With spring break just more than a month away, you and your friends may be starting to iron out vacation plans.
Luckily, the region surrounding DC is packed with hidden gem travel spots for those looking to cut down on transportation costs for an easy getaway. If the logistics of planning a trip has you overwhelmed, we’ve laid out some of our favorite destinations nearby to start nailing down plans for now.
For the granola friend group
Harpers Ferry, W. Va.
Perfect for the nature-loving friend group, Harpers Ferry is home to some of the best hiking trails near DC About an hour-and-a-half drive from campus, this quaint getaway town boasts gorgeous views on trails like the almost 7-mile Maryland Heights Loop. Visitors can run, hike, bird watch or just enjoy the gorgeous view of the river on this trail.
There are a variety of lodging options in Harpers Ferry, from the affordable Clarion Inn starting at $85 a night to campsites at Shenandoah National Park.
For visitors who want to experience the beautiful West Virginia views while still having a comfortable bed to sleep in, The Light Horse Inn will give you the best of both worlds. Built in the 1770s, the inn is one of the most historic homes in West Virginia. This spot is the perfect option to get the full Harpers Ferry experience, containing seven suites with beautiful mountain views and situated between some of the area’s best trails and restaurants. Suites start at $185 a night.
For the friend group that wants to hit the slopes
Liberty Mountain- Carroll Valley, Pa.
For skiers looking for a convenient spot to hit the slopes, book a vacation at Liberty Mountain Resort. The ski resort, located in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Carroll Valley, Pa., is an hour and a half from campus and accommodates skiers of all ages and experience levels with slope and equipment variety. Liberty Mountain also offers tubing and snowboarding for non-skiers who are still craving a snowy getaway.
Liberty Mountain is close enough for a day trip, but students looking for an extended getaway can stay at the resort’s Alpine Lodge, starting at $180 a night. The Alpine Lodge includes complimentary breakfast and is closest to the ski slopes, which makes it the ideal place to stay at Liberty Mountain. The resort also provides amenities like a hot tub and a sauna, a relaxing option when guests are tired after a day of hitting the slopes.
If you find yourself craving a sweet treat, Mr. G’s Ice Cream is just the place for delectable homemade ice cream. Only a 15-minute drive from the resort, the ice cream shop is both a local and tourist favorite. Its hand-churned ice cream ranges from $2 to $4 and serves flavors like butter pecan, fresh peach and salted caramel.
For a classic spring break beach trip
Virginia Beach, Va.
For an affordable beach town and party spot, start planning your trip to Virginia Beach, Va. With fresh seafood, a fun boardwalk and lively beaches to explore, Virginia Beach is sure to produce fun spring break memories. The beach town is about a three-and-a-half-hour drive from campus, but Amtrak tickets from DC to Norfolk, Va. starts at $35 each way. Train rides are about five hours long, and Norfolk is just under 20 minutes outside of Virginia Beach.
For a break from the sun after a few hours at the beach, be sure to stop by the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center. Home to sharks, rays and an assortment of other aquatic species, the aquarium’s impressive 300,000 gallon tank makes it one of the biggest in the country. Standard adult tickets are $24.95.
While it isn’t a luxury resort, The Hilton Garden Inn is an easy place to stay for oceanfront views. With indoor and outdoor pools, a fitness center and dining options like the oceanside Garden Grille for breakfast, the Hilton’s amenities will keep you busy and relaxed throughout your trip. Rooms currently starting at $133 a night.
For those itching to roll the dice
Atlantic City, NJ
You don’t have to travel across the country to Las Vegas to enjoy casinos. Atlantic City, NJ is just more than a three-hour drive or about four-hour Amtrak trip away from the city. To have more spending money for a night of gambling, you can also save on your travel fares by taking a six-hour Greyhound bus trip.
Atlantic City boasts nine casinos, most of which also double as a resort where you can book a hotel room conveniently near the action of the tables and slot machines. The prices for the rooms in the casino hotels are comparable, if not cheaper, than stand-alone hotels in the area.
You might recognize casino names like Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s from their notoriety in Vegas. But locals recommend ditching those for Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Tropicana Casino and Resort or Ocean Casino Resort, which have cleaner, more up-to-date facilities.
Those who don’t want to gamble can still have great time in this vacation spot, treating themselves to a spa treatment at a resort spa or visiting the Atlantic City Boardwalk and shopping until their heart’s content.