Springing Into Vacation Season: Five Local Day Trip Destinations

Shanley Tag

Getaways to feel like you’ve changed time zones without straying far from Broadneck.

As the weather becomes increasingly warmer, I’ve been dreaming of a weekend getaway. Vacations are hard to come by during this busy time of year, especially with a shortened spring break. Day trips are a much more convenient option; you save the money and time of distant travel but still reap the benefits of visiting a new place; disconnecting, relaxing, and experiencing. Here are five of my favorite destinations for local day trips, all of which are within a three-hour drive from Annapolis, Maryland.

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Inner Harbor, Baltimore, MD: While Baltimore is laden with day trip activities all across the city, the Inner Harbor area is my personal favorite. This hub within Baltimore city is about forty-five minutes from Annapolis and offers activities for people of all interests. The two largest attractions are the National Aquarium, which features dolphin interactions, a rainforest, and a jellyfish observatory, and the Maryland Science Center, which features an IMAX theater, planetarium, and dinosaur encounter exhibit. Other key aspects of the Inner Harbor are the classic Hard Rock Cafe, a Barnes & Noble in the Power Plant building, and the Harborplace marketplace, which includes various shops and restaurants.

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St. Michael’s, MD: St. Michael’s is a charming town off of Route 50 on the Eastern Shore (just over an hour from Annapolis). I consider it a hidden gem and the best-kept secret of the Eastern Shore as it’s streets, homes, and waterfronts are truly aesthetically-pleasing and picturesque, yet quiet and relaxing. Visiting the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum to learn about local watershed history, touring the 1879 Hooper Strait Lighthouse for an aerial view of the water, or taking a boat out to Tilghman Island are all common summertime activities for those visiting St. Michael’s. Other activities include going to art galleries, candy and ice cream shops, and various clothing stores along the main street in town; you can also visit in December for their own version of Midnight Madness (similar to the holiday shopping extravaganza in downtown Annapolis) each holiday season.

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Chesapeake Beach, MD: Chesapeake Beach is a lesser-known, yet equally-exciting, beach town further south on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s located slightly less than an hour away from Annapolis and features various water sports and activities for its guests to enjoy while staying there. My favorite attraction is the Chesapeake Beach Water Park, a moderately-sized water park with various pools and water slides for children and adults alike (they also offer adult swim, swimming lessons, and private parties). Other activities include spending the day simply enjoying the beach, hiking along the Chesapeake Beach Railway Trail, and going fishing or jet skiing.

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Harpers Ferry, WV: Harpers Ferry is a small town just past the Maryland-West Virginia state lines with both natural/outdoor and historical activities for its visitors. It’s about an hour and thirty minutes away from Annapolis and features an antique downtown area along with an abundance of historical sites, parks, and hiking trails. Some of the most popular activities include the various excursions within Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, John Brown’s Fort

and Monument, and Jefferson Rock. My visit to Harper’s Ferry consisted of a day spent whitewater tubing at River Riders, Inc. along the Potomac River (which was an adrenaline rush!); their other adventures include ziplining, whitewater rafting, camping, and whitewater kayaking.

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Berkeley Springs, WV: This last destination is close to my heart as my family has owned a cabin in Berkeley Springs since I was young. This adorable small town, barely over the Maryland-West Virginia border, past Hancock, is just over two hours from Annapolis and is quite underrated. The downtown area features famous natural springs for walking and swimming (including George Washington’s bathtub from 1748), locally-owned and operated shops and restaurants, a retro movie theater, a farmer’s market on Sundays during the summer, and an inn with a spa at the center of it all. You could travel just past downtown to Cacapon State Park or visit during Columbus Day weekend in the fall to attend the annual Apple Butter Festival, which features a plethora of food vendors, shopping booths, and other local businesses.