Escape the City: Discover the Top Day Trips from Arlington VA

Escape the City: Discover the Top Day Trips from Arlington VA

Approach to National Airport (Arlington, VA) Over the National Mall (Washington, DC) February 2022

Nestled in the heart of Northern Virginia, Arlington offers more than just its proximity to the nation’s capital. It stands as a launchpad for some of the most captivating day trips you can imagine.

Whether you are a local looking for a quick escape or a visitor wanting to explore beyond the boundaries of Washington DC, Arlington is your starting point for a journey filled with discovery.

From the lush, rolling hills of Virginia wine country to the historical landmarks that have shaped America, Arlington is your threshold to experiences that resonate with beauty, history, and adventure.

Let us explore the myriad day trips from Arlington, Virginia, that are not only a short drive away but are sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart and mind.

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Is Arlington VA Worth Visiting?

Of course! Arlington, VA is a wonderful place to explore, with a mix of modern urban landscapes and significant historical sites to discover.

It offers a unique blend of culture, history, and leisure activities.

Its strategic location makes it an ideal starting point for exploring the wider area, as it provides easy access to public transportation and major roadways.

Whether you’re looking to explore Washington DC or venture into the surrounding countryside, Arlington is a convenient and accessible location to begin your journey.

Why is Arlington Virginia Famous?

Arlington is known for its iconic landmarks of significant historical importance.

The Arlington National Cemetery, a vast expanse of green, is a place of tribute to the brave heroes who have served the United States.

The cemetery’s rolling hills are a mosaic of stories and sacrifices, making it a perfect place for reflection and gratitude.

The Pentagon, another landmark, is the center of U.S. military operations and an architectural marvel in its right.

These landmarks, among others, give Arlington a unique character that is both deeply American and universally resonant.

What is the Most Special Place in Arlington?

Arlington is home to many notable sites, but the Arlington National Cemetery is arguably the most special place within the city.

It’s not just a cemetery; it’s a living history book where every headstone tells a story of valor and sacrifice.

The eternal flame at the gravesite of President John F. Kennedy, the poignant Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the countless memorials within its grounds offer a profound experience that stays with visitors long after they leave.

👉 Find your perfect day-trip retreat for an easy getaway filled with discovery and relaxation.

Is Arlington a Good Place to Stay When Visiting DC?

Courthouse Plaza Arlington (VA) April 2015

Staying in Arlington is a smart choice for visitors to Washington DC. The area offers a more peaceful and relaxed atmosphere compared to the busy capital, while still providing easy access to all of DC’s major attractions via the Metro system.

Accommodations in Arlington are usually more affordable, without compromising on convenience or quality.

Additionally, you can enjoy exploring Arlington’s own diverse range of dining, shopping, and cultural experiences.

Why Visit Arlington?

Arlington is not just a gateway to the capital, it is a destination full of its own attractions, history, and culture.

It provides a perfect blend of urban excitement and historical depth, making it an ideal spot for travelers looking for a diverse experience.

Whether you are here to pay your respects at the national memorials, enjoy the vibrant food scene or use it as a base for exploring the greater DC area, Arlington promises an unforgettable visit.

Before embarking on numerous day trips from Arlington, VA, take some time to discover the charm and significance of Arlington itself, as it is sure to enrich your travel experience.

Washington DC

Glowing Washington DC Capitol

Location from Arlington: Less than 10 miles / 15-30 minutes travel time

Washington DC, a vibrant hub of American politics, history, and culture, lies conveniently close to Arlington, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for every visitor.

The city’s monumental landscapes, historic neighborhoods, and myriad cultural institutions provide a backdrop for exploration and discovery that is both profound and exhilarating.

Why Visit Washington DC:
  • Iconic Landmarks and Memorials:
    The National Mall serves as an open-air museum, featuring the White House, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and newer additions like the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
    These sites offer not just breathtaking views but also deep historical context.
  • Smithsonian Museums and Cultural Sites:
    Enjoy free admission to a diverse array of museums, including the National Air and Space Museum for space enthusiasts, the National Museum of American History for history buffs, and the vibrant National Museum of African American History and Culture for those seeking to understand America’s cultural fabric.
  • Diverse Neighborhoods and Culinary Scene:
    Discover the historic charm of Georgetown, the bustling Eastern Market in Capitol Hill, and the culinary diversity that spans from upscale dining in the Penn Quarter to international fare in Adams Morgan.

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Day Trips North of Arlington

Every location situated north of Arlington has something unique to offer.

You can experience the pastoral beauty and artisanal flavors of the wineries and breweries in Loudoun County, learn about history and culture in Gettysburg, or enjoy fun-filled adventures in Hershey.

These trips serve as an excellent getaway from the city and highlight the diverse attractions that can be accessed within a few hours’ drive from Arlington.

Wineries and Breweries in Loudoun County

Loudoun Valley Vineyards

Location from Arlington: Approximately 30-40 miles / 45-60 minutes travel time

Just a short drive from Arlington lies Loudoun County, Virginia, a haven for wine and beer enthusiasts.

Often dubbed “DC’s Wine Country,” Loudoun boasts a booming craft brewery scene alongside its established wineries.

Why Visit Loudoun County’s Wineries & Breweries:
  • Unwind in Scenic Settings: 
    Escape the hustle and bustle of Arlington and immerse yourself in the beauty of Loudoun County.
    Picturesque vineyards and breweries nestled amidst rolling Virginia hills and lush landscapes provide a delightful backdrop for your tasting experience.
  • Explore Diverse Wineries & Breweries: 
    With over 40 wineries and breweries, Loudoun County offers something for every palate.
    From established vineyards crafting award-winning wines to innovative breweries pushing the boundaries of craft beer, you’re sure to discover new favorites.
  • Experience Local Charm & Hospitality: 
    Loudoun County’s wineries and breweries are known for their warm atmosphere and friendly staff.
    Many offer unique experiences beyond tastings, such as live music, food pairings, and educational tours.

👉 Explore the scenic beauty and rich history around Arlington, VA. Book your next adventure to places where each turn reveals a new surprise, from lush vineyards to historic battlegrounds.

Gettysburg, PA

Location from Arlington: Roughly 80 miles / 1.5-2 hours travel time

Journey to Gettysburg, PA, where history resonates on the fields that once bore witness to the Civil War’s most defining battle.

Today, Gettysburg National Military Park serves as a monument to those who fought, offering visitors a profound connection to America’s past through its preserved landscapes, comprehensive museum, and educational programs.

Why Visit Gettysburg, PA:
  • Walk Through History: 
    Explore the Gettysburg National Military Park, where the epic battle unfolded.
    You can actually stand on the same ground where soldiers fought and get a feel for the weight of history.
  • Learn About the War: 
    The Gettysburg Museum is packed with cool Civil War stuff, from weapons and uniforms to exhibits that explain what caused the war and what happened after.
    It’s a great way to understand this important period in American history.
  • Experience Gettysburg Beyond the Battlefield: 
    While the history is the main draw, Gettysburg offers more than just battlefields.
    You can explore the charming downtown area with its shops and restaurants, or even take a ghost tour for a spooky twist!

Hershey, PA

The Boardwalk in Hersheypark

Location from Arlington: Approximately 100 miles / 2-2.5 hours travel time

Calling all chocoholics! Just a two-hour drive from Arlington lies Hershey, PA, also known as “The Sweetest Place on Earth.”

This town is a haven for all things chocolate, offering fun-filled experiences for the whole family.

Why Visit Hershey, PA:
  • Indulge at Hersheypark: 
    Gear up for thrills at Hersheypark, a world-class theme park.
    From heart-pounding coasters to exciting shows and, of course, chocolate-themed attractions, there’s something for everyone.
  • Unwrap the Magic at Hershey’s Chocolate World: 
    Step inside Hershey’s Chocolate World and dive into a world of pure chocolatey goodness.
    Here, you can create your own candy bar, witness the magic of chocolate making on a factory tour, and indulge in free samples of delicious treats.
  • Explore Hershey’s Gardens: 
    Beyond the chocolate frenzy, Hershey offers a haven for nature lovers.
    This meticulously landscaped wonderland features themed gardens, a children’s garden, and a serene butterfly house.

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Day Trips Northeast of Arlington

The Northeast of Arlington has a lot of exciting destinations to offer, ranging from the rich historical and cultural experiences of Baltimore and Philadelphia to the serene natural beauty of Blackbird State Forest.

Whether you want to explore American history, enjoy the great outdoors, or explore vibrant urban centers full of life and entertainment, these day trips are sure to provide you with unforgettable experiences that are just a short drive away.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Inner Harbor

Location from Arlington: Roughly 40 miles / 1 hour travel time

History buffs and seafood lovers, take note! Baltimore, Maryland, awaits just a short drive from Arlington.

Nicknamed “Charm City,” Baltimore offers a vibrant blend of maritime heritage, cultural attractions, and a renowned culinary scene.

Why Visit Baltimore, Maryland:
  • Immerse Yourself in History & Modernity: 
    Baltimore seamlessly blends the past with the present.
    Explore world-class museums like the Walters Art Museum or the American Visionary Arts Museum.
    Then, head down to the Inner Harbor for a vibrant waterfront experience with dazzling restaurants and historical landmarks.
  • Savor Seafood Delights & Local Flavor: 
    Baltimore boasts a legendary seafood scene.
    From fresh-off-the-boat crab feasts to upscale waterfront dining, your taste buds will thank you.
    Don’t miss the chance to explore Lexington Market, a bustling marketplace brimming with local flavor.
  • Uncover Hidden Gems in Historic Neighborhoods: 
    Step back in time with a stroll through Fells Point or Federal Hill.
    These charming neighborhoods boast cobbled streets, 19th-century architecture, and a lively pub scene.
    Discover hidden taverns, unique shops, and a glimpse into Baltimore’s rich cultural tapestry.

Blackbird State Forest, Delaware

Location from Arlington: Approximately 90 miles / 1.5-2 hours travel time

Craving a breath of fresh air and a dose of serenity?

Look no further than Blackbird State Forest, Delaware, a hidden gem for nature lovers.

Just a short drive from Arlington, this peaceful retreat offers miles of trails winding through a diverse forest landscape.

Why Visit Blackbird State Forest:
  • Immerse Yourself in Nature: 
    Escape the city and reconnect with the beauty of the outdoors.
    Hike through towering trees, spot a variety of birdlife, and soak in the tranquility of the forest.
    Blackbird provides a haven for relaxation and a chance to appreciate the simple wonders of nature.
  • Explore Diverse Trails for All Levels: 
    Blackbird State Forest boasts an extensive trail system catering to all skill levels.
    Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, you’ll find a path that suits your pace and preferences.
    Options range from gentle strolls to more challenging climbs, offering a chance to explore the forest’s various ecosystems.
  • Experience a Budget-Friendly Getaway: 
    Blackbird State Forest offers a perfect escape for those seeking an affordable outdoor adventure.
    With free public access, you can enjoy hiking, picnicking, and exploring the beauty of the forest without breaking the bank.

👉 Take a break from Arlington, VA, and discover the allure of nearby destinations. Choose from a variety of day-trip accommodations that put you right where you need to be – in the heart of adventure.

Inner Harbor, Baltimore

Baltimore Inner Harbor from Federal Hill

Location: Roughly 40 miles / 1 hour travel time (Included in Baltimore, Maryland)

Calling all history buffs, science enthusiasts, and waterfront lovers!

Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, just a short drive from Arlington, offers a vibrant mix of attractions, dining, and stunning harbor views.

Why Visit the Inner Harbor:
  • Immerse Yourself in a Feast for the Senses: 
    The Inner Harbor is a sensory overload in the best way possible.
    Explore fascinating exhibits at the Maryland Science Center, marvel at historic ships docked in the harbor, and indulge in fresh seafood with breathtaking waterfront views.
    It’s a place to engage your curiosity, learn something new, and savor delicious food all in one location.
  • Family-Friendly Fun for All Ages: 
    The Inner Harbor caters to visitors of all ages.
    From thrilling rides at the National Aquarium to interactive exhibits at Port Discovery Children’s Museum, there’s something to keep everyone entertained.
    Take a scenic boat tour, rent paddle boats for a leisurely cruise, or enjoy live music performances for a truly memorable experience.
  • A Walkable Haven with Charm: 
    The Inner Harbor is designed for strolling and soaking up the atmosphere.
    Brick promenades lined with shops and restaurants beckon you to explore.
    Discover unique boutiques, grab a coffee and people-watch, or simply admire the stunning harbor panorama.
    The walkable layout and vibrant energy make it a delightful place to spend an afternoon.

Fells Point, Baltimore

Location: Roughly 40 miles / 1 hour travel time (Included in Baltimore, Maryland)

Just a short drive from Arlington lies Fells Point, Baltimore.

This historic waterfront district is a captivating blend of old-world charm and lively energy.

Cobblestone streets wind past 18th-century brick buildings, housing trendy boutiques, eclectic eateries, and legendary pubs.

Why Visit Fells Point:
  • Step Back in Time & Explore Maritime History: 
    Fells Point boasts a rich maritime heritage. Explore the neighborhood and feel transported back in time.
    Visit the Fell’s Point Privateer Maritime Park Museum to learn about the area’s shipbuilding past, or simply wander the streets and soak in the historic atmosphere.
  • Indulge in a Culinary Adventure: 
    Fells Point tantalizes taste buds with a diverse culinary scene.
    From fresh seafood feasts to trendy gastropubs, there’s something for every palate.
    Don’t miss the chance to grab a handcrafted beer at a local pub or savor a waterfront meal with stunning harbor views.
  • Immerse Yourself in Baltimore’s Vibrant Culture: 
    Fells Point comes alive at night. Explore the legendary pub scene, catch live music spilling out onto the streets, or join a ghost tour for a spooky twist on Baltimore’s history.
    Fells Point offers a vibrant atmosphere perfect for experiencing the heart and soul of Charm City.

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

View of Philadelphia from Museum of Art - Philadelphia PA

Location from Arlington: Roughly 140 miles / 2-2.5 hours travel time

Craving a dose of American history with a modern twist? Look no further than Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, just a two-hour drive from Arlington.

Nicknamed the “City of Brotherly Love,” Philly boasts a rich past, evident in iconic landmarks like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. But Philadelphia is more than just museums – it’s a vibrant city with a thriving present.

Why Visit Philadelphia, PA:
  • Walk in the Footsteps of Founding Fathers: 
    Immerse yourself in the birthplace of American democracy.
    Explore Independence National Historical Park, where the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were debated and signed.
    Stand in awe of the Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom and a powerful reminder of America’s revolutionary spirit.
  • Experience a Culinary Adventure: 
    Philadelphia’s food scene is legendary.
    From the iconic cheesesteak to mouthwatering hoagies and a diverse range of international cuisine, your taste buds will thank you.
    Don’t miss the chance to explore bustling Reading Terminal Market, a haven for foodies with fresh produce, local vendors, and delicious prepared foods.
  • Explore Vibrant Neighborhoods & Cultural Gems: 
    Philadelphia is a city of distinct neighborhoods, each offering a unique flavor.
    From the trendy shops and art galleries of Rittenhouse Square to the historic charm of Society Hill, there’s a district waiting to be discovered.
    Immerse yourself in world-class museums like the Philadelphia Museum of Art, or catch a performance at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts.

👉 Find your ideal base for day trips starting from Arlington, VA. From cozy bed and breakfasts to luxury spas, ensure your short journey is as comfortable as it is exciting.

Day Trips East of Arlington

If you head east of Arlington, you’ll never be too far from the water’s edge and the unique charm of coastal towns.

From the fascinating history and nautical allure of Annapolis to the exciting beachfront amusements of Atlantic City, Cape May, and Ocean City, Maryland, these destinations provide a delightful escape to the sea.

Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a bit of both, heading east offers a plethora of experiences to satisfy every traveler.

Annapolis, Maryland

Location from Arlington: About 30-35 miles / 45-60 minutes travel time

Set sail for a charming escape to Annapolis, Maryland, just a short drive from Arlington.

Picturesque waterfront views, historic architecture, and the prestigious U.S. Naval Academy define this delightful city.

Why Visit Annapolis, Maryland:
  • Dive into Naval History & Maritime Charm: 
    Annapolis boasts a rich naval heritage. Tour the impressive United States Naval Academy, steeped in tradition and history.
    Embark on a sailing tour on the Chesapeake Bay, feeling the wind in your hair and soaking in the stunning scenery.
  • Explore a City Steeped in Charm: 
    Wander the historic district of Annapolis and be captivated by its cobblestone streets and quaint shops.
    Browse for unique treasures, savor delicious seafood at waterfront restaurants, and lose yourself in the city’s timeless charm.
  • Experience a Cultural Gem: 
    Beyond its historic appeal, Annapolis offers a vibrant cultural scene.
    Catch a performance at the Annapolis Shakespeare Theatre, explore the Maryland State House – the oldest state capitol building still in use – or delve into maritime history at the Annapolis Maritime Museum.

Atlantic City, New Jersey

The Boardwalk

Location from Arlington: Approximately 180 miles / 3-3.5 hours travel time

Calling all thrill-seekers and beach lovers! Atlantic City beckons, just a two-hour drive from Arlington.

This vibrant city on the Jersey Shore is a dazzling mix of non-stop entertainment, iconic boardwalk charm, and sandy beach relaxation.

Why Visit Atlantic City, New Jersey:
  • Lights, Camera, Action!: 
    Immerse yourself in the electrifying energy of Atlantic City.
    Try your luck at world-class casinos offering thrilling games and dazzling shows.
    Catch a headline concert or a captivating stage performance – there’s always something exciting happening in this city that never sleeps.
  • Stroll the Famed Boardwalk & Embrace Beach Bliss: 
    Step onto the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk, a legendary four-mile stretch pulsating with activity.
    Ride the Ferris wheel for panoramic views, indulge in carnival classics at the amusement piers, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun.
    Atlantic City offers the perfect blend of boardwalk fun and seaside serenity.
  • A Culinary Adventure for All Palates: 
    From casual boardwalk fare to upscale dining within the casinos, Atlantic City caters to every taste bud.
    Savor fresh seafood with a view, indulge in delectable buffets, or grab a quick bite between rounds of games.

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Cape May, New Jersey

Location from Arlington: Roughly 175 miles / 3-3.5 hours travel time

Escape to the serenity of Cape May, New Jersey, just a two-hour drive from Arlington.

This charming seaside resort town offers a delightful mix of Victorian elegance, pristine beaches, and abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Why Visit Cape May, New Jersey:
  • Step Back in Time with Victorian Charm: 
    Wander the picturesque streets of Cape May, lined with beautifully preserved Victorian houses.
    Immerse yourself in the town’s rich history and architectural heritage.
    Explore unique shops housed in these grand structures, or take a narrated trolley tour to learn fascinating stories about Cape May’s past.
  • Relax on Pristine Beaches & Embrace the Ocean Breeze: 
    Unwind on Cape May’s expansive beaches, boasting soft sand and crystal-clear waters.
    Soak up the sun, build sandcastles with the family, or take a refreshing dip in the ocean.
    Cape May offers a beachfront paradise perfect for relaxation and coastal fun.
  • Explore Nature’s Wonders: 
    Beyond the beach, Cape May is a haven for nature lovers.
    Birdwatchers can spot a diverse range of avian species at Cape May Point State Park.
    Explore the serene wetlands on a kayaking tour, or embark on a thrilling whale and dolphin watching cruise for a chance to encounter majestic marine life.
    With its natural beauty and diverse ecosystems, Cape May offers something for every outdoor enthusiast.

Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City Maryland

Location from Arlington: About 145 miles / 2.5-3 hours travel time

Calling all beach bums and thrill-seekers! Ocean City, Maryland, awaits just a two-hour drive from Arlington.

This lively resort town boasts a legendary 10-mile beach, a bustling boardwalk packed with entertainment, and a plethora of water activities for an unforgettable coastal escape.

Why Visit Ocean City, Maryland:
  • Embrace Boardwalk Fun & Beach Bliss: 
    Ocean City’s iconic boardwalk is a must-experience.
    Take a stroll along the vibrant four-mile stretch, indulge in classic boardwalk fare like funnel cake and fresh lemonade, and soak up the lively atmosphere.
    Beyond the boardwalk lies a vast expanse of sandy beach perfect for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or simply relaxing with the sound of the waves crashing in the background.
  • Hit the Waves & Explore the Ocean: 
    Ocean City offers a playground for water enthusiasts.
    Catch some waves with surfing lessons, explore the coastline on a paddleboard, or cast a line and try your luck fishing.
    From exhilarating water sports to tranquil kayaking adventures, there’s something for every skill level on the ocean waters.
  • Unwind or Unleash Your Inner Thrill-Seeker: 
    Whether you crave relaxation or an adrenaline rush, Ocean City caters to all preferences.
    Spend a peaceful day soaking up the sun, enjoy a romantic evening stroll along the beach, or unleash your inner thrill-seeker at one of the amusement parks offering rollercoasters, arcades, and exciting rides.
    Ocean City guarantees fun for the whole family.

👉 Transform a simple day trip from Arlington, VA, into an extraordinary exploration. Secure your spot in unique accommodations that offer a peaceful retreat after a day of adventure.

Best Day Trips Southeast of Arlington

To the southeast of Arlington lies a wonderful blend of historical exploration, beachside leisure, and natural beauty.

Whether you’re interested in exploring the historical estate of the first U.S. president at Mount Vernon, unwinding and swimming at Virginia Beach, or experiencing the stunning natural beauty of Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, there’s an abundance of experiences waiting for you.

These destinations offer perfect escapes for those looking to delve into America’s past, enjoy coastal leisure, or immerse themselves in the tranquility of nature.

Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon

Location from Arlington: Approximately 15-20 miles / 30-45 minutes travel time

Immerse yourself in American history with a visit to Mount Vernon, the beloved estate of George Washington, the first President of the United States.

Located just a short drive from Arlington, Mount Vernon offers a captivating glimpse into the life and times of the Founding Father.

Why Visit Mount Vernon:
  • Explore Washington’s Home & Legacy: 
    Step back in time and explore the meticulously preserved mansion where George Washington lived and worked.
    Tour the various rooms, furnished with period objects, and gain insights into Washington’s personal life and daily routines.
    The estate also includes beautifully maintained gardens, offering a glimpse into 18th-century landscaping practices. 
  • Uncover the Depths of American History: 
    Delve deeper into American history with a visit to the on-site museum and education center.
    Explore fascinating exhibits that showcase the complex story of 18th-century America, from the Revolutionary War to the beginnings of a new nation.
  • Engage in Interactive Learning: 
    Mount Vernon offers a variety of interactive educational programs and special events designed to bring history to life for visitors of all ages.
    Witness historical reenactments, participate in hands-on demonstrations, and gain a richer understanding of this significant period in American history.
  • Experience the Breathtaking Views: 
    Mount Vernon offers stunning panoramic vistas atop a hill overlooking the Potomac River.
    Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the surroundings and imagine the landscape as George Washington himself would have experienced it.

👉 Skyscanner takes you from Arlington, VA, to extraordinary day trip adventures. Book your flight now and get ready to explore everything from coastal retreats to mountain getaways.

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Location from Arlington: Roughly 200 miles / 3-4 hours travel time

Craving a coastal escape with a touch of everything?
Look no further than Virginia Beach, Virginia, a vibrant city offering a delightful mix of beach fun, cultural attractions, and outdoor adventures.

While it’s a bit further from Arlington than some other options, Virginia Beach is a full-fledged vacation destination waiting to be explored.

Why Visit Virginia Beach, Virginia:
  • Embrace the Beach Lifestyle: 
    Virginia Beach boasts a stunning 3-mile beach, perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles.
    Catch some waves with surfing lessons, explore the coastline on a paddleboard, or try your luck fishing.
    From exhilarating water sports to relaxing strolls along the shore, Virginia Beach caters to all preferences.
  • Explore Beyond the Boardwalk: 
    While the iconic 3-mile boardwalk is a must-visit, Virginia Beach offers more than just classic beach fun.
    Immerse yourself in the vibrant ViBe Creative District, a hub for local artists, makers, and trendy cafes.
    Explore fascinating historic houses like the First Landing Cross or the Cape Henry Lighthouse, and delve into the region’s rich heritage.
  • Encounter Marine Marvels: 
    The Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center is a must for nature lovers.
    This world-class facility showcases the diverse marine life of the Atlantic Ocean, from playful otters to majestic sharks.
    Explore interactive exhibits, witness captivating underwater shows, and learn about the importance of ocean conservation.
  • Unwind or Unleash Your Inner Adventurer: 
    Virginia Beach offers a variety of activities beyond the beach.
    Hike or bike through lush nature trails, take a scenic boat tour, or explore the nearby Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge and spot a variety of bird species.
    Whether you seek relaxation or an adrenaline rush, Virginia Beach guarantees an unforgettable coastal escape.

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (VA)

Location from Arlington: Approximately 170 miles / 3-3.5 hours travel time

Escape to a world of natural beauty and diverse wildlife at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia.

This idyllic coastal sanctuary, located about a 3-hour drive from Arlington, offers a unique opportunity to witness the majesty of the barrier islands, pristine beaches, and the famous Chincoteague ponies.

Why Visit Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge:
  • Encounter the Enchanting Chincoteague Ponies: 
    The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is perhaps most renowned for its herd of wild Chincoteague ponies.
    These majestic creatures have roamed the islands for centuries, and visitors can observe them in their natural habitat.
    Every year in July, a thrilling Pony Swim takes place, where the ponies are guided across the Assateague Channel to Chincoteague Island for a summer grazing season, followed by a famous auction where some foals are sold.
  • Immerse Yourself in a Natural Wonderland: 
    Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for nature lovers.
    Explore miles of unspoiled beaches, hike or bike through diverse habitats like maritime forests and marshes, and kayak through tranquil waterways.
    Hike or bike along scenic trails, relax on the pristine beaches, or simply soak up the tranquility of the natural surroundings.
  • A Paradise for Birdwatchers: 
    With over 320 species of birds documented using the refuge, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge is a birder’s paradise.
    Witness migratory birds like herons, egrets, and ducks, or spot elusive shorebirds like plovers and sandpipers.
    Keep an eye out for bald eagles, which are also frequent visitors to the refuge.

👉 Embark on memorable day trips from Arlington, VA, and return to the comfort of carefully selected accommodations. Discover places that offer both adventure and the warmth of hospitality.

Day Trips South of Arlington

South of Arlington, there are plenty of opportunities to explore Virginia’s rich history, diverse culture, and natural beauty.

You can journey through time from the colonial era to the Civil War, immerse yourself in vibrant cultural scenes, and enjoy nature in urban settings.

Each destination, such as Fredericksburg, Norfolk, Williamsburg, or Richmond, offers its own unique set of experiences. 

These day trips provide an excellent opportunity to discover Virginia’s historic streets, naval heritage, and diverse attractions in a fun and exciting way.

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Fredericksburg, Virginia

Location from Arlington: Roughly 50 miles / 1 hour travel time

Steeped in history and brimming with charm, Fredericksburg, Virginia, is a delightful day trip destination just a short drive from Arlington.

This captivating town offers a unique blend of Civil War history, a vibrant arts scene, and a lively downtown area waiting to be explored.

Why Visit Fredericksburg, Virginia:
  • Walk Through Time: Immerse Yourself in Civil War History: 
    Fredericksburg played a pivotal role in the Civil War, and the town boasts numerous historical sites and museums dedicated to this significant period.
    Explore Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park, which encompasses four major battlefields and offers a poignant look at the sacrifices made during the war.
    Visit the Mary Washington House, a historic home that served as a Union hospital during the Battle of Fredericksburg.
  • Explore a Charming Downtown: 
    Beyond its historical significance, Fredericksburg offers a delightful downtown area teeming with life.
    Stroll along brick-lined streets, browse unique shops and boutiques, and savor delicious meals at a variety of restaurants.
    Don’t miss a chance to catch a performance at the Fredericksburg Historic Playhouse or explore the vibrant art scene at Liberty Town Arts Workshops, a former plumbing warehouse transformed into a haven for working artists.

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Norfolk, Virginia

Location from Arlington: Approximately 200 miles / 3-3.5 hours travel time

Calling all history buffs and nature enthusiasts!

Set sail for Norfolk, Virginia, a vibrant waterfront city brimming with naval heritage, artistic expression, and a stunning botanical garden. 

While a bit further than some other options, Norfolk offers a full day of exploration and unique experiences.

Why Visit Norfolk, Virginia:
  • Dive into Naval History & Maritime Might: 
    Norfolk boasts a rich naval legacy. Explore the world-class Nauticus museum, packed with fascinating exhibits that tell the story of maritime exploration, naval warfare, and the U.S. Navy’s role in shaping American history.
  • Step aboard the Battleship Wisconsin, a mighty vessel that served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Persian Gulf War.
    Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring power and history of these maritime giants.
  • Embrace the Beauty of Norfolk Botanical Garden: 
    Norfolk Botanical Garden is a horticultural haven, offering a breathtaking escape into a world of vibrant blooms and meticulously landscaped gardens.
    Explore themed gardens featuring roses, azaleas, and native plants, or simply wander through the peaceful arboretum and soak up the natural beauty.
  • A Foodie’s Paradise: 
    Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Norfolk tantalizes taste buds with a diverse culinary scene.
    From fresh seafood overlooking the harbor to innovative dishes crafted by local chefs, Norfolk offers a culinary adventure for every palate.

Williamsburg, Virginia

Location from Arlington: Roughly 150 miles / 2.5 hours travel time

Immerse yourself in American history and family-friendly fun with a trip to Williamsburg, Virginia.

This captivating city offers a unique blend of experiences, from strolling the meticulously recreated streets of Colonial Williamsburg to experiencing the thrills of Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

Why Visit Williamsburg, Virginia:
  • Step Back in Time at Colonial Williamsburg: 
    Colonial Williamsburg is the crown jewel of the city, transporting visitors back to the 18th century.
    Explore restored buildings, witness historical reenactments by costumed interpreters, and learn about everyday life in colonial America.
  • Thrills & Chills at Busch Gardens & Water Country USA: 
    Adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Williamsburg offers a thrilling escape for the whole family.
    Experience exhilarating roller coasters, explore themed lands inspired by different European countries, and enjoy live shows and entertainment.
    During the warmer months, cool off at Water Country USA, a massive water park featuring splashtacular slides, relaxing pools, and a variety of attractions for all ages.
  • A Culinary Journey Through Time & Beyond:
    Williamsburg offers a diverse culinary scene catering to all tastes.
    Savor authentic 18th-century fare at taverns within Colonial Williamsburg, or indulge in delicious meals at contemporary restaurants.
    Explore local wineries and breweries, or grab a casual bite at a cafe overlooking Palace Green.

Richmond, Virginia

East on Broad Street

Location from Arlington: About 100 miles / 1.5-2 hours travel time

Richmond, Virginia, Virginia’s capital city, offers a captivating blend of rich history, thriving arts, and Southern charm.

With the James River flowing through its heart, Richmond promises a diverse and memorable experience for visitors seeking a day trip from Arlington.

Why Visit Richmond, Virginia:
  • Immerse Yourself in History:
    Steeped in history, Richmond offers a journey through various eras.
    Explore the Virginia State Capitol, a grand building designed by Thomas Jefferson and the seat of Virginia’s government since 1788.
    Learn about the Civil War’s impact on the state at the American Civil War Museum.
    Take a stroll through the Hollywood Cemetery, the final resting place for several American presidents, including James Monroe and John Tyler, and learn about Richmond’s role in shaping the nation’s history.
  • Embrace the Arts & Culture:
    Richmond boasts a vibrant arts scene.
    Explore the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, housing an impressive collection of art spanning centuries and cultures.
    Catch a performance at the Richmond Ballet, one of the oldest ballet companies in the United States, or lose yourself in the world of contemporary art at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Explore the James River & Outdoor Activities:
    The James River, flowing majestically through Richmond, offers a scenic backdrop and a plethora of outdoor activities.
    Hike or bike along the James River Park, a scenic trail network, or rent a kayak and explore the river from a unique perspective.
  • A Culinary Paradise:
    From traditional Southern fare to innovative cuisine, Richmond’s food scene caters to every palate.
    Savor delicious meals at locally-owned restaurants, explore the trendy Carytown district with its abundance of cafes and shops, or indulge in fresh seafood with stunning river views.

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Day Trips Southwest of Arlington

Come and explore the breathtaking landscapes of Shenandoah National Park and the rich history of Charlottesville, located southwest of Arlington.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure amidst the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains or eager to discover the intellectual and architectural contributions of one of America’s founding fathers, these destinations offer an unparalleled blend of natural beauty and historical significance.

With opportunities to reconnect with nature and explore significant cultural sites, both Shenandoah National Park and Charlottesville provide a refreshing escape from the urban environment.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah River State Park Nov 1-edit

Location from Arlington: Approximately 75 miles / 1.5 hours travel time

Shenandoah National Park is a perfect retreat for people who love the outdoors and nature. 

Located only 75 miles away from Arlington, Virginia, this park offers a stunning getaway into the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. 

This unspoiled wilderness provides countless opportunities for adventure, serenity, and natural beauty.

Unforgettable Experiences Await:
  • Panoramic Vistas & Fall Foliage Magic:
    Cruise along the iconic Skyline Drive, a 105-mile scenic roadway that traverses the crest of the Shenandoah mountains.
    Witness breathtaking panoramic vistas of the Shenandoah Valley unfolding before you. During fall, the mountains come alive with a dazzling display of fiery foliage, making for an unforgettable scenic drive
  • Hiking Adventures for All:
    Lace up your boots and explore over 500 miles of well-maintained trails, catering to all skill levels.
    Hike through lush forests, past cascading waterfalls, and reach mountain summits offering breathtaking panoramic views.
    For the truly adventurous, embark on a challenging trek along portions of the Appalachian Trail, a legendary long-distance hiking route that cuts through the heart of the park.
  • A Paradise for Wildlife Enthusiasts:
    Shenandoah National Park is a haven for diverse wildlife.
    Keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed deer, black bears (from a safe distance!), playful squirrels, and over 200 species of birds soaring through the skies.
    Listen out for the calls of wild turkeys and the gentle babbling of streams as you immerse yourself in the symphony of nature.
  • A Nature Lover’s Paradise:
    Beyond hiking and scenic drives, Shenandoah National Park offers a plethora of activities for nature lovers.
    Go stargazing under pristine night skies, cast a line in a crystal-clear stream for some trout fishing, or have a relaxing picnic amidst the serene beauty of the natural surroundings.

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Charlottesville, Virginia

Location from Arlington: Roughly 115 miles / 2 hours travel time

Charlottesville, Virginia is a wonderful destination that combines historical significance, natural beauty, and a vibrant college town atmosphere.

It is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, making it a charming city perfect for a day trip or a longer exploration.

Immerse Yourself in History & Architecture:
  • University of Virginia: A Jeffersonian Masterpiece:
    Step onto the grounds of the University of Virginia, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designed by the visionary Founding Father, Thomas Jefferson.
    Be awestruck by the Rotunda, the university’s architectural centerpiece, and explore the Lawn, a quadrangle lined by elegant Georgian-style buildings that housed both students and professors.
  • Monticello: A Journey Through Jefferson’s Legacy:
    Embark on a journey to Monticello, Jefferson’s hilltop plantation, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    Tour the meticulously restored mansion and learn about Jefferson’s life, passions, and architectural ingenuity.
    Explore the expansive grounds, including meticulously designed gardens and working plantation structures, offering a glimpse into 18th-century life.
  • A Pedestrian Paradise: 
    Stroll along the Downtown Mall, one of the longest pedestrian malls in the United States.
    This bustling hub is lined with a variety of shops, from popular name brands to unique local boutiques, catering to all tastes.
    Enjoy a delicious meal at a sidewalk cafe, people-watch while soaking up the lively atmosphere, or catch a street performance by local musicians.

👉 Journey from Arlington, VA, to explore renowned landmarks and serene landscapes. Book your day-trip escape to accommodations that provide a restful end to a day of exploration.

Day Trips West of Arlington

Traveling west from Arlington will lead you to a world of natural wonders.

You can explore the captivating subterranean Luray Caverns or enjoy the pristine and untouched beauty of Cathedral State Park.

These destinations offer a striking contrast to the urban environment and provide immersive experiences in some of the most beautiful natural settings the region has to offer.

Whether you want to explore the depths below or wander amidst towering trees, a trip west guarantees an unforgettable adventure into the heart of nature.

Luray Caverns

Virginia - Luray: Luray Caverns - Wishing Well

Location from Arlington: About 90 miles / 2 hours travel time

Luray Caverns, located in the Shenandoah Valley just west of Luray, Virginia, is the largest cavern in the eastern United States.

It features extraordinary rock formations and is a popular destination for visitors who want to experience the beauty and mystery of what lies beneath the surface.

Marvel at the underground spectacle and discover the natural wonder of Luray Caverns.

Why Visit Luray Caverns:
  • Witness a Geological Wonderland:
    Embark on a guided tour through the caverns and be mesmerized by the awe-inspiring formations of stalactites (hanging from the ceiling) and stalagmites (rising from the floor) sculpted by millions of years of water erosion.
    Luray Caverns boasts a variety of speleothems, including columns, flowstone, and mirrored pools, all contributing to the otherworldly beauty of this subterranean landscape.
  • Listen to the Great Stalacpipe Organ:
    Luray Caverns is home to the world’s only Stalacpipe Organ, a unique musical instrument that uses stalactites of varying lengths and thicknesses to create an ethereal sound.
    Witness a mesmerizing performance and marvel at the ingenuity of this natural wonder.
  • Explore Beyond the Caverns:
    The Luray Caverns complex offers more than just a glimpse into the underworld.
    Explore the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum, showcasing over 140 vehicles from various eras.
    Step back in time at the Shenandoah Heritage Village, a collection of restored historic buildings depicting life in the 19th century.
    The surrounding Shenandoah Valley itself is a scenic region with rolling hills, vineyards, and charming towns.

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Cathedral State Park, West Virginia

Location from Arlington: Approximately 150 miles / 2.5-3 hours travel time

Nestled among the rolling hills of West Virginia, Cathedral State Park provides a haven for nature enthusiasts and a glimpse into a past era.

This 133-acre park has been designated as a National Natural Landmark and is home to one of the last untouched hemlock forests in the eastern United States.

Located about two hours away from Arlington, Virginia, Cathedral State Park is an ideal destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway, allowing you to immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature.

Why Visit Cathedral State Park:
  • Witness Ancient Giants:
    Step back in time and explore a majestic old-growth forest teeming with towering hemlocks, some reaching up to 90 feet in height and 16 feet in circumference.
    These ancient giants have stood for centuries, creating a cathedral-like atmosphere with a dense canopy filtering sunlight and blanketing the forest floor in a peaceful hush.
  • A Haven for Diverse Flora:
    Cathedral State Park is more than just hemlocks.
    Explore a diverse ecosystem teeming with over 170 species of trees, ferns, and wildflowers.
    Keep your eyes peeled for colorful wildflowers carpeting the forest floor in spring or vibrant foliage painting the landscape in autumn.
  • Find Serenity on Walking Trails:
    Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the forest by traversing the park’s well-maintained trails.
    Breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of birdsong, and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
    With over 6 miles of trails to explore, Cathedral State Park caters to all levels of hikers, from leisurely strolls to more challenging ascents.

👉 Escape from Arlington, VA, for the day and dive into the charm of nearby historical sites and natural wonders. Find your perfect day-trip retreat for an easy getaway filled with discovery and relaxation.

Day Trips Northwest of Arlington

The area northwest of Arlington is home to a variety of natural and historical attractions.

From the historic streets of Harpers Ferry to the beautiful landscapes of Yellow Creek and Canoe Creek State Parks, there is something for everyone.

Whether you are a history fan, an outdoor lover, or just want to relax in nature, this region offers unforgettable experiences for all types of travelers.

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Location from Arlington: Roughly 65 miles / 1.5 hours travel time

Nestled at the picturesque confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, boasts a rich tapestry of history, breathtaking natural beauty, and outdoor adventure opportunities.
This captivating town, steeped in Civil War significance, offers a unique blend of experiences for visitors seeking a day trip or a longer exploration.

Why Visit Harpers Ferry, West Virginia:
  • A Step Back in Time:
    Explore Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, encompassing the town and surrounding lands.
    Delve into the town’s fascinating past at the John Brown’s Fort museum, learn about Harpers Ferry’s pivotal role in the Civil War at various exhibits, and stroll along the historic streets lined with 19th-century buildings.
  • Witness Breathtaking Vistas:
    Capture panoramic views of the town and surrounding landscapes from iconic viewpoints like Jefferson Rock and Maryland Heights.
    Hike to the top of Maryland Heights for stunning vistas of the rivers and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance, or take in the scenic beauty of the town from the easily accessible Jefferson Rock overlook.
  • Hike the Appalachian Trail:
    Harpers Ferry is a designated trailhead for the legendary Appalachian Trail, a long-distance hiking route stretching from Georgia to Maine.
    Lace up your boots and embark on a challenging yet rewarding hike along sections of the trail, offering stunning views and a true wilderness experience
  • Thrill to Whitewater Adventures:
    The rushing waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers provide an exhilarating playground for outdoor enthusiasts.
    Go whitewater rafting or kayaking for an adrenaline rush, or enjoy a more leisurely experience with a scenic tubing trip down the river.
  • Explore Beyond the Town:
    Harpers Ferry serves as a gateway to further adventure in the surrounding region.
    Explore the nearby Antietam National Battlefield, a significant Civil War site, or visit the quaint towns and historical sites scattered throughout the beautiful Lower Shenandoah Valley.

Yellow Creek State Park Beach/Picnic Area, Pennsylvania

Location from Arlington: Approximately 180 miles / 3-3.5 hours travel time

Yellow Creek State Park Beach/Picnic Area, located in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, is a perfect destination for a relaxing day trip or weekend getaway with family and friends .

This park offers a serene lake setting perfect for swimming, boating, picnicking, and hiking.

Why Visit Yellow Creek State Park Beach/Picnic Area:
  • Relax on the Sandy Beach: 
    The park’s sandy beach is a popular spot for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles.
    The beach is staffed with lifeguards during peak season, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all visitors.
  • Picnic in a Scenic Setting: 
    Enjoy a delicious meal outdoors at one of the park’s many picnic tables.
    Picnic areas are scattered throughout the park, offering scenic lake views or a more secluded atmosphere in the wooded areas.
    There are also a few charcoal grills available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Explore the Park by Boat: 
    Yellow Creek Lake is a haven for boaters. Launch your own boat or rent one from the park concessionaire and explore the scenic lake.
    Boating is a great way to enjoy the tranquility of the lake and spot some of the park’s resident wildlife

👉 Let Skyscanner be your gateway to exciting day trips from Arlington, VA.

Canoe Creek State Park, Pennsylvania

Mirror Mirror On The Water

Location from Arlington: Roughly 150 miles / 2.5-3 hours travel time

Canoe Creek State Park, nestled in Blair County, Pennsylvania, offers a scenic escape into nature, brimming with diverse habitats, historical intrigue, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

This 911-acre park, just a short drive from Altoona, is a perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway for visitors seeking a peaceful retreat amidst natural beauty.

Why Visit Canoe Creek State Park:
  • A Paradise for Birdwatchers:
    Canoe Creek State Park is a perfect place for birdwatchers, boasting over 320 species within its borders. You can spot magnificent birds of prey, such as ospreys and bald eagles, soaring over the lake or colorful songbirds flitting through the trees.
    The park’s wetlands, forests, and open fields offer varied habitats for a diverse range of birdlife.
    Apart from birds, the park is also home to white-tailed deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, and other wildlife.
    The different habitats provide a perfect environment for these creatures, making the park an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts.
  • Explore the Park’s Trails:
    Embark on a journey through Canoe Creek’s scenic trails, catering to all levels of hikers and nature enthusiasts.
    Hike through lush forests, explore the wetlands teeming with life, or follow the shoreline trail for breathtaking lake views.
    The park’s trails offer a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of the surroundings.
  • Cast a Line or Kayak on the Lake:
    Canoe Lake, the centerpiece of the park, is a popular spot for fishing and kayaking.
    Anglers can cast a line for a variety of fish species, while kayakers can enjoy a peaceful paddle across the tranquil waters, soaking in the scenic views.
  • A Step Back in Time: Historic Lime Kilns:
    Step back in time and explore the park’s historic lime kilns, remnants of Pennsylvania’s 19th-century industrial past.
    Learn about the process of lime production and how these kilns played a vital role in the region’s development.

👉 Explore the scenic beauty and rich history around Arlington, VA. Book your next adventure to places where each turn reveals a new surprise, from lush vineyards to historic battlegrounds.

Tips for Planning Your Day Trip:

Interstate 95 - Virginia

Best Times to Visit:

It’s a good idea to research your destination before your trip to find the best times to visit.

Visiting popular spots on weekdays or early mornings can offer a quieter and less crowded experience.

For outdoor activities, consider the local weather and seasonal changes, such as the fall foliage season in Shenandoah or the blooming periods for gardens and parks.

What to Pack:

When packing for your trip, make sure to bring some essential items depending on your destination.

These may include comfortable walking shoes, water, snacks, a camera, sunscreen, and layers of clothing to prepare for changing weather conditions.

For specific activities such as hiking or visiting the beach, remember to pack the necessary items, such as hiking boots, swimwear, or binoculars for birdwatching.

This will ensure that you are well-prepared and can enjoy your activities to the fullest.

Plan Ahead:

Before visiting a place, check for any ticket requirements, parking details, or travel advisories.

To enhance your visit, many places provide online resources, maps, historical context, and self-guided tours.

Stay Flexible:

It’s always great to have a plan, but some of the best discoveries come from spontaneous decisions.

Make sure to leave room in your schedule to explore a side trail, visit a local eatery recommended by the locals, or just take in the scenery.

👉 With Skyscanner, the possibilities for day trips from Arlington, VA, are endless.

Final Thoughts: Making the Most of Your Day Trip

Rosslyn, Arlington Virginia

Beyond the familiar bustle of Arlington, Virginia, lies a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

From historical gems to breathtaking natural wonders, a day trip opens the door to adventure, history, and captivating beauty.

Every escape from Arlington offers a chance to break free from routine and embrace something new.

Imagine exploring a historic site and being transported back in time, or feeling the exhilaration of an outdoor adventure. Perhaps you simply seek the serenity of a scenic drive. 

These day tours enrich our lives with lasting memories and broaden our perspectives.

So, pack your bags, set your sights on new horizons, and embark on a journey of discovery.

Explore the world around you and find joy in the act of exploration itself.

Here’s to your next day trip adventure, where hidden wonders await and the journey itself becomes a treasured memory.

👉 Find your ideal base for day trips starting from Arlington, VA. From cozy bed and breakfasts to luxury spas, ensure your short journey is as comfortable as it is exciting.