Last-minute getaways north, south, east and west of DC

WASHINGTON If you find you’re in need of one — or two — last-minute getaways before summer ends, D.C.-based travel writer and photographer Jess Moss has a few recommendations.

From a quiet beach town to an exciting city experience, you can access it all within a few hours from Washington, D.C.

In this Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 photo a group of birding enthusiasts finish discuss their day while sampling a flight of beers at the Maine Brewing Company in Freeport, Maine. The Maine Brew Bus tour group combines bird watching and craft beers into popular trips throughout southern Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
West
Find food, beer, nature and culture in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley  One way to escape D.C.’s suffocating summer humidity? Head west to take in some fresh air and scenic views in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. “I think a lot of people in Washington are familiar with Skyline Drive, maybe Luray Caverns, but there are a ton of great places to explore in that area,” said travel writer and photographer Jess Moss. Beer lovers can taste their way through the Virginia Valley on the Shenandoah Beerworks Trail, which connects 13 breweries from Harrisonburg to Glasgow, while those seeking an outdoor adventure will find numerous hiking trails and campsites. One town Moss highly recommends is Staunton, Virginia, which was named one of America’s favorite mountain towns by Travel & Leisure. The downtown area is rich with restaurants, plus there are plenty of historical sites to visit and cultural experiences to check out, including the American Shakespeare Center’s Blackfriars Playhouse. Additionally, Moss says throughout August, Shenandoah National Park is celebrating its second annual Night Sky Festival with constellation tours and presentations from astronomy experts. (AP/Robert F. Bukaty) (AP/Robert F. Bukaty)
Cape Charles Marina has boats and yachts docked at pier.  Evening light darkens water and landscape on Assateague Island, Virginia.
South
Discover a charming beach town away from the crowds in Cape Charles, Virginia  Delaware, Maryland and Virginia’s beach towns are buzzing this time of year, but if you’re in search of a more quiet aquatic getaway, Moss suggests Cape Charles on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The destination is about three and a half hours from D.C., but well worth the drive once you’re there. “It’s this really small, charming little town, there’s some great Victorian architecture … but it really doesn’t see the massive influx of crowds, so it’s a great way to go and get some quiet time,” Moss said. Visitors can hang out on the beach at Kiptopeke State Park, or go biking, kayaking or paddleboarding. The Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is also in town, which is a big draw for bird-watchers. “It’s really an unexpected place for people to go and spend some time on the bay or the shore and not be inundated with crazy beach crowds,” Moss added. (Thinkstock)  (Getty Images/iStockphoto/nameinfame)
This May 16, 2017 photo shows the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Md. The Harriet Tubman Byway on Maryland's Eastern Shore was designed to help bring to life the famed abolitionist. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
East 
Take in history and views along Maryland’s scenic Harriet Tubman Byway  A new addition to Maryland’s Eastern Shore is the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center, part of the 125-mile Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. The visitor center houses multimedia exhibits on Tubman’s life, and the Byway highlights 36 sites related to Tubman and the Underground Railroad. Along the self-guided route, visitors can stop at historic landmarks such as Tubman’s childhood home and the site of her most daring rescues. There are also opportunities along the way to hike, bike, shop and dine. Moss suggests a stop at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. (AP/Patrick Semansky) (AP/Patrick Semansky)
View of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline at dusk,  showing the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers joining to form the Ohio River. Three Rivers Stadium is on the left.  October 7, 1999.  (Photo by Steven Adams/Getty Images)
North
Have an “of the moment” city adventure in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  For a city experience, Moss says, hands down, go to Pittsburgh. “People looking for a city break maybe assume Philly or New York, and while those are wonderful and there’s plenty to do there, I think Pittsburgh is perfect for a weekend escape,” she said.  “It’s having a moment right now. There’s an amazing food scene there; it’s a really great city with a great culture.”  Since it’s still summer, Moss says make sure you get to a baseball game at PNC Park. There are plenty of historic sites to visit, as well as old warehouses that have been repurposed into new businesses. “It’s small, it’s manageable, it’s about four hours driving time from D.C., and it’s a really pretty drive,” Moss added. (Getty Images) (Getty Images/Getty Images)
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In this Sunday, Nov. 13, 2016 photo a group of birding enthusiasts finish discuss their day while sampling a flight of beers at the Maine Brewing Company in Freeport, Maine. The Maine Brew Bus tour group combines bird watching and craft beers into popular trips throughout southern Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
Cape Charles Marina has boats and yachts docked at pier.  Evening light darkens water and landscape on Assateague Island, Virginia.
This May 16, 2017 photo shows the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center in Church Creek, Md. The Harriet Tubman Byway on Maryland's Eastern Shore was designed to help bring to life the famed abolitionist. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
View of the downtown Pittsburgh skyline at dusk,  showing the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers joining to form the Ohio River. Three Rivers Stadium is on the left.  October 7, 1999.  (Photo by Steven Adams/Getty Images)

 

Related Travel Info.:

Summer Beach Guide
Ocean City beach guide
Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island beach guide
Rehoboth, Dewey, Lewes beach guide


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