5 Day Trips Within a Three-Hour Drive of DC

Rachel Harclerode April 6, 2021

5 Day Trips Within a Three-Hour Drive of DC

If you live in the DMV, you live within a few hours of so many great places. We’re going to share 5 towns you can travel to for a fun day trip within three hours or less! We also included sample itineraries that show just a few examples of places you can eat and things you can do in each town. Let us know if you try out one of these itineraries and let us know how your trip goes!

1. Ellicott City, MD

Distance from DC: 1 hour, 15 minutes

What to Do: Ellicott City is a beautiful city in Maryland filled with historic charm. The city boasts over 65 stores, galleries, museums, restaurants, and other activities for you to enjoy on a day trip.


Here is a sample itinerary you can use for a fun-filled day trip to Ellicott City:

            9AM: Grab coffee and breakfast at Little Market Cafe

10AM-2PM: Go shopping along Main St., and be sure to stop at Reclaimed By You, where you can create your own decor using reclaimed items! Also be sure to stop at the Forget-Me-Not Factory, Gramp’s Attic Books, and Attic Antiques N Things.

2:30PM: Head to the Artists’ Gallery to see the current monthly exhibit containing art from 25 local artists.

4PM: Head to Grille 620 for American food with “Mediterranean flair.”

6:30PM: Grab handmade, artisanal ice cream from Moorenko’s Ice Cream for dessert.

7PM: Get on the road and arrive home before 9PM!

2. Charlottesville, VA

Distance from DC: 2.5 hours

What to Do: If you haven’t been to Charlottesville yet, put it at the top of your bucket list! From breweries to mountain-top vineyards and much more, this charming town is a great place to travel to. There’s also a pedestrian Historic Downtown Mall that has over 120 shops and 30 restaurants.


Here’s a sample itinerary for your trip (although you might need to come back for a second trip or extend your trip to multiple days since there’s so much to do here!):


9AM: Head to Mudhouse Coffee Roasters to start your day off with a delicious pick-me-up! We suggest going to the location in the Historic Downtown Mall and sitting on their patio while you enjoy your coffee; from here, you’ll be able to people watch everyone walking around the outdoor mall!

10AM: Stay at the Mall and do some shopping! There’s plenty to peruse: the toy and game store Shenanigans, the used bookstore Blue Whale Books, the Market Street Market, and plenty more.

12:30PM: Grab lunch at the Mall at one of its many popular restaurants. One great option is South Street Brewery, which offers food from many local artisans.

2PM: You can’t visit Charlottesville without visiting a vineyard. There are more than 35 wineries within a 30-mile radius of Charlottesville, so we’ll narrow it down to a couple of options for you. Jefferson Vineyards and Mount Ida Reserve are two great options that overlook stunning mountain scenery.

5PM: Head to Mellow Mushroom for a delicious pizza dinner. Their restaurant on Main St. is unique, colorful, and a great experience!

7PM: Enjoy a very unique dessert from Iron Paffles & Coffee!


3. Richmond, VA

Distance from DC: 2.5 hours

What to Do: The only negative thing about visiting Richmond is that there are too many restaurants and activities to choose from! But no matter what you decide to do, you’ll have an incredible trip filled with good food and fun memories.


Try out this sample itinerary when you take your day trip to Richmond:

9AM: Fuel up at Guide Roasting Company, a locally and family-owned coffee shop.

10AM: Grab breakfast or brunch at Perk! Coffee & Lunchbox!

12PM: Head to Ashton Creek Vineyard to sample yummy wine.

2:30PM: Visit the Riverfront Canal Walk. Here you’ll find public art, statues, and exhibits along the beautiful canal.

5PM: Grab some drinks and dinner at Stella’s to end the day.

7PM: Finally, indulge in a decadent milkshake at Coco + Hazel before heading home!


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4. Annapolis, MD

Distance from DC: 1 hour

What to Do: Annapolis is a beautiful and charming city full of great shops, restaurants, and places to explore. We recommend heading downtown to truly experience what Annapolis is all about: historic beauty, Chesapeake Bay life, and delicious food.


Use our sample itinerary for ideas as you plan your trip:

9AM: Start your day with coffee at Ceremony Coffee Roasters.

10AM: Head to Iron Rooster downtown for a delicious, one-of-a-kind brunch. Be sure to try their homemade pop-tarts!

11:30AM: Shop downtown on Main St.! There’s plenty of stores along the charming, brick-paved street in the historical downtown area.

           1PM: Grab some lunch at Federal House right by the Harbor. For extra fun,                 ask for an outside table and count how many dogs you see pass by!

           3PM: Spend the afternoon at the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park!

           5PM: Head to Black Wall Hitch for crab dip appetizer and dinner.

7PM: Finish your day in the best way possible: getting dessert from Storm Brothers Ice Cream Company and sitting by the harbor as you enjoy yummy ice cream!


5. Old Town Alexandria, VA

Distance from DC: 20 minutes

 What to Do: Alexandria boasts both historic charm and a “vibrant now.” It can best be described as the heart of one of the South’s best cities, and is a great place for a day trip.


Check out this sample itinerary for when you go:

           9AM: Grab some coffee and a quick breakfast from Misha’s Coffee.

10AM: Spend your next few hours biking ride around Old Town Alexandria, where you’ll pass by beautiful historic homes, vibrant morals, and plenty of shops !

           12PM: Stop at Mia’s Italian Kitchen for an authentic Italian meal.

2PM:  Walk the King Street Mile; named one of the “Great Streets” in America, this waterfront road will take you by centuries-old architecture, boutiques, coffee shops, museums, and more.

5PM: Grab carry out from Spice Kraft Indian Bistro and bring it to Waterfront Park for a peaceful picnic.

            7PM: End the day with a delicious treat from Alexandria Cupcakes!


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