It’s hard to top the mid-Atlantic region for vacationers who want to see and do everything without traveling too far. It’s also a great boon to locals, as there’s an unending supply of places to explore within just a day’s drive.
Growing up in Virginia, my family spent its fair share of time cruising around the region exploring its offerings. Today my fellow Virginian Megan is sharing her favorite day trips from Baltimore. I love her ideas because they offer something for everyone – outdoorsy types, people looking for great food and music, history buffs, families visiting Baltimore with kids and more! These 11 Baltimore day trips give you even more reason to stay in Maryland’s largest city even longer.
Where To Stay In Baltimore
Baltimore has a mix of really lovely neighborhoods… and also some where many vacationers wouldn’t prefer to stay. Check out these top-rated hotels in the pleasant Inner Harbor area of the city – you’ll have great access to Camden Yards, the National Aquarium, lovely strolling and more.
The other great option around the Inner Harbor is Airbnb. There are plenty of choices!
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Should You Take a Day Trip from Baltimore?
Baltimore is a fantastic city for a weekend break but there are so many other amazing places to visit near Baltimore! The city and the DC area can offer a lot of sensory overload for someone who thrives in a quieter setting, but fortunately, there are plenty of parks and green spaces nearby.
If you’re planning to stay in Baltimore for two days, definitely try adding a third day to either side of your trip to take one of the many Baltimore day trips that exist.
You’ll need a car for nearly all of these day trips (except the big cities). Renting a car at BWI Airport is sort of disastrous and parking at downtown hotels is pricey, so if you’re staying in town for a while I recommend renting your car at a city location once you’re ready to get out and explore the mid-Atlantic region. Check Rentalcars.com – I love the discounted pricing and flexible cancellation policies.
These are eleven fantastic places to visit near Baltimore for those looking for a day adventure.
Best Baltimore Day Trips
Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)
Distance: 110 miles
Driving Time: 2 hours
Shenandoah is one of the most beautiful national parks on the east coast. Sitting high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the long and narrow park offers terrific hiking opportunities throughout the year.
Read more: Shenandoah National Park With Kids
With over 500 miles of trails, it is easy to immerse yourself in the blissful nature of the park while keeping an eye out for some of the areas’ wilder residents. Across the top of the park is one of the country’s most scenic roads, Skyline Drive, which stretches the entire 105-mile length of the park.
The road teeters on the ridge, and there are plenty of stopping points where you can enjoy panoramic views of the mountains and the Shenandoah Valley below. The park is open year-round, but given its elevation during winter in Shenandoah, parts of it might be inaccessible due to heavy snowfall.
Distance: 40 miles
Driving Time: 50 minutes
Just south of Baltimore is the nation’s capital, Washington DC. There are a vast array of amazing sites and things to do in the city that it is truly impossible to see everything in a short amount of time.
Read more: Washington DC With Kids
However, within a day, you can see the city’s highlights and enjoy the vital role in history this city has played. The majority of the key sites are centered around the National Mall, a large park and green space on the edge of downtown Washington.
You will find some world-famous monuments within the park, such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and numerous other monuments dedicated to great Americans.
You will also find some of the most incredible Smithsonian Museums within the park, which are renowned for being some of the best museums on the planet.
On the edge of the National Mall, you will also find the White House. Cross over the Potomac River and visit the poignant Arlington Cemetery, the final resting place of some of America’s most influential citizens and one of the best things to do in Arlington, Virginia.
Distance: 110 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Philadelphia is one of the most important cities in the whole of the US and, for a short period of time, was the nation’s capital. The city played a huge role in the founding of America, and as a result, there are plenty of historical sites dotted around the city.
The Independence National Historical Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is also home to Independence Hall and Liberty Bell. Philadelphia has an incredible art scene and is home to many galleries and museums, making it the perfect day trip from Baltimore for history lovers.
The Philadelphia Museum of Arts is one of the largest in the world, and the iconic steps leading up to the entrance was one of the filming locations in Rocky, and you’ll even find a statue there in the film series’ honor.
For a darker experience, a visit to the Eastern State Penitentiary provides an interesting glimpse into the modern prison system. The now-defunct prison housed notorious criminals such as Al Capone, and today serves as a hands-on, informative museum.
Rehoboth Beach (Delaware)
Distance: 125 miles
Driving Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Rehoboth is the largest beach resort area in Delaware. It is often referred to as the “Nation’s Summer Capital” due to the influx of visitors from Washington, D.C. during the summer months.
The cheerful beach resort town has a beautiful beach that stretches for a great distance along the Mid-Atlantic coast. The waters around the beach are regularly rated amongst the cleanest in the United States.
Along the beachfront is a thriving boardwalk full of restaurants and bars where you can relax in the evening once the sun has set. On the boardwalk, you will also find Funland, a small theme park from the 1960s, perfect for those visiting with younger children.
The town of Rehoboth Beach has an inclusive vibe and there is a vibrant LGBT scene. For craft beer lovers, Dog Fish Head’s original brewpub is located in Rehoboth Beach.
To the north of the town is Cape Henlopen State Park. There are plenty of trails throughout the park’s sand dunes and along the wild beaches.
Michaux State Forest (Pennsylvania)
Distance: 75 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Michaux State Forest is a large forest that covers three counties in southern Pennsylvania and part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The forest is historically significant because it was the site of the first forestry school in America.
Before being a protected forest, the area was heavily mined and bears the scars from this time, with large fields of missing trees situated where the kilns burned.
Throughout the park, there is a fantastic network of routes that work their way through the forest and are perfect for hiking and biking. You’ll also find part of the renowned Appalachian Trail there and keen hikers can complete a section of this mammoth walk that stretches down the country from Maine to Georgia.
Visiting Michaux State Forest is a wonderful day trip from Baltimore for adventurers and nature lovers.
Distance: 50 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour
In western Maryland, you will find the quaint city of Frederick. The city’s skyline is dominated by spires of the historic churches that play a crucial role in the city’s identity. Downtown Frederick offers quaint strolling along Carroll Creek and plenty of spots to grab a coffee or drop in at the nostalgic North Market Pop Shop.
Frederick was the site of one of the last attacks by the Confederates on Union territory at Monacacy National Battlefield. Within Maryland, you can find the fascinating National Museum of Civil War Medicine, which teaches you all about the history of medicine during the bloody war.
Just outside of the city is Gambrill State Park, a relatively small recreational park with several designated trails for hiking and biking. One of the park’s main attractions are the stone lookout points on the mountain where you can look out over the surrounding area.
If you plan to stay around Frederick on a summer evening, the local Frederick Keys minor league baseball team is a great way to experience a local slice of Americana!
Distance: 160 miles
Driving Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
Known as the Monopoly City, Atlantic is one of the best places to visit in New Jersey. The city came to life as the area was considered the perfect location for an Atlantic resort town.
An extensive boardwalk was built along the beachfront, the first of its kind in the country, There were also many restaurants, hotels, and entertainment facilities built. After gambling became legal in Atlantic City and nowhere else in New Jersey, casinos were rapidly constructed and breathed new money and life into the city after a period of economic decline.
While Atlantic City can’t compete with Las Vegas for its luxury, it is still a fun place to visit for the day, offering far more than just gambling. During the summer months, the city bustles with life, and there are often various events happening along the boardwalk. Walk along the coast to the Absecon Lighthouse, the third-largest masonry lighthouse in the country.
Distance: 35 miles
Driving Time: 40 minutes
Maryland’s state capital is Annapolis, a beautiful and historic city sitting on the Chesapeake Bay. The city played a pivotal role in the country’s history and was the capital of the entire country for a brief moment in time.
Today, there is a beautiful historic district where you can see fantastic examples of various architectural influences. There are several brilliant museums littered throughout the city, including the Banneker-Douglass Museum which has exhibits about the history of African Americans in Maryland.
Annapolis prides itself on its theater scene with several theaters located in the historic district. They are well known for putting on some internationally acclaimed plays. You can watch outdoor theater at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theater during the summer months and it is the perfect way to enjoy your day trip there.
Since the city sits on the Chesapeake Bay, the restaurants are known for being some of Maryland’s best places for a seafood feast.
Distance: 90 miles
Driving Time: 2 hours 5 minutes
Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania and has played an incredibly important role in American history, from the Civil War all the way to the Industrial Revolution. There are several notable museums within the city, including the National Civil War Museum, which details the war’s history from both sides.
Next to the State Capitol building, which was influenced by St. Peter’s Basilica, is the State Museum of Pennsylvania. The city comes to life in the evenings, with the downtown full of lively bars and clubs. During the summer months, there are various music festivals, including a vibrant jazz scene.
Just outside of Harrisburg is the town of Hershey, a chocolate lovers paradise and the location of historic Hershey Amusement Park. Initially built for the chocolate factory employees in 1906, the park now has 76 attractions and 14 of them are roller coasters, making this the perfect Baltimore day trip for families.
Gunpowder Falls State Park (Maryland)
Distance: 25 miles
Driving Time: 35 minutes
In northeastern Maryland, you’ll find Gunpowder Falls State Park, a large state park that is split into six different sections. Throughout the sections of the park are 120 miles of paths and trails that are perfect for hiking, cycling, and horse riding.
There are 22 different trails that are all relatively easy with varying distances up to 31 miles long. On the river’s edge of the park, there is a 1500 ft beach where you can relax and swim in the Gunpowder River.
Along the waterways, you can also enjoy other water-based activities such as kayaking and fishing. During winter in Gunpowder Falls State Park, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy a nice dusting of snow, making the trails perfect for cross-country skiing.
Distance: 51 miles
Driving Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
Alexandria is a beautiful, historic city located south of Baltimore and on the outskirts of Washington D.C. The charming old district has red brick streets that are lined with cute boutique shops selling unique wares.
Quaint museums detail obscure bits of American history, and the Gadsby Tavern Museum and Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum are must-visits in Alexandria. One of the biggest attractions in Alexandria is Mt Vernon, the former home of George Washington. The house is open for tours, offering a glimpse into how one of the founding fathers lived.
After exploring the house, take the opportunity to peruse the sprawling grounds that are beautifully kept. For more outdoorsy activities, take a bike along the Mt. Vernon Trail, an 18-mile walkway and bike path that takes you from Theodore Roosevelt Island through Alexandria to Mt. Vernon.
Baltimore is one of the best places to visit in the Mid-Atlantic and is a fantastic base to take some great day tours from the city. These day trips from Baltimore have a lot to offer regardless of whether you’re seeking a history trip or a nature-filled one.
Megan Starr is a travel writer and blogger at Virginia Travel Tips from Richmond, Virginia currently based in Yerevan, Armenia and Frankfurt, Germany. She loves nature, delicious coffee, and making friends with cute dogs.
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