Wondering what to do with that extra day on Memorial Day weekend? A local travel writer offers recommendations for partying in the DC area.
Wondering what to do with that extra day on Memorial Day weekend? Well, the metropolitan area is home to many outdoor attractions that are perfect for celebrating the weekend.
Erin Gifford, a freelance travel writer who has written three guidebooks for hiking in Virginia and the surrounding metropolitan area, has recommended some favorite hiking spots that vary in difficulty and drive times.
“I’m always looking for interesting outings,” Gifford said. “It should be a good distance, not too long, maybe two or three miles, and always have some kind of attractive feature.”
With all of these factors in mind, Gifford scheduled four different day trips for Memorial Day weekend.
To take an intense walk early in the morning
Gifford said Shenandoah National Park is worth the nearly two-hour drive.
“There really is something for everyone,” she said. She recommends Old Rag, Nicholson Hollow Trail to Corbin Cabin or White Oak Canyon.
“I think a few people realize that there are actually 500 miles of hiking trails that criss-cross Shenandoah National Park, including over 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which is pretty amazing. That in itself, being able to do that,” Gifford said. To walk the Appalachian Trail, it’s so much fun.”
There are over 30 walks along Skyline Drive alone that will meet everyone’s fitness level. [and] interest level.
If you want to check out the beautiful scenery in Shenandoah, Gifford recommends getting up early and getting to the park before 9 a.m. to ensure you can secure a parking spot at one of Skyline Drive’s little spots.
When you’re done with one of these early excursions, you can swing by Etlan, a small community nearby, to grab a barbecue or ice cream at The Little Country Story, and even sip some wine at DuCard Vineyards, she said. Gifford also recommends checking out Sperryville’s breweries and coffee shops on your way to a hike or on the way home.
Family-friendly nature trails and museums
If you’re looking for some easier trails with attractions that will be fun for your whole family, Gifford recommends Colonial Beach, Virginia, about an hour and 40 minutes from DC.
“I think a lot of people don’t really realize that[Colonial Beach]exists,” Gifford said.
Most people come to Colonial Beach for George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, which includes a museum, gardens, the Junior Ranger Program, and of course, some easy nature trails on the Potomac River.
Gifford also visited a colorful local place called the Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar last year and highly recommends the riverside spot.
“You can order fun drinks,” she said, “all of the picnic tables are really colorful and it’s a great place to go.” “Whether you’re with a couple of friends or with your kids, it’s a really fun place to be.”
And if you have more time, drive 15 minutes out of the way to check out Montross, a mural-filled town with some worthwhile stops like The Art of Coffee, a café and art gallery, and Montross Brewery & Beer Garden.
Gifford’s recommended second day trip in VA is Winchester, which is 90 minutes from the city. The trip specifically centers around a visit to the Shenandoah Valley Museum. The museum includes a wonderful art park with numerous art installations, including sculptures and landscape formations, along 3 miles of hiking trails.
The museum is already a great destination for kids and is also opening a new Nature Connects outdoor exhibit on May 27 that features LEGOS.
“Everyone loves LEGO. So it’s great to see the butterflies and gardens all made out of LEGO bricks,” Gifford said.
Winchester offers plenty of other attractions, including the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum for young children, the Pedestrian Center in Old Town Winchester, and the Shenandoah Valley Civil War Museum.
Walking on the beach and digging up fossils
The final hiking trails Gifford recommends is getting out in Losby, Maryland, where Calvert Cliff State Park features some trails and a fossil beach. When you’re done digging for fossils, there are many other beaches on the Chesapeake Bay to check out, in addition to the Cove Point Lighthouse and the Calvert Maritime Museum.
If you’re looking for more art on this Maryland stop, the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center is located in nearby Solomons. The Arts Center features a sculpture walk and indoor art galleries.
Afterwards, you can spend the day at the nearby Cove Point Winery.
Gifford said her biggest motivation for crafting a fun outing is to keep the people she’s hiking with entertained.
“At the end of a hike, I always want the people who are with me to want to take another hike,” Gifford said.
So head out with some of your friends and family to enjoy the last days of spring on Memorial Day. Also, don’t forget to listen to WTOP for traffic updates to avoid any delays.
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