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Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

Harlow, United...
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Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

We are a couple in our mid-fifties planning a 3-4 week trip to Washington DC and New York starting the last week of March 2013. Our main interests are museums, art galleries and hiking. We are quite fit and enjoy walks of 8-10 miles in a day. We are not interested in shopping or gourmet food but we do enjoy trying local dishes.

Our outline plan is to fly in Washington DC and spend up to a week seeing the sites there. We then plan to hire a car for about ten days to tour out of Washington and visit sites of historic interest especially relating to the Revolution and the Civil War. We prefer to be flexible and change itinerary at the last minute so we do not want to book hotels for the road trip part of our holiday. During spring will be ok just booking hotels the evening or even morning prior to arrival?

We would then drop the car back in Dc and travel to NYC by train, then spend up to a week in NYC again visiting places of interest.

I would really appreciate suggestions for historic locations to visit, Gettysburg is already ‘on the list’, and parks for hiking. We prefer to spend about 2-3 hours driving maximum between locations.

Do we need a hire car while in Washington DC? I’ve already seen in the forums that driving there is not exactly a pleasure (should I ask this question in the ‘DC’ forum?)

Atlanta, Georgia
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1. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

Antietam is another great Civil War Battlefield to visit. I would also suggest the Lancaster area and Amish country as well as Philadelphia.

If you want to venture south of the DC area then the Petersburg Battlefield as well as Richmond area is another area to visit in terms of Civil War history. Mt. Vernon and Williamsburg are also important in our nation's history.

As a history nut myself we have visited all these areas and found more than enough to do in 2 weeks. In fact we spent 2 weeks touring just DC, Richmond, Williamburg and Mt. Vernon. You could easily spend another 2 weeks touring Gettysburg, Amish country, Philadelphia and NYC.

The Metro in DC is a great way to get around the town and if you stay in town then do not need a car imo.

Good luck!!

Chula Vista...
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2. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

Hi and welcome to the forum!

PeachBelle has some good suggestions. Around Williamsburg, there's also Jamestown (first English settlement in 1609) and Yorktown (Revolutionary War battle).



You can also travel south from there into North Carolina's Outer Banks and see where the Wright Brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk:


If you take the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to the DELMARVA (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) peninsula, you could check out Assateague Island and all that the eastern Chesapeake has to offer:



You could continue into Annapolis, Maryland's capital, with its quaint city center and the US Naval Academy:


Baltimore with its inner harbor and Fort McHenry (where Francis Scott Key wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" during the War of 1812) is an interesting stop:



You've already mentioned Gettysburg, but nearby is the Amish country of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania:



If you head generally west from DC, you should stop to see Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello, in Charlottesville:


And not far away is Appomattox Court House, where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to end the Civil War.


As we're in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, there are many other parks and attractions that you can see:


Further west are the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Great Smokey Mountains (where you can hike part of the Appalachian Trail):




I hope that gives you a starting point to get into some more detailed planning. Enjoy!

staten island
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3. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

Also, about 2&1/2 hours east of Gettysburg is the Brandywine Valley- http://www.thebrandywine.com/

If your a Wyeth fan- thebrandywine.com/attractions/rivermus.html

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4. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

I don't think you need a car in DC. Places you should not miss outside of DC include:

- Gettysburg (allow a whole day; the entire battle ground is preserved.

- Mt. Vernon

- Navel Academy

- Ft. McHenry

- Jamestown

- Williamsburg (though a bit too commercial)

- Monticello

- Charlottsville

- Appomattix

- Cumberland gap

There are many others; above is just my own favorites.

Appomattix is in the middle of nowhere and out of the way of everything else. But glad I did it. The town is darn near the same as it was when Lee surrendered. It was one of the highlights of our trip in the late 90s.

New York NY
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5. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

I generally get my cars from Hertz, Budget and Alamo / National. Avis and Budget are really the same company and Alamo and National are also the same company but you find different rates and different charges for things like the insurance.

I do not own a car so I need the insurance (I don't want to hope the credit card will cover me)

I find that the fees for picking up at an airport raise the total cost considerably. I often find the best deals at local locations. There are plenty of local locations accessible from the Washington DC Metro as it goes well out into Virginia and into Maryland.

It may be worth pricing this for a pick-up in the Washington D.C. Metro Area and returning the car in the New York City area. It seems silly to get all the way up into Pennsylvania and then drive back to D.C. to take the train to New York when you'll have already been half way to New York City.

If you can get a good price for pick-up in the Washington area and you don't want to drive into Manhattan (although you shouldn't have any fear), there are plenty of locations just outside the city such as Newark Airport and Jersey City and Hoboken - all easily accessible to Manhattan on public transport.

Manassas Virginia is very nice. The Air & Space (Udvar Hazy) out near Dulles Airport is worthwhile. There are wineries out in Loudon County VA (Leesburg area) - very nice. Pennsylvania has a lot of beautiful converted rail trains that are now hiking and biking trails. Pennsylvania has done this better than anywhere else in America, in my opinion. Beautiful paths to hike and bike throughout the state. Lots in the King of Prussia area and Montgomery County PA - lots more out near Cumberland Maryland. All over the state.

As long as you're not fussy about wanting to stay in a fancy hotel, I'm very happy with Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott and I find that I get more economical rates booking day of than in advance. Rates seem to come down rather than go up. Having an automobile association membership like the American Automobile Association (AAA) may be very worthwhile - it often gets me big discounts on the car rentals and hotels.

Do either of you have smartphones / iPads? Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, etc. all have great mobile sites. We simply pull up marriott.com, hilton.com and hyatt.com and choose places as we're going. We like Marriott best for their broad coverage. We like Hyatt Place best for their really good / higher quality free breakfast. We like Hampton Inn (part of Hilton) as well.

Harlow, United...
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6. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

Thankyou everyone for such detailed and terrific advice and suggestions. The links to websites are also very much appreciated.

I shall get to work on our itinerary, looking forward to our holiday even more now.

Thnaks Again,


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7. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

I would also consider looking at the Hagerstown, MD area-you can visit Harper's Ferry, Antietam & also the excellent National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Fredericksburg. Driving from here to Gettysburg is beautiful, especially if you go through Catoctin Mountain Park (where Camp David is located), which has some nice hiking trails.

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8. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

Jamestown is well worth seeing. Don't be misled by the Disney-esque recreation called "Jamestown Settlement". You want the real thing - Historic Jamestown.

I agree no car needed in DC. We used the hop on / hop off trolley tour and it was quite good with excellent narration:


9. Re: Road trip around Washington DC Spring 2013

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