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Washington D.C. is a city like any other, in large part because of the monuments, memorials, and history found here. But the modern comforts of D.C. set it apart as well, between the culture felt in neighborhoods from Georgetown to Adams Morgan, the museums, and the bar and restaurant scene. Nonetheless, sometimes you need an escape from the city you love. And in Washington D.C., you’re well-positioned to explore much of the eastern seaboard in just a short road trip. With that in mind, here are our favorite weekend trips from Washington D.C.
Richmond is equal parts college town and historic, garden-filled city. The perfect escape in Richmond starts with booking the Richmond suite at The Jefferson Hotel, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner. This hotel radiates historic opulence and they host a lovely Sunday Champagne Brunch with live jazz. A weekend in Richmond should involve visiting a few museums—we’d recommend the Virginia Museum of the Fine Arts, and literary scholars might even follow that up with a trip to the Edgar Allen Poe Museum. There’s also no shortage of outdoor activities here; Richmond is home to 14 public and 18 private golf courses and the James and Appomattox Rivers, where you can canoe, swim, or just walk along the water. In the evenings, sample the Modern French fare at L’Opossum, the Spanish small plates at Restaurant Adarra, or the Latin-Southern fusion (and phenomenal cocktails) at Saison. Then, experience the arts of Richmond at the Richmond Symphony, the Richmond Ballet, or the Concert Ballet of Virginia.
Philly is just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Washington D.C., and a truly underrated weekend trip—we love the great hotels, restaurants, museums, and outdoor activities to be found in Philadelphia. For a cultural day in Philly, start at the Barnes Foundation, with an astounding impressionist collection and a series of rotating exhibits, and the Philadelphia Art Museum. From the Barnes, it’s just a short walk to one of our favorite hotels, Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia at Comcast Center, an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner and one of the tallest buildings in the city. Even if you don’t stay here, grab a cocktail at JG Sky High, or dinner at Jean-Georges Philadelphia. Alternately, for a post modern hotel experience in Rittenhouse Square, stay at The Rittenhouse, also an American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts partner with a relaxing spa, indoor pool, and terrace with a view. When golden hour hits in Philly, take a beautiful walk along Schuylkill River, and for dinner, check out chef Jose Garces’ restaurant, Volvér, asian fusion at Sampan, or Israeli-inspired cuisine at Zahav, by Global Dining Collection chef Michael Solomonov.
Williamsburg is a breath of fresh air, and exactly three hours from D.C. by car. Stay at Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection, the epitome of quaint boutique luxury in an 18th-century style home with modern amenities, or Williamsburg Inn, which also draws inspiration from Colonial Williamsburg to curate a luxury stay. If you can’t get enough of the architectural anomalies in Williamsburg, visit the Governor’s Palace, the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Art Museum, and The Wren Building on the William and Mary campus. There’s also some local retail therapy to be had here; from the art at Gallery at York Hall to Danforth Pewter and the Williamsburg Craft House to the Williamsburg Premium Outlets. For a day of shopping, culture, and history, refuel for lunch at Carrot Tree Kitchens, known for their fresh baked goods and excellent sandwiches. In the evening, double back to Merchants Square for a drink at Precarious Beer Project and dinner at the Fat Canary.
Ocean City, New Jersey
Ocean City, New Jersey is one of America’s favorite beach towns, and a very doable weekend trip from Washington D.C. Stay at a luxury bed and breakfast steps from the water; reserve a villa apartment at Atlantis Inn, or the treehouse room or fireplace suite at Ocean City Mansion. Spend your mornings wandering the Ocean City boardwalk, an institution since 1902, with a latte from Ocean City Coffee Company in hand. As you relax on the beach, pop in to Kohr Brothers for frozen custard and a slice of pizza for lunch at Manco’s. Rent bikes for the boardwalk at Ocean City Bicycle Center, kayaks from DAKS Kayaks, or paddleboards from OC Paddleboard. Or if your kids in that phase where they can’t stop talking about amusement parks, bring them to Gillian’s Wonderland Pier. For happy hour, stop in at Yesterday’s, both a bottle shop and a restaurant and bar, and then play a round of mini golf on the boardwalk at Congo Falls. End your evening with dinner at Spadafora’s Seafood & Clam Bar.
When visiting Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay, stay across the water on Kent Island at Inn and Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, a luxurious retreat with 77 guestrooms. Across the bay in Annapolis, amble along the quaint streets of Historic Downtown Annapolis, take the kids to feed the ducks at City Dock with an ice cream cone from Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory, and immerse yourself in the city’s history at the William Paca House. To experience Chesapeake Bay to its fullest, rent equipment at Annapolis Canoe and Kayak and get out on the water. For lunch or dinner, the food scene in Annapolis alone is worth driving for; have dinner at Sailor Oyster Bar and drinks at Dry 85, a Prohibition-style speakeasy. Back on Kent Island, don’t miss the farm-to-table fare at Knoxie’s Table at the Inn and Chesapeake Bay Beach Club.