Capital Region USA: Can’t-miss Experiences in Maryland and Virginia
Here are 8 attractions and destinations beyond the capital city to add to any Washington, D.C., visit.
Made up of U.S. capital city Washington, D.C., and the states of Virginia and Maryland, Capital Region USA offers visitors a unique blend of bustling cities and entertainment districts, rich cultural activities and only-in-the-USA historic sites. Once you’ve explored the museums and monuments of the National Mall, venture beyond D.C. to discover the entertainment, history and luxury on offer in Maryland and Virginia.
Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor is considered the heart of Baltimore. This lively area located on the waterfront is filled with shops, restaurants and world-class museums. Spend some time at the National Aquarium, where you’ll see more than 17,000 sea creatures in naturalistic exhibits, or visit the Maryland Science Center, where you can explore numerous hands-on activities. See historic ships docked in the harbor – the ISCGC Taney, the last fighting ship from Pearl Harbor; the USS Torsk, the last ship to sink an enemy vessel in World War II; and the USS Constellation, the only Civil War-era ship still afloat. Check out Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum where you’ll find shrunken heads, the Fiji island mermaid as well as tons of other unexpected exhibits and hands-on activities. Visitors can also take a narrated boat tour of the Inner Harbor to learn more about it.
The sun setting on the Baltimore Inner Harbor
History buffs and nature lovers will want to take some time out to visit America’s Historic Triangle: Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. The Colonial Parkway is a scenic 37-kilometer route that connects the three together and offers a scenic route for travelers. Start off in Jamestown, the home to the ruins of the first permanent English settlement in North America. Here you will find artifacts in a living history museum that recreates a 1610 fort and a Powhatan Indian Village. Drive along the route to Williamsburg next. It became the capitol of Virginia Colony after Jamestown was burned down during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 and again in 1698. You’ll explore a historic colonial district and living history museum where actors in period costumes depict colonial life in the street, workshops and stores, including more than 40 sites and trade demonstrations, four historic taverns and two museums. Your last stop is Yorktown, a famous battle site where George Washington and 17,000 troops attacked the English army led by General Lord Charles Cornwallis. Considered one of the most important battles of the Revolutionary War, it led to the surrender of Cornwallis and an end to the War. Here you can visit the Yorktown Battlefield and the American Revolutionary Museum.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Once the home and estate of George Washington, the first president of the USA, Mount Vernon is one of Virginia’s most popular historic attractions. There’s plenty to see here including the main mansion, a 21-room residence that has been restored to its 1799 appearance; the gardens, where Washington oversaw all aspects of the landscape; the Distillery & Gristmill, fully functioning reconstructions where Washington produced flour, cornmeal and whiskey; the 4-D Revolutionary War Theater, that highlights Washington’s role in the war complete with snow, fog, cannon fire and other 4D effects; the Pioneer farm, more than 1,214 hectares of land that Washington cultivated as well as replicas of his 16-sided treading barn and slave cabin; the museum, where you can view more than 700 personal objects in 23 galleries; and the tombs where George and Martha Washington are laid to rest.
The mansion at George Washington's Mount Vernon
Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park
The Underground Railroad is an intricate network of safe houses and secret routes, which were used during the early-to-mid 19th century by African American slaves to escape into freedom. Located in Maryland, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park is a historical park dedicated to preserve the landscapes Tubman used to carry herself and others away from slavery. Tubman is the Underground Railroad’s most widely known icon as she repeatedly risked her own life to save the lives of more than 70 people from a life of enslavement. Start your journey at the visitor center where you will see exhibits and a film. Then take the scenic byway where you will see the Brodess farm, where Tubman grew up; the Bucktown Village Store, where Tubman defied a slave owner and refused to help tie up a runaway slave; and Choptank Landing, where Tubman made some of her most daring rescues.
With 230 kilometers of coastline, Norfolk offers a fun and vibrant waterfront scene as well as delicious fresh seafood. Hop aboard the Spirit of Norfolk to take a historic tour with incredible views of Norfolk Harbor, including the world’s largest naval station, while you eat a delicious meal. Go kayaking, swimming, sailing, fishing, harbor cruising or even crabbing along the Norfolk shores. Stop by the Chrysler Museum of Art to enjoy an extensive collection that includes glass, European, American, Modern art, ancient exhibits, photography, contemporary and decorative arts. History buffs will want to explore the decks of the Battleship Wisconsin when they visit Nauticus, a contemporary museum that showcases global maritime commerce. There’s so much to do in Norfolk; you won’t ever get bored.
The Macarthur Memorial Museum lit up at night in Norfolk
Old Town Alexandria
OId Town in Alexandria, Virginia has the colonial charm of the past with the upscale restaurants, boutiques, galleries, theaters and street art of the present. Located just minutes from Washington, D.C., on the Potomac River, it is a nationally designated historic district that George Washington once called home. Take in a gourmet meal on the marina, go shopping on cobblestone King Street, take an informative and entertaining boat tour, or even rent a bike and cruise through the George Washington Parkway to Mount Vernon. While here, plan a visit to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum – two buildings built in 1770 that were once the center of political, business and social life in Alexandria. Go on a tour of the museum and have a bite to eat at the delectable restaurant.
Salamander Resort & Spa
Go horseback riding, enjoy a taste of the wine culture or stay awhile at Salamander Resort & Spa in historic Middleburg, Virginia. Set on 138 hectares at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this resort features 168 guest rooms (17 of which are suites), a spa, full-service Equestrian Center and the rustic Harrimans Virginia Piedmont Grill. Middleburg is a historic place known as the “Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capitol” where visitors have participated in foxhunting and steeple chasing since the early 1900s. It was also the site of two historic skirmishes during the Gettysburg Campaign of the Civil War. Stay at the Salamander while you immerse yourself in the area’s colonial history. Other activities at the resort include zip lining, tennis, nature hikes, archery and swimming.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello
Monticello is the former home of Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the USA and author of the Declaration of Independence. Located on top of a beautiful hill in Charlottesville, Virginia, the house and gardens of Monticello are rich in history and masterpieces in design. A World Heritage Site, Monticello is considered a national treasure and offers insights into the mind of Thomas Jefferson.
Tour the mansion and see the house designed and lived in by Jefferson and his family; explore the vegetable and fruit gardens, where Jefferson experimented with a variety of growing methods and cross-pollination; and visit the famous flower gardens, where Jefferson spent most of his time planting and writing his garden book.