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Day Trips from Washington, D.C.

Day trips from Washington, D.C.

Antietam National Battlefield - Sharpsburg, Maryland
credit: National Park Service
Antietam, Sharpsburg, Maryland

Antietam National Battlefield lies North and East of Sharpsburg, along MD 34 and 65.  Both routes intersect either US 40 or Interstate 70.  The visitor center is North of Sharpsburg on MD 65.  (All visitor center facilities and most tour route exhibits are wheelchair accessible.)

On September 17, 1862, Confederate General Robert E. Lee made the first of two attempts to carry the war into the north.  At Antietam some 40,000 Confederate soldiers collied into battle with  87,000 Union soldiers.  After 12 hours in battle the number of casualties reached almost 23,000, leaving this battle to be remembered as the bloodiest day of the Civil War.  

When the fighting had finally ended the Union army had provided enough of a victory that President Abraham Lincoln felt it was time to present the Emancipation Proclamation.


Annapolis, Maryland
credit: Maryland Division of Tourism
Annapolis, Maryland

(40 minutes East of Washington on Rt. 50E)

This charming seaport city is the capital of Maryland and also served as America’s capital city under the Articles of Confederation.  The U.S. Naval Academy is located here and tours of its facilities are available.  


Harbor Place - Baltimore, Maryland
credit: Baltimore Office of Promotion and Tourism
Harbor Place - Baltimore

(Less than an hour from Washington.  Take Baltimore-Washington Parkway North to Russell Street, follow signs to Harbor Place.)

The Inner Harbor in Baltimore features a sparkling waterfront with ethnic festivals, art shows, concerts, and many other forms of entertainment.  


Maryland Science Center - Baltimore, Maryland
credit: Maryland Science Center
Maryland Science Center, Baltimore

601 Light Street

Located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Maryland Science Center has been educating young and old on the wonders and beauty of science since 1976.  Now the center houses Maryland’s largest movie screen, the 5-story IMAX, which projects a variety of exciting, technologically superior films.  The center also has a planetarium, three floors of hands-on exhibits, “The K.I.D.S Room” for children ages three to seven, and live demonstrations throughout the day.  


Columbus Center - Baltimore, Maryland
credit: Columbus Center
Columbus Center, Baltimore

Piers 5 and 6 - 701 Pratt Street Inner Harbor

The Columbus Center is a private, non-profit institution at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.  This national center for marine research, interactive public exhibition, and science education focuses on the use of leading-edge technology for both research, on-site, and distance learning.


American Visionary Art Museum
credit: American Visionary Art Museum
American Visionary Art Museum, Baltimore

800 Key Highway (Take I-95 North to I-395 following signs for Downtown Baltimore - Inner Harbor.  Turn right onto Conway Street, then right onto Light Street.  Follow to 2nd light and turn left onto Key Highway.  American Visionary Art Museum (AVAM) is on the corner of Key Highway and Covington Street.)

Located in Baltimore’s exciting Inner Harbor, the AVAM is dedicated to the exhibition and promotion of art created by untrained artists.  These include the homeless, homemakers, farmers, and the disabled who gain inspiration from the creativity that resides within each of us.  The museum has seven galleries, housing a permanent collection containing 4,000 works of art.  In addition, AVAM has many temporary exhibitions, a large media archive, and a reference/study library to help visitors better understand the meaning and purpose of visionary art.  


National Aquarium - Washington, DC
National Aquarium in Baltimore

Pier 3 - 501 East Pratt Street

The National Aquarium in Baltimore is an aquatic museum.  It houses many exhibits ranging from a Sea Pool to a Rain Forest.  It contains a diverse collection of over 10,000 animals representing more than 600 species of fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and marine mammals from all over the world.


Baltimore Zoo - Baltimore, Maryland
credit: Baltimore Zoo
Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

(Less than an hour from Washington - From I-95 Northbound - - take Exit 49B to Baltimore Beltway/ West (I-695).  Take Exit 18A to Liberty Road, which turns into Liberty Heights Avenue, to Druid Hill Park.  Follow signs to the Zoo.)

A visit to the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore  is truly an adventure, whether you come to witness the daily feedings, the lush Chimpanzee Forest, the award-winning Children's Zoo, or to ride a Dromedary Camel.  

 Throughout the year there are a variety of things to do.


Hampton National Historic Site - Towson, Maryland
Hampton National Historic Site

535 Hampton Lane - Towson, Maryland

Hampton, an elegantly furnished Georgian mansion settled amid gardens and shade trees, tells a 200 year story of a family business, early American industry and commerce, the cultural tastes of the times, the deprivations of war, and the economic changes that rendered such estate life obsolete.  Its story includes all of its people: slaves, indentured servants, skilled craftsmen, hired workers, and the estate owners.


Fort McHenry - Baltimore, Maryland
credit: National Park Service
Fort McHenry - National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore

(From I-95 northbound or southbound, take Exit 55 Key Highway and follow Fort McHenry signs on Key Highway to Lawrence St.  Turn Left on Lawrence St. and then left on Fort Avenue.  Proceed one mile to the park.)

Fort McHenry, home of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” played a major role in American history.  Built in the late 1790's, Fort McHenry is best known for its role during the War of 1812.  As the linchpin of Baltimore’s defenses, Fort McHenry withstood a grueling 25 hour bombardment by the British fleet.  In spite of the rockets and bombs, Francis Scott Key saw the fort’s 30' x 42' flag waving after the battle.  Full of emotion, he penned a poem that would later become the National Anthem for the United States of America.  Fort McHenry later served as a political prison for Southern sympathizers during the Civil War, a large Army hospital during World War I and a Coast Guard training base during World War II.


Fort Washington Park - Maryland
Fort Washington Park, Maryland

(Fort Washington lies on the Maryland shore of the Potomac River, south of Washington, D.C.  From the Capitol Beltway, I-95, follow the signs to Indian Head Highway, Md. 210 at Exit 3.  Go south on Indian Head Highway to Fort Washington Road and turn right, follow the road to the park.)

Fort Washington is the story of changing military strategy, of changing technology, and of a rapidly growing and maturing nation.  It is an excellent accumulation of events and ideas and the physical remains of several forts rather than one climactic act or one structure.

On weekends park interpreters, dressed in authentic U.S. Army uniforms, recreate the life of a 19th-century military garrison.


Monticello, Virginia
Monticello, Virginia

(2½ hours southwest of Washington - Take Rt. 66W to Warrenton, VA then Rt. 29S to Charlottesville, VA, then I-64E to Exit 24 A.)

The home of Thomas Jefferson, designed by America’s third president himself, is filled with Jeffersonian inventions far ahead of their time.  In nearby Charlottesville is the University of Virginia founded and designed by the statesman-architect who authored the Declaration of Independence.  The view of the Shenandoah Valley from Skyline Drive is worth seeing.  Admission is charged.


Historic home in Fredericksburg, Virginia
Fredericksburg, Virginia

(Less than an hour from Washington - Take I-95 South, use Route 3 Exit.)

The childhood home to George Washington, where legend has it he took his axe to a local cherry tree, the historic town of Fredericksburg traces events from the Colonial days to the Civil War.  Union and Confederate troops fought four major battles on the surrounding countryside.  Today, many of the more than 350 18th and 19th-century buildings are open, including George Washington's mother, Mary Washington’s home, James Monroe’s law office, and the circa 1752 plantation house Kenmore.


Harper's Ferry, West Virginia
credit: National Park Service (M. Woodbridge Williams)
Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

(1½ hours northwest of Washington - Take I-270 N to Rt. 340 then follow signs to Harper’s Ferry from Charlestown, WV.)

The site of John Brown’s futile attempt to seize the U.S. arsenal, this community was captured and recaptured by Union and Confederate forces eight times during the Civil War.  The remains of the government arsenal, dating back to the George Washington Administration, are here.  A breathtaking view of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers can be seen from the higher elevations and the town.  


Gettysburg National Military Park and Cemetery
credit: National Park Service (Richard Frear)
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

(1½ hours north of Washington I-270 to Frederick, MD then Rt. 15 to Gettysburg.)

Gettysburg National Memorial Park was the site of the greatest battle of the Civil War.  On July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, more men fought and more men died than in any other battle before or since on North American soil.  With 51,000 casualties, Gettysburg was recorded as the bloodiest battle of American history.

Adjoining the park is Gettysburg National Cemetery in which the veterans of the Civil War and subsequent wars are buried.  At the dedication of this cemetery on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous “Gettysburg Address.”


Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
credit: Longwood Gardens, Photographic Services
Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

(2½ hours north of Washington - Take I-95 N to Wilmington, Delaware then Rt. 52 N to Rt. 1 to Kennett Square, PA.)

The 1,050 acres of gardens and conservatories provide something to see year-round.  Seasonal displays in the conservatories, illuminated-fountain shows in the summer, and a variety of educational programs make Longwood a horticultural haven.  Admission is charged.  


Winterthur Museum and Gardens - Delaware
credit: Winterthur Museum and Gardens Photographic Services
Winterthur Museum and Gardens, Delaware

(2½ hours north of Washington - Take I-95 N to Wilmington, Delaware, then Rt. 52)

Henry Francis DuPont’s estate houses one of the pre-eminent collections of American antiques as well as fine and decorative arts.  

Call in advance for tours and special events.



The Smithsonian Institution provides visitors to Washington with culture, history, and heritage with museums, events, and festivals.  Visit their Web site for more information.  (this will take you outside senate.gov)

The D.C. Heritage Tourism Coaltion is dedicated to showcasing the cultural attractions and special events in Washington to visitors from across the globe.  Go to their site for more information (this will take you outside www.senate.gov).

Washington.org is the perfect site for visitors new to Washington, D.C.  Check out their site! (this will take you outside senate.gov)

Click here for more information on the federal government from Firstgov.gov, "your first click to the US Government."