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With so much already going on in our vibrant city, it's easy for Washingtonians to forget how many exciting escapes are only a quick drive away.
Still, spring can be a tricky season to satiate your wanderlust. The snow has already melted off the ski slopes while seaside resorts are still weeks away from rolling out their beach towels.
Luckily, shoulder season doesn't need to keep you confined to the city on weekends. There are still plenty of fun trips, all accessible by car or train. From cycling tours to wine tours, check out our six favorite escapes.
Cycle Shenandoah National Park
Located just 75 miles north of DC, Shenandoah National Park's 200,000 acres of protected lands are an outdoor enthusiasts dream. From hiking to picnics to watching wildlife, there's never a shortage of things to do in this otherworldly park. But perhaps the best way to explore it is on the back of a bicycle. Cruise through wooded valleys or challenge yourself by riding Skyline Drive, a 105-mile ridge line route running the entire length of the park.
Virginia Wine Country
Keep the Tour de France spirit alive by parking the bike and dipping into Virginia Wine Country, better known as Loudoun County. This beautifully bucolic region boasts vintages to rival those found in Napa, all set only 90 minutes outside of DC. Wineries like Tarara, Three Fox Vineyards and Fabbioli Cellars offer fantastic tastings, while the restaurants -- from classic American to small plates to multi-course gourmet -- are equally acclaimed. Book a room at one of the many cozy (not to mention affordable) B&Bs and call it a weekend.
Bedford Springs Resort
Forget the Greenbrier, the Omni Bedford Springs Resort is every bit as historic. Having attracted guests for over 200 years--including 10 U.S. Presidents--thanks to its eight mineral springs, the Allegheny Mountain resort was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984. Following a three-year, $120-million restoration and expansion, the property returned to its original splendor and reopened its doors in 2007. Now under the management of luxury hotel group Omni, the hotel is the perfect weekend getaway for DC couples and families -- hit the 30,000 square foot Springs Eternal Spa, take a dip in the heated mineral pool or tee off at the property's Tillinghaust designed 18-hole gold course.
It might be another month until you can hit the Jersey Shore, but Atlantic City bustles all year long. After a short drive from DC, channel your inner Sinatra by hitting the casinos and shows at this iconic resort or satiate your inner gourmand at celebrated restaurants like Buddakan, Bobby Flay Steak or The Palm. Just remember to save some energy for the energetic clubs, which boogie down until the wee hours of the morning.
While there are plenty of cities and charming towns within driving distance of DC, few offer the escape of Annapolis. Known for the naval academy and its picturesque harbor, this historic town might feel frozen in time, but with pubs serving microbrews and indie rock (Rams Head Tavern), restaurants piling up steamed blue crabs and water taxis ready to zip you around the harbor, you're sure to enjoy an action-packed weekend, all under an hour's drive away.
Amish Country by Buggy
Given their work ethic, the Amish might not be the best example of taking it easy, but the horse-and-buggy set certainly know how to slow things down. Head up to Lancaster County, PA and tour the picturesque countryside just like the Amish…in the back of a horse-drawn buggy. Book a tour with Aaron and Jessica's Amish Buggy Rides and visit working farms, roadside stands and even dine with traditional families.
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