Do you find the DC lifestyle to be too hectic? Seeking a quick getaway to revitalize yourself? Fortunately, there are several fantastic weekend trips accessible by train from Washington, DC. We have all the gorgeous walks, historic sites, and charming villages you could want. So why not board a plane and visit some of the best places that are close at hand? Prepare to trade in the city streets for some adventure and fresh air!
#1. New York City
New York City must be at the top of any list of DC weekend trips (or at least included in the top three). You can travel by Amtrak’s Acela Express train in three hours or less from Union Station in Washington to Penn Station in Manhattan. There is something for everyone in the city, whether you want to catch a Broadway musical, go on a gourmet journey at one of the many fantastic restaurants, or spend your entire trip touring the numerous museums.
One of the city’s most recent luxury hotels, The Dominick Hotel, is situated in Hudson Square, close to SoHo and TriBeCa. Lower Manhattan is easily accessible on foot, and a nearby metro stop allows you to get to other parts of the city. The hotel is by far the tallest structure in the neighborhood, providing breathtaking views from its rooms and suites, some of which gaze downtown and others uptown.
#2. Annapolis, Maryland
Travelers wanting a change of scenery from Washington, D.C. frequently visit Annapolis, the capital city of Maryland. The ancient seaport of Annapolis, once known as the “Athens of America,” now lures tourists who want to stroll through its streets packed with shops and restaurants or take a boat tour to see the Chesapeake Bay’s enchantment. Many quaint cafes, museums, and art galleries can be found in historic Annapolis, while the U.S.
The Naval Academy is the country’s second-oldest federal service academy. Weekend visitors can have a picnic at Peaceful Waters Park or spend the afternoon relaxing on Sandy Point State Park’s golden shoreline. Stay at one of the city’s several old inns or hotels when it’s time to retire for the evening. These establishments are well-liked by recent visitors because of their cozy, nautical-themed lodgings and helpful personnel.
#3. Ocean City, New Jersey
A great beach retreat for families is Ocean City, New Jersey, which is three hours from Washington, D.C. It hasn’t sold alcohol since it was established 100 years ago as a place for church retreats. Little hotels and motels are the only accommodations available, and the beachfront is fronted by an antiquated 2.5-mile wooden boardwalk. No mega-resorts are there. Along the boardwalk are stores, eateries, ice cream parlors, and a few amusement parks. The majority of the businesses in Ocean City close for the winter, making it a popular summer weekend getaway location.
The Port-O-Call Hotel, the city’s first high-rise hotel, is located directly on the Boardwalk at 15th Street (10 stories). There is a sizable pool as well as balconies in some of the rooms that look out onto the beach.
Baltimore is a well-liked location for weekend trips and day outings in DC. Reputable art galleries, important landmarks, and popular attractions like the USS Constellation and the National Aquarium can be found there. The Charm City Circulator is free to ride, and travelers can save time by taking an Amtrak train from Washington’s Union Station to Baltimore’s Penn Station. For housing, first-time guests should choose accommodations close to the Inner Harbor or spend the night in one of the city’s eerie, haunted hotels. The Chesapeake Bay provides half the nation’s supply of blue crabs, a favorite delicacy.
#5. Old Town Alexandria, Virginia
Many D.C. employees reside in Alexandria, Virginia, which is located directly across the Potomac River from Washington. But this city also makes for a convenient vacation spot. You can travel there quickly by vehicle or even by train using the Metro.
There are many historic buildings in the Old Town district, which have been transformed into more than 200 independently owned stores and eateries. A mile-long section of King Street, which features cobblestone streets and red-brick walkways, is the focal point of Old Town Alexandria.
On King Street in Old Town, there is a luxurious boutique hotel called The Lorien Hotel & Spa. The modern, fashionable rooms come with pleasant, attentive service and make an effort to integrate visitors into the local culture.
#6. Staunton, Virginia
Take a ride on the Cardinal train to Staunton, Virginia, and travel through time. Woodrow Wilson was born there, and while you’re there, you can visit his presidential library and museum. The ancient, pedestrian-friendly city is home to festivals, an indoor Shakespeare theater replica that hosts live performances, an antique car museum, and other attractions.
Enterprise offers car rentals, but be sure they can pick you up from the railway station by calling in advance. Drive to destinations including the Frontier Cultural Museum, Natural Chimneys Park, Grand Taverns, and Star B Stables while exploring the Shenandoah Valley in a vehicle. The Cardinal only departs Washington, D.C., Alexandria, and Staunton on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, so plan to stay at least two nights. Each route takes roughly four hours to complete.
#7. Virginia Beach
Virginia Beach is one of the best options for those seeking weekend trips from DC. Take the Northeast Regional to Norfolk, Virginia, for the ocean and lots of outdoor activities. To get to Virginia Beach from Norfolk, you can either rent a car or use an Uber or Lyft (25-minute drive). There, you can select from a variety of hotel choices, stroll along the three-mile boardwalk, visit the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Center, and take in free music at Neptune’s Park.
With an evening arrival, the trip to Norfolk from Washington, DC, takes around 4.5 hours. For the return trip, trains depart in the morning, with only one 6:15 a.m. train on Saturday and Sunday, so you can wish to take the weekday 9 a.m. train for your travel home.
#8. Colonial Williamsburg, VA
This is also one of the weekend trips from DC by train. Railroad rides between Washington, DC, and Colonial Williamsburg are excellent ways to travel back in time. Guests who want to learn more about the ghosts of colonial times can purchase a self-guided walking tour with commentary. When you’re following your guide through the town’s streets far after dusk, when no one else is present, The Ultimate and Bone-Chilling Ghost Tour is a lot of fun.
With an outdoor pool, the Williamsburg Woodlands Hotel is a great option for an overnight stay. The family enjoyed hearing about the wilder and more enigmatic occurrences of Colonial Williamsburg after spending the day learning about caring for sheep and making candles.
#9. Gettysburg National Park, PA
One of the most significant weekend trips by rail from Washington, DC, is to see the site of the American Civil War’s Battle of Gettysburg. The Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, battlefield, which is now a national park, offers a fascinating and sobering look at the bloodiest fight of the war. Take one of the two trains leaving Union Station for Marc Washington Station in Maryland after traveling for one hour and forty minutes to arrive here by train. You can choose between going on your own adventure once you’ve arrived in the park or joining one of the numerous amazing excursions that are offered.
One of them is a 10-person maximum licensed battlefield guided carriage tour that lasts for two hours. The 1863 Historic Downtown Walking Tour transports you back to the Civil War’s middle years while providing you with a fresh viewpoint and little-known details. The Hampton Inn Gettysburg is a top-notch hotel near the park that offers a complimentary breakfast each morning as well as an indoor pool and fitness facility.
If there is ever a good time to take the Acela Express, it is from Washington, D.C., to Boston. The journey takes roughly 7 hours, an hour less than the Northeast Regional. It’s a fantastic place to spend the fall, enjoy craft beer, and follow The Freedom Trail to learn about American history. Visit the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Public Garden, Boston Common, the Samuel Adams Brewery, or any of the many other attractions if you’re seeking more things to do. You can even attend a baseball game at Fenway Park.
Your trip planning options might be based on the several Amtrak trains that run daily between Boston and Washington, D.C. If you only have one night to spend in the city, it is doable. You can reserve your tickets to either the Back Bay Station or the South Station, depending on where you want to stay in a hotel, an Airbnb, or any other type of accommodation.
How Many Days in DC is Enough?
How long should I stay in DC? You should visit Washington, DC, for at least a week! If that’s not possible, we advise allowing at least three days for your visit to Washington, DC. There is enough to do here to keep you busy for several days, including fun activities, museums, tours, delicious food, music, and artwork.
How Do You Plan a Weekend Trip?
- Choose what you want to get out of your weekend trip.
- Establish a weekend travel budget.
- Choose your weekend getaway location.
- Decide when to take a weekend vacation.
- Do some research before you go.
- Reserve your lodging in advance.
- Arrange your days ahead.
- Schedule your must-do tasks before departure.
What Month is Best to Visit Washington DC?
September through November and March through May are the ideal months to travel to Washington, D.C. The hot summer is over in the autumn, taking the majority of the peak-season travelers with it. Crisp breezes and changing leaves are all that are left, and they contrast well with all those marble monuments.