Safe to say, we all need a vacation (or at least a short escape) from our day-in and day-out routines. Whether it’s a day trip, overnight, long weekend or even a week-long vacation, here are three destinations less than 75 miles away that surely won’t disappoint. Because who really wants a long drive anyway?
My story and the inspiration for this article begins with my own trip to Boonsboro, Maryland, in April. Roughly 70 miles away from Severna Park, the town lies nestled at the foot of South Mountain in Washington County.
I read about Inn BoonsBoro in a travel article and was instantly intrigued by the fact that Nora Roberts, New York Times bestselling author and a longtime resident of nearby Keedysville, owned the inn with her husband, Bruce Wilder.
After researching, I learned from the website how each of the Inn BoonsBoro rooms “bear the names of literary lovers – who found their happy endings.” For starters, Elizabeth and Darcy from “Pride and Prejudice,” Marguerite and Percy from “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” Titania and Oberon from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Roberts’ own Eve and Roarke from her JD Robb “In Death” series. Each room reflects the style of the story’s era and book theme.
I highly recommend perusing the inn’s website (www.innboonsboro.com) to see the unique amenities that the beautiful historic boutique bed-and-breakfast has to offer. Luckily, my husband and I visited on a Sunday through Monday, so we were able to get the popular Jane and Rochester room from “Jane Eyre,” which we highly recommend with its king-sized wooden canopy bed, classic fainting couch, fireplace, copper tub and private entrance.
The inn — with the complimentary happy hour, breakfast and fitness center access to Fit In BoonsBoro — is worth the trip alone. But don’t just take it from me — you can check out the 185 five-star reviews on Tripadvisor for Inn BoonsBoro.
There are also many other delightful things to do while in town. For starters, wineries, like Big Cork Vineyards. This is where the wine comes from during the complimentary happy hours at the inn. Additionally, enjoy the charming shops such as Gifts Inn BoonsBoro, Josie’s On Main or Turn the Page Bookstore, which is operated by Wilder.
Dan’s Restaurant & Tap House was where my husband and I had dinner and returned for lunch the next day. While Dan’s was wonderful, we do wish Vesta Pizzeria & Family Restaurant wasn’t closed for renovations during our visit because I’d read good things. When we return, we’ll venture to other nearby towns of Shepherdstown or Hagerstown for additional shopping and eating options.
Other items on our to-do list upon another return? A visit to Antietam National Battlefield and hiking Washington Monument State Park.
Clocking in at the closest distance from Severna Park at 42 miles, Alexandria was named a Top Three Best Small City in the U.S. 2021 by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and one of the South’s Best Cities on the Rise 2022 by Southern Living.
“Historic Old Town Alexandria is an accessible and welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital,” said Rebecca Doser, communications manager at Visit Alexandria. “Just five miles from Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria, Virginia, is connected to D.C. by water taxi, Metrorail, electric bike and more, and boasts more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront.”
Basically, if you want to embrace your nautical side, there’s plenty to do including boat cruises, sailing, kayaking or paddleboarding. Take a riverside run or set sail with water taxis and river cruises by City Cruises anchored by Hornblower, offering scenic commutes between Alexandria and the National Mall, The Wharf, Georgetown, Nationals Park, George Washington’s Mount Vernon and National Harbor.
With its centuries-old architecture, brick-lined streets and cobblestone alleys, the King Street Mile is one of the “great streets” of America and the No. 1 thing to do in Alexandria. Speaking of architecture, the Spite House is the skinniest historic house in America at just seven feet wide. A private residence located at 523 Queen Street, Spite House was built out of spite in 1830 to keep loiterers out of the adjacent alley.
For someone looking for a reasonably priced hotel in Old Town where they can truly embrace the walkable city, they should look no further than:
During your stay, head to Ada’s on the River, a stunning waterfront restaurant in the Robinson Landing development that features wood-fried prime steaks, fresh seafood and vegetarian fare. Ada’s on the River pays homage to 19th-century female mathematician Ada Lovelace and offers brunch on the weekends and lunch and dinner service every day. Another popular option is Del Ray Café, a sophisticated yet casual French café serving local and organic products for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner every day.
St. Michaels, Maryland
Up next — St. Michaels, Maryland, a beautiful and quaint historic harbor town on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and only 56 miles away.
“St. Michaels is a beautiful historic waterfront town that has something for families, friends or a couple’s getaway,” said Kim Hannon, president of St. Michael’s Business Association. “Between our award-winning restaurants, unique boutiques and shops, getting out on the water for a boat or kayak ride, strolling along the harbor or visiting one of our museums, you can make the most of how you want to spend your time, be it relaxing, learning history or going out on an adventure!”
For some water-themed adventure, the Sail Selina II boat tours are the perfect match. Sail Selina II offers cruises all day for two hours starting at 10:00am and also a romantic sunset champagne cruise starting at 5:30pm. Excursions include a mini harbor tour and then a trip out onto the scenic Miles River. They also offer half-day and full-day private charters, sailing lessons, beer tasting and wine tasting tours.
When not traveling by boat, St. Michaels visitors can enjoy traveling by foot and walking along the harbor or side streets to see the historical homes or eclectic range of shops offering jewelry, clothing and home décor.
For museum lovers, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum comes highly recommended.
The Chesapeake Ghost Tour will be on my must-do when I visit. With thrilling experiences in Annapolis, Charleston and Savannah, I’ve never met a ghost tour I haven’t enjoyed.
When thirsty, visit the trifecta of Windon Distilling (Lyon Rum), Eastern Shore Brewing or St. Michaels Winery. Hungry? The Galley Restaurant and Carpenter Street Saloon are known for their amazing breakfasts and Bloody Marys. Popular lunch spots are Foxy's Harbor Grille, who has great views of the harbor and Ava's Pizzeria with great food and brick oven pizza. Popular dinner spots include Bistro St. Michaels, with its regional farm/bay-to-table concept, and Theo's Steaks, Sides and Spirits.
St. Michaels is easily accessible via walking from many places to stay. The Wildset is a gorgeous boutique hotel in town, Hambleton Inn is a beautifully renovated bed and breakfast spot on the water and St. Michaels Harbor Inn is also on the water with a pool and marina. Depending on the season, a two-night minimum may be required.
Whether you have an opportunity to vacate your life for a day trip, weekend or longer, I hope you have a chance to explore one or all of these charming cities.
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