At the heart of the eastern seaboard, DC is an ideal base for seeing some of the US’ most fascinating cities and historic sites. Whether you want to step back in time or visit a city that never sleeps, here are our top picks for day trips from DC.
Arlington, VA — 5 miles (8 km) away
With military memorials and long lines of gravestones, Arlington National Cemetery is this city’s most important and moving destination, but visitors to Arlington can also stop by the Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense.
Mount Vernon & Alexandria, VA — 16 miles (26 km) & 8 miles (13 km) away
Martha and George Washington lived on an elegant plantation by the Potomac River known as Mount Vernon, and visiting is a glimpse of 18th-century life—tours of the estate explore the President’s rye distillery, home, and slave quarters. Just upstream from Mount Vernon, Old Town Alexandria is full of Revolutionary-era landmarks and architecture in a quaint, walkable downtown.
Gettysburg, PA — 87 miles (140 km) away
Visit the site of a legendary Civil War battle on a trip to Gettysburg National Military Park. The battlefield is now a peaceful landscape of rolling fields, but the fighting is remembered in a series of monuments, museum exhibits, and a 360-degree cyclorama painted in vivid colors.
New York City, NY — 226 miles (364 km) away
The Big Apple's skyscrapers and boroughs need no introduction and are a quick trip from DC by plane or a longer day excursion by rail. Bus tours, guided tours, and attraction passes are great ways to get your bearings as you spend the day shopping 5th Avenue, exploring NYC highlights, or cruising to the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge.