Ready to embark on one of these weekend getaways near DC for families? While Washington, DC, provides a wide variety of family-friendly activities, sometimes a weekend getaway is just what a family needs to mix up their travels. Whether you’re in the mood to immerse yourself in nature, learn about American history, or simply relax on the beach, DC puts you close to it all. Visit major cities like Philadelphia for a jam-packed, super-fun vacation. Or, take it down a notch at more low-key destinations such as Harper’s Ferry. Which of these amazing weekend getaways near DC for families you select will ultimately depend on your family and what type of vacation you’re expecting. Just in case you need some advice, I’ve put together a list. Here, we explore nine perfect weekend getaway ideas near DC (in the greater mid-Atlantic region), which promise to deliver an unforgettable family trip!
Another Capital City with History and Culture
Richmond, Virginia, has so much to offer as one of the best weekend getaways near DC for families. As a state capital, the State Capitol Building is an obvious attraction. For museum-goers, try local family favorites like the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Edgar Allen Poe Museum, Science Museum of Virginia, the Black History Museum, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. To explore outside, consider the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, a riverfront canal cruise, or Belle Isle within the James River Park. In between activities, there are countless family-friendly ways to fuel up. Richmond has some of the best barbecue around at places like ZZQ, Buz and Ned’s, and Q Barbeque. And the local brewery scene can satisfy both kids and adults. There are so many centralized in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Ardent Craft Ales, for example, has both beer and juice boxes, gourmet hoagies, and ice cream sandwiches.
Note: Tours for the State Capitol Building are expected to resume in 2023 after numerous construction projects are completed.
Where to Stay in Richmond with Kids
Look for family-friendly amenities at Richmond-area hotels during your family weekend getaways in VA. The Omni Richmond Hotel, for example, has an Omni Kids Crew amenity package and a pool. The Residence Inn Downtown (or the West End location) offers more space to stretch out and make yourself at home with kitchens and bedrooms. The Jefferson Hotel offers a potential home base for history buffs and those looking for a five-star experience. Hotels are not located directly within some of the more popular neighborhoods for shopping and dining. This includes the Fan District, Carytown, Scott’s Addition, and The Museum District – so look into rental sites for lodging options there. Regardless of where you choose to stay this weekend getaway from DC is sure to please!
READ RELATED: The Best Hikes Near DC For Families
Surrounded by Nature and Small-Town Appeal
Luray, Virginia, may only be about two hours from Washington, D.C., but your family getaway will feel worlds away. Nature is the main appeal, with activities on land and in the water. One of the most popular is cruising Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park; Luray is located adjacent to the Thornton Gap Entrance. There are also plenty of trails for all levels. Similarly, George Washington National Forest offers hiking, without the park entrance fee. The shorter, paved Storybook and Lion’s Tale Trails are especially good for families with young children. The area also boasts Luray Caverns, where it’s rain-free and feels 65 degrees year-round. For some canoeing, kayaking, tubing, or rafting, check out Shenandoah River Outfitters. The main downtown of Luray has a few cute shops, restaurants, and even a brewery. Stop by Gathering Grounds for amazing food for breakfast and lunch or just a baked treat!
Where To Stay In Luray With Kids
Luray sits within Page County, the Cabin Capital of Virginia. Look for rentals with games, a hot tub, a swing set, and other family-friendly amenities. For those seeking a resort on this weekend getaway from DC, check out Massanutten Resort by Tripforth which offers homes, villas, and hotel rooms with additional amenities like skiing, swimming, or golf, depending on the season. And be sure to learn more about Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, which gives families access to cabins and campsites, amenities like a water park. Enjoy activities from basketball to bingo during one of the best weekend getaways near DC for families!
Steeped in Our Nation’s History with Modern Gems, Too
Come learn about the United States’ earliest history with a visit to Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown. Escape to colonial times in the historic area of Williamsburg, with numerous activities daily. Enjoy visiting the Governor’s Palace or meeting the town carpenter! While anyone can visit the area, tickets are required to participate in activities and enter buildings. Don’t forget to stop by one of several taverns for a meal inspired by 18th-century recipes. Kids 15 and under get free admission to nearby Historic Jamestown, which has daily tours and family-friendly programming to teach the trades and skills needed in colonial times. Weather not cooperating? In neighboring Newport News, check out the Virginia Living Museum, which showcases the state’s natural heritage. For those seeking a faster pace, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA offer theme park thrills for all ages – including seasonal activities for the fall and holidays.
Where to Stay in Williamsburg with Kids
In looking where to stay in Williamsburg with kids, Great Wolf Lodge is a destination within itself – with an indoor (and weather-permitting outdoor) waterpark, arcade, spa, and much more on the premises. For a stay on the James River, look at the Kingsmill Resort, which offers cottages and traditional rooms, alongside kid- and parent-approved activities like indoor and outdoor pools, boating, golf, a game room, and a spa. In addition to numerous chain hotels within central Williamsburg, there are a number of Colonial Williamsburg Resorts properties, including the family-friendly Woodland Suites and Hotel. No matter what accommodations you choose, Williamsburg will prove to be one of the best weekend getaways from DC for your family!
Harper’s Ferry, WV
Get Outdoors and on the River
One of the best weekend trips from DC with kids is to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The outdoors should feature prominently in any family trip here, as it sits within a National Historical Park. Companies like River Riders, Harpers Ferry Adventure Center, and River & Trail Outfitters offer so much for weekenders of all ages. While river rafting and whitewater rafting are a highlight, there’s also zip-lining, canoeing, kayaking, biking, and hiking. For those who prefer to explore without a guide, check out the views along Jefferson Rock. Or, the more ambitious Maryland Heights Trail. Catch up on Civil War history at more than a half dozen historical sites. And train buffs should not miss the Harpers Ferry Toy Train Museum of Joy Line Railroad. The downtown is a cute area to walk around. Finally, be sure to grab a treat at True Treats Historic Candy!
Where to Stay in Harper’s Ferry with Kids
If you need a place for a night or more during your kid-friendly weekend trip from DC, the Harpers Ferry/Civil War Battlefields KOA is a notable destination with a pool, mini-golf, craft room, jumping pillow, arcade, movie theater, and more among cabins, tent sites, and RV sites. For families who love camping, Treehouse Camp offers year-round cottages, three-season tree houses, and tent sites that can accommodate one to four tents. Families with older children (ages 12 and up) can stay at the Light Horse Inn, a historic home. Located at the center of town, the Light House Inn includes breakfast and board games during downtime. And there are several traditional hotels for your weekend getaway near DC near the center of Harper’s Ferry, as well, including the Clarion Inn and Quality Inn.
A Neighboring City with Tons of Charm
Less than an hour away, Baltimore, Maryland, is a great option for a family weekend getaway from DC. A central gathering spot is the Inner Harbor, which has restaurants, like Miss Shirley’s Café, and shopping. For museum buffs, check out Port Discovery Children’s Museum or the Maryland Science Center. The National Aquarium is also a must-see attraction. For water-related activities, boat lovers can get a glimpse into life at sea at Historic Ships, tap into their inner pirate with Urban Pirates, or take the water taxi. Sports lovers will enjoy Camden Yards, home of the Baltimore Orioles, and the Baltimore Ravens’ M&T Bank Stadium. Tours are offered in addition to the games. The B&O Railroad Museum showcases train history and indoor and outdoor fun for train lovers. For some of the best food around, Little Italy is a central spot for restaurants and dessert, including Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop.
Where to Stay in Baltimore with Kids
When considering lodging, Baltimore offers something for everyone on a weekend getaway from DC, especially as one of the best destinations for weekend getaways near DC for families. For example, the Four Seasons Baltimore is one of the best-value choices among the luxury chain’s properties, with an outdoor pool and spa overlooking the harbor. Comfort Inn and Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor is an all-suite hotel for families wanting more space. Then, SpringHill Suites Baltimore Downtown/Inner Harbor has a few suites as well, and a look inside an old bank vault that showcases some of the building’s history. Finally, the Hampton Inn & Suites Baltimore Inner Harbor also offers families an indoor pool.
Ocean City, MD
Beach, Boardwalk, and So Much More
Families are spoiled for choice on weekend trips from DC in Ocean City, Maryland. Water activities play prominently at this popular summer destination, with miles and miles of beach and bayfront to enjoy. Play in the sand, body surf the waves, or cruise in a rental from Bayside Boat Rentals. The boardwalk offers plenty of action on dry land, including rides, arcades, mini-golf, and shopping; entertainment centers with similar activities, like Jolly Roger Amusement Park, spread north from there. Then, don’t miss out on plenty of iconic treats! Visit Thrasher’s French Fries, Fisher’s Popcorn, Dumser’s Dairyland, Dough Roller for pancakes and pizza, and Fractured Prune for doughnuts. To connect with nature, take a short drive to Assateague Island. Remember to check out the wild horses that live there!
Where to Stay in Ocean City with Kids
There are so many places to stay in Ocean City, you’re sure to have one of the best weekend getaways near DC for families! Here, make the most of your time with a hotel loaded with kid-friendly amenities. The Princess Royal Oceanfront Resort sits on the beach and boasts an indoor, Olympic-sized pool. The Holiday Inn and Suites Ocean City offers children’s pools inside and along the beach, as well as a water slide. Then, Dunes Manor provides suites for more space, as well as an indoor pool. The Carousel Hotel and Condos even has an ice rink. Finally, for an option on the bayside of town, families can enjoy two- and three-bedroom units with water views at Bay Club Resort during their weekend getaway near Washington, DC. Note that some properties require a minimum stay, especially during the peak summer season.
History and Adventure Just Hours Away
Like most major cities, it’s difficult to fit everything into one visit to Philadelphia. Some of the most iconic landmarks are in the city’s old part, anchored by Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and Betsy Ross House. Nearby, other unique sites are sure to please families – Shane Confectionery, America’s oldest candy store, and Fireman’s Hall Museum. For food lovers, enjoy family-friendly markets and food halls, including Reading Terminal Market and the Italian Market in Little Italy. Plus, those who love a good cheesesteak can sample the options to decide their favorite. The Art Museum District houses some interesting destinations, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute, and Eastern State Penitentiary. Then, Franklin Square boasts a carousel, mini-golf, and burger joint adjacent to a 100-year-old fountain. Further afield, families will enjoy time at the Philadelphia Zoo, Longwood Gardens, or one of the most kid-friendly museums, the Please Touch Museum.
RELATED: Taking a weekend getaway near Washington, DC during the winter months? Check out these 14 Things To Do In Philadelphia With Kids During Winter.
Where to Stay in Philadelphia with Kids
On your weekend getaways from DC, Rittenhouse Square offers a central home base for any family. The Sonesta Philadelphia boasts the largest heated outdoor pool in the city, and bonus rooftop views, though the Four Seasons Philadelphia has the highest pool – on the 57th floor. For families wanting to settle themselves in the Old City, Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District is steps from the main attractions. For an option a bit further from downtown, consider the Chestnut Hill Hotel, which is nestled in a great neighborhood for shopping and dining, offering free breakfast and marshmallows for the on-site fire pit!
Lancaster County, PA
Going Back in Time
Families can enjoy modern-day and old-time adventures during a weekend escape to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Home to the Amish, a community steeped in tradition that shies away from modern technologies. Experience their lifestyle at places like the Amish Farm and House and the Amish Village, which offer glimpses into Amish day-to-day life. Take a bus tour to real Amish communities with kid-friendly activities like petting zoos, playgrounds, and country cooking. Then, train lovers will enjoy a ride on a traditional steam train with Strasburg Railroad – America’s oldest operating railroad! For modern-day fun, Dutch Wonderland offers amusement park rides, shows, and a water park during warmer weather. If you have a sweet tooth, Turkey Hill Experience is a must-visit destination. Visitors can sample ice teas and ice creams. Plus, create a signature ice cream flavor, packaging, and commercial. The Taste Lab also enables your family to bring creamy creations to life.
Where to Stay in Lancaster County with Kids
There are so many unique places to stay during your exciting weekend getaways from DC, all of which are perfect for a family vacation! Visitors can immerse themselves in some of their favorite cartoon characters with a stay at Cartoon Network Hotel. It is adjacent to Dutch Wonderland, and can keep families busy on-site with pools, an arcade, a play area, and a seasonal outdoor movie screen. For boat lovers, book a passage with the Steamboat Inn and enjoy a family-friendly room with bunk or trundle beds. And for a unique experience for those who can’t get enough of trains, stay in a real train car at the Red Caboose Motel. There are plenty of traditional hotels as well!
A Sweet, Action-Packed Destination
Chocoholics and thrill-seekers can look forward to a family-friendly getaway to Hershey, Pennsylvania. Not only is it one of the best places for a weekend away from DC, but it also offers a fun family vacation for all ages. The main destination is Hersheypark®, which has three attractions within the grounds – a theme park (including a water park in the warmer months), a zoo, and an illustrative chocolate factory and store, Hershey’s Chocolate World. Tickets to the park allow access to the zoo and theme park. Plus, anyone can visit Chocolate World for free, besides parking. If you’re not sure you can fit it in during the day, tickets allow you to access the park the evening before. For a break, check out a Hershey Bears hockey game, learn about Milton Hershey at The Hershey Story Museum or walk among the flowers, greenery, and butterfly sanctuary at Hershey Gardens.
Where to Stay in Hershey with Kids
If you’re looking for accommodations during your weekend getaways near DC for families, you’ll have plenty of choices in Hershey. There are three official Hersheypark resorts – the Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge, and Hersheypark Camping Resort. Each offers benefits, such as reduced-price tickets, free parking, and extended hours. However, there is no shortage of family-friendly hotels in the Hershey-Harrisburg area. For example, Homewood Suites Harrisburg East-Hershey and Residence Inn Harrisburg-Hershey have suites to spread out and kitchen amenities. Finally, County Inn & Suites Harrisburg and Hilton Garden Inn Hershey both have indoor pools, ideal for a family-friendly weekend away near DC!
We hope this list featuring 9 Exciting Weekend Getaways Near DC for Families helped fill up your calendar with family-fun weekend trips from the Washington, DC area! Whether cityscape or countryside, there are plenty of weekend getaway ideas near DC to keep families busy year-round within minutes or hours of our nation’s capital! Enjoy these weekend getaways from DC with your kids!
This article was written by FLT Top Contributor, Megan Tucker. Find more from Megan and her family adventures on their blog, Three Men and a Lady. Unless otherwise noted, all images in this article are courtesy of Megan Tucker.
*Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the attractions, accommodations, or things to do on this list may be closed or experiencing reduced services. Please ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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