located in Dickerson, MD. The winery has a very welcoming and family-oriented atmosphere. There’s a special play zone for kids and a larger area for them to run around, jump, and play games. You can either buy snacks on-site or bring your own treats. There’s a large parking lot making it easy for you to visit with your children. It’s a great place to hang out for the day, enjoying wine and time with family.
Day Trips From DC For Families: More Than An Hour From DC
If you’re looking for even more options when it comes to road trips from DC, here are more places you can visit. Some are a bit further away and you may benefit from staying overnight.
Annapolis, Maryland – 1 Hour 15 Minutes From DC
Annapolis is great for a day trip from Washington DC. It is not too far and is a great place to walk around with your family. There are tons of cute stores and historical buildings to check out and the water views are great. In the warmer months, you can also book a sailing trip and enjoy the water.
Some kid friendly activities here include Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake, which offers pirate-themed cruises for children and Quiet Waters Park. This venue has playgrounds, walking trails, and a skate park. Some families may also enjoy visiting the United States Naval Academy. There are guided tours of the campus and museum available as well.
King’s Dominion – 90 Minutes From DC
Kings Dominion is an amusement park located in Doswell, Virginia, approximately miles north of Richmond and 75 miles south of Washington, D.C. The park is owned and operated by Cedar Fair and covers an area of 400 acres. It has over 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including 13 roller coasters and a 20-acre water park called Soak City. Some of the park’s most popular rides include the Intimidator 305, the Dominator, and the Twisted Timbers roller coasters. Kings Dominion is also known for its seasonal events, such as Halloween Haunt and WinterFest
Harpers Ferry – 90 Minutes From DC
The history at Harpers Ferry is more than just stories spoken over the campfire. Travel to Harpers Ferry in West Virginia and immerse yourself in the history of the American Civil War. People of all ages may enjoy themselves here as if they had entered a real-life history book.
Harpers Ferry’s historical importance is equal to its natural splendor. Walk the paths where historic conflicts occurred and take in the sights that mesmerized early settlers and troops. Its location makes this ancient city more tranquil on the river.
Gunpower Falls State Park – 90 Minutes From DC
Gunpowder Falls State Park is a public recreation area located in northeastern Baltimore County and western Harford County, Maryland. The park has a wide range of recreational activities, including hiking, fishing, canoeing/kayaking, and camping. The Hammerman Area part of the park even has a beach and swimming area. For outdoor enthusiasts and families that like to be active a day here hiking can be the best way to spend time together.
Luray Caverns – 2 Hours From DC
Luray Caverns are a fascinating subterranean realm with impressive structures like stalagmites and stalactites. The caverns and the unusual geology that formed them have a rich history, which you can learn about on a guided tour.
The Great Stalacpipe Organ, built from 375 stalactites and played by tapping them, is the most significant musical instrument in the world. A trip to Luray Caverns is an adventure the entire family will never forget.
Luray Caverns is a 2 hour drive from Washington DC. If you are only interested in seeing the caves, a day trip is a great way to do it. There are other activities in Luray, Virginia that you can explore if you are interested in staying longer, from hiking to wine tasting.
Take The Train To Philadelphia – 2 Hours From DC
Philadelphia is a great day trip from Washington DC. You can head there on an early morning train and have breakfast on the journey. Once you arrive there are so many things to explore. From the Philadelphia Art Museum where the famous Rocky steps are to Independence Hall, you will have plenty to see.
The historical significance of the building known as Independence Hall in Philadelphia makes it a great destination for a one-day trip. Visit this historically significant location and see the renowned Liberty Bell. It is a great city for educating and entertaining your family about the country’s history and independence struggle.
Shenandoah National Park – 2 Hours From DC
Shenandoah National Park is a fantastic place to go away and explore the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountains. Skyline Drive is a scenic route across the beautiful Shenandoah Valley that is well worth the time and effort to travel.
There are many fun things to do at the park. Explore beautiful terrain that is accessible to hikers of all skill levels. Bring a picnic and enjoy the peaceful setting. Take photos that capture the area’s beauty, or relax and enjoy the peace.
Shenandoah National Park is a perfect getaway because of its breathtaking scenery and many natural attractions. You will need to leave early to get out here so this may be best for families with teenagers or young adults who can mobilize quickly.
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania – 2 Hours 15 Minutes From DC
Gettysburg is famous for being the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was a pivotal event during the American Civil War. It was between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George G. Meade.
The battle is considered the turning point of the Civil War and is known for its scale, intensity, and high number of casualties. It resulted in a Union victory and is considered one of the most important battles in American history.
It is also the location of the Gettysburg Address, a speech delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863, during the American Civil War. The speech was given at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, four and a half months after the Union Army defeated the Confederate Army at the Battle of Gettysburg.
The speech is famous for its opening line, “Four score and seven years ago,” and for its emphasis on the principles of freedom, democracy, and equality. The Gettysburg Address is considered one of the most important speeches in American history.
Tilghman Island, Maryland – 2 Hours 15 Minutes From DC
Tilghman Island is a small island located in Talbot County, Maryland. The island is a working waterman’s village and is known for its historic vessels, charter fishing, great seafood, and unique lodging. It is located on the southernmost tip of Talbot County just past the popular town of St. Michael’s.
There are a variety of things to do on Tilghman island. You can visit Tilghman Island during the day and then head to St. Michaels for dinner before heading back to Washington DC. If you are looking for a longer getaway to explore more family-friendly activities in this area, be sure to book an overnight stay at one of the adorable hotels here.
Berlin, Maryland – 2.5 Hours From DC
Berlin, Maryland is a lesser known than its European namesake. It’s a small quaint town on the east coast of Maryland with plenty to do for families. You will need to leave early to get there so that you don’t spend your time sitting in traffic. It’s a great place to visit during one of the many events that they have. There is a car show that takes place as well as other fun events. Given the distance you may want to consider a weekend getaway and combining a visit to Berlin with a visit to nearby Ocean City, Maryland.
Explore Charlottesville, Virginia – 2.5 Hours From DC
Charlottesville is an amazing place to visit for a day with your family. This quaint town is also home to the University of Virginia as well as many outdoor activities.
The city offers a wide variety of family-friendly activities and attractions. It is home to several historic sites, such as Monticello (discussed below), and also has several museums and galleries, such as the Virginia Discovery Museum. This museum is specifically aimed at children. Also, Charlottesville has a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, wine tastings, and kayaking, as well as several parks and playgrounds.
Finally, you can end your day in Charlottesville with dinner in the vibrant downtown area. Not only are there plenty of places to eat, but also there are cute stores to shop in. This is also a great place for a weekend getaway so consider staying here for a night or two so you have more time to explore many of the great things here.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello – 2.5 Hours From DC
When you visit Monticello, it’s like taking a trip back in time to learn about Thomas Jefferson, one of the most influential men in the history of the United States.
There are opportunities to take guided tours of the home, gardens, and grounds at this UNESCO World Heritage Site site. You should consider Jefferson since he was one of the United States’ founding fathers.
The museum also displays about Thomas Jefferson and the period he lived in. Another option is hiking and taking in the sights along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Busch Gardens – 3 Hours From DC
Busch Gardens in Williamsburg is the perfect place for a thrilling adventure. Exciting roller coasters will make your heart beat as you twist and spin through the air. Live shows can be fascinating and take you into the world of fun.
There is an abundance of fun activities that the whole family may enjoy, especially those geared toward younger visitors. Explore the many themed sections, each leading to a new world of wonder and magic.
If hunger strikes, you may choose from various restaurants serving you multiple delicacies. Busch Gardens creates the ideal day, packed with excitement and memories for visitors of all ages, from the most courageous adventurers to the youngest explorers. You can combine a trip to Busch Gardens with a visit to Luary Caverns and also Williamsburg Virginia.
Colonial Williamsburg – 3 Hours From DC
Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia was the capital of the British colony of Virginia over 200 years ago. Today, it’s been preserved to look just like it did back then. The city was founded in 1632 and eventually became the capital of the English colony in 1698.
King James I of England granted a charter to the Virginia Company in 1606. The King sent about 100 men to start a colony in Virginia with hopes of finding gold and other valuable products to bring back to the King. The members of the Virginia Company also wanted to find a water route to the Pacific Ocean. Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is a great way to learn about its importance to America in the 1700s.
Colonial Williamsburg is a long drive from Washington DC. This is probably better as an overnight trip because it can take 3 to 4 hours to get there. However, for motivated history buffs, you can leave very early and make it there in time for lunch and then plan to head home after an early dinner.
Rehoboth Beach – 3 Hours From DC
The beach in Rehoboth is also an option for a day trip with the kids. Especially on very hot days in Washington DC, heading to the coast is a great way to cool off. One may sunbathe, swim, and play on the sand at a beach. The whole family may have fun at various attractions, including amusement parks and arcades.
The beach is an ideal spot to unwind and enjoy the sunshine. Besides Funland and Jungle Jim’s, the neighborhood has several other amusement parks. Several arcades nearby allow you to play games for tokens and win real money.
Although a visit to Rehoboth Beach from Washington DC is possible to do in a day, it is better done as a weekend trip from DC or at least an overnight trip.
Ocean City, Maryland – 3 Hours From DC
Spend the day relaxing on the sand and surf at Ocean City Beach in Maryland. Because there are so many exciting things to do on the beach and in the water, it is an ideal destination for families with young children.
Enjoy the water, try the food, and soak up the rays. Vacations at Ocean City will be full of fun and excitement for the whole family. There are also several amusements parks in the Ocean City area which makes it a very popular destination for families with children.
Fun Day Trips From Washington DC For Families: Summary
Washington, DC, has plenty to do from the Lincoln Memorial to the Smithsonian Air And Space Museum. However, there are also various day trip options that are great for families. Whether it is educational, cultural, outdoor, or adventurous, you will find plenty of amazing day trips within a few hours of Washington DC. You can explore the small towns along the Chesapeake Bay like St. Michaels or head to a theme park like King’s Dominion. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in this area. So, gather your family and set out on a experience that you all will remember.