There are a lot of great places to day trip from DC. We have a blog post with five great nearby destinations. However, these are four places where you might be tempted to day trip but where you should resist that temptation. These are great places to visit! For that reason, a day trip does not do them justice.
Philadelphia is a great city and a place where our founding fathers spent a lot of time. There is a lot of amazing history here. Philadelphia is a much bigger city than people realize. Sure, you could look at the Liberty Bell, peak inside Independence Hall, and take a photo in front of the Love statue. However, you would be missing out on trying a bunch of cheese steak places, running up the art museum stairs like Rocky and checking out the museums along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. You should at least stay one or more nights to see everything.
2. New York City
We don’t recommend a day trip from DC to New York or vice-versa. New York and Washington DC are actually not as close as people seem to think. Spending a single day in New York really does a disservice to everything America’s biggest city has to offer.
In theory, you could hop Amtrak train at Union Station and in a few hours be exploring in midtown Manhattan. However, in reality, the train takes about three and a half hours and the ticket, best-case scenario, cost at least $50 each way.
If you’re a family of four, is spending four hundred dollars and seven hours on the train really worth it? You will barely crack the surface of what New York has to offer. If you want to get back to DC before midnight, you would need to leave New York no later than 8:30p.m. If you want to go to the Big Apple, spend a few days or more.
Williamsburg, Virginia should be an overnight trip. There are two main things that people go to Williamsburg to do: Busch Gardens, the European themed amusement park and Colonial Williamsburg, the living museum that gives you a chance to explore what the country was like before it was our country. Williamsburg is a hundred and fifty miles away. In ideal conditions you could get there in two and a half hours.
However, a big problem with day tripping to Williamsburg is that to get there you have to drive on Interstate 95. This interstate is infamous for heavy traffic both on weekdays and on weekends. Plus, both Busch Gardens and Colonial Williamsburg are outdoor activities. If you plan to visit in the summer you are going to be spending a lot of time outside in the heat and humidity. Packing it into a single day with a drive back to DC at the end is too much.
4. Virginia Beach
Washington DC is not a coastal city. If you really want to visit the beach, one option is Virginia Beach. The problem with trying to do a day trip is that it is just way too far. Virginia Beach is about 200 miles from DC and the Hampton Roads area has notorious traffic. We don’t recommend pairing a beach trip with a DC trip. However, if you want to do a day trip to a beach when you visit DC, the beaches in Delaware and Maryland are closer.
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Trip Hacks DC was founded by Rob, a veteran tour guide in the Nation’s Capital. Trip Hacks DC provides tips, tricks and travel hacks for planning your trip; and guided tours to show you around once you get here. Our tours are family and school group friendly and our guides specialize in the major Washington, DC sites. Click here to check out the upcoming tour options and to book your tour here today! Feel free to contact us if you have any tour questions.