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Summer is winding down and while you may still have a bit of wanderlust, you may not have the cash or the vacation days off to fulfill your fantasies. Take advantage of the rare DC summer weather occurrence happening right now: perfect low 80s temps, rare rain, no longer brutally hot. Give your AC bill a break and head outside. Here are four suggestions for quick day trips you can do on a weekend day (or use a sick day) that are all less than a 2-hour drive from DC (not always counting traffic) and give you summer vacation vibes without draining your bank account.

Sandy Point Park Beach

If you want to soak up the sun and hit the beach without having to cross the Bay Bridge, get on route 50 and enjoy this state park with its own sandy beach and the warmer, calmer waters of the Bay. Admission is a dirt (or sand) cheap $5 for Maryland residents and $7 for non-residents per car (until September 30, after that it goes down to $3). The beach is clean and the water is perfect for showing off your swan-shaped floaty on Instagram. Bring a picnic and enjoy it at their beach adjacent picnic tables or if you want to indulge in some vacation-esque gluttony, go to nearby BBQ joint Red Hot and Blue or hit up nearby Annapolis and stop by Kilwins for some salt water taffy, fudge, or ice cream.

Unfortunately, four-legged friends aren’t allowed on Sandy Point Beach until October. If you want to have a beach trip with your pup, go to nearby Quiet Waters Dog Beach where you and your pup can swim in the Bay. Just put a towel down before you sit in the sand… it is a beach for dogs after all.

Harper’s Ferry Tubing

For lazy river or adventure junkies, there are tubing options for all, just a drive away from DC. Yes, the Potomac River may not be as much of an adrenaline rush as the Colorado, but it’s still a lot of fun for a lot less money (and no altitude sickness). There are a ton of options for tubing companies–some that also offer rafting, some that also have a zip line , and some offering great deals on Living Social (this one had transportation from DC, a brewery tour, and a BBQ lunch) and Groupon. If you haven’t gotten enough thrills on the water, you’re also a quick trip to Hollywood Casino if you want to burn the money you’ve saved on poker.


Frederick, Maryland

The ‘burbs may get a bad rap, but Frederick has some really fantastic foodie gems and a really fun minor league baseball team. There are many great little dining spots in downtown Frederick, but if you want to impress your Top Chef-loving friends, hit up either Brian Voltaggio restaurant in the area– the fancy Volt has one of the best brunches in the DMV area (I dream about that bread basket) for $35 for three courses or if you want to go for a bit more modest prices and homey, yet delicious food check out the upscale diner Family Meal. After all that reality TV approved gluttony, why be athletic now (though you could hike Sugarloaf Mountain on your way home) when you could kick back and drink a cheap beer and enjoy some quality minor league baseball at a Frederick Keys game. They’re the Baltimore Orioles affiliate and tickets and parking are a hell of a lot cheaper than heading to Baltimore.

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St Michael’s, Maryland

While this trip does involve the time and expense of crossing the Bay Bridge, it’s worth the extra drive. Enjoy this quaint Bay side town by sailboat or feel downright nautical at the surprisingly enjoyable and Instagramable Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum where you can chill on a lighthouse or take a quickie boat cruise. They also have fun festivals and events multiple times a month. Cap off your jaunt with a great meal, at either the classic waterfront seafood spot The Crab Claw or the really stellar pizza and wine bar Ava’s (get the Onion Tart or the Chef’s Favorite–you’re welcome). There’s also a great outlet mall on the drive home if you want some vacation impulse buys.


Feature photo by Gijs Coolen on Unsplash