National Park Sites Near Washington-Baltimore
Did you know the president of the United States lives in a national park? Discover these national park sites near DC and Baltimore -- all great day trip ideas that are sure to captivate and surprise.
Ford's TheatreFive days after the Civil War ended, Abraham Lincoln arrived at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, to see an evening performance of a popular play. In the third act, John Wilkes Booth entered the president’s box and shot him in the back of the head. Today, see the restored theatre -- and hear a recounting of that fateful night -- by a National Park Service ranger.
Location: Washington, DC 960 1280
George Washington Memorial ParkwayThe DC area isn’t exactly known for recreational driving; the GW Parkway is the exception. From north to south (and vice versa), the parkway offers a scenic, nearly 40-mile drive alongside the nation’s capital. Enjoy the view of woods and forests, the same land that George Washington would have traveled on horseback.
Locations: Virginia, Washington, DC 960 1280
Frederick Douglass HouseBorn into slavery, Frederick Douglass went on to become the most influential abolitionist of his day. In 1877, with years of public service behind him, Douglass settled into this home in the Washington, DC, area of Anacostia. Douglass lived in the hilltop home, which he called Cedar Hill, until his death in 1895.
Location: Washington, DC 960 1280
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical ParkFor nearly 100 years, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal carried resources such as coal and wood to communities along the Potomac River – including Georgetown in Washington, DC. Today, enjoy a canal boat ride. Also hike, camp, kayak, bicycle and canoe in the surrounding national historical park, which spans nearly 185 miles.
Location: Washington, DC, into Maryland and West Virginia 960 1280
Harpers FerryThe town of Harpers Ferry is located at the intersection of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. But what really put the town on the map was John Brown’s raid: In 1859, the fervent abolitionist led a group of 21 men in a raid upon a weapons arsenal. See where the 36-hour raid began and ended, with Brown’s capture at the armory fire engine house.
Location: 50 miles from DC, 80 miles from Baltimore 960 1280
Hampton National Historic SiteFor 7 generations, the Ridgley family called this Georgian mansion home. Today, visitors can tour the 62-acre estate, located north of Baltimore, to see one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in America. Equally captivating is a tour of the slave quarters; Hampton was one of Maryland’s largest slave-holding estates.
Location: Baltimore County, MD 960 1280
Antietam National BattlefieldThe bloodiest 1-day battle in US history happened in Sharpsburg, MD, in 1862 when Union forces began a 12-hour artillery bombardment of Confederate positions. For a time, a small number of Confederate soldiers held their ground on this bridge, far past the predictions of Union General Ambrose Burnside (for whom this bridge would later be named).
Location: 65 miles from Baltimore, 70 miles from DC 960 1280
Captain John Smith Historic TrailGlide along the waterways of the Chesapeake Bay, the nation's largest estuary, just as English explorer John Smith did between 1607 and 1609. The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail extends 3,000 miles along the bay and its tributaries in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC.
Location: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia & DC 960 1280
Oxon Hill FarmExperience farm life at Oxon Cove Park and Oxon Hill Farm. The 289 acres, located in Prince George’s County, MD, include a barn, stable, feed building and livestock buildings for cows, horses and chickens. The farm’s centerpiece is Mount Welby, a 2-story brick structure built in the early 1800s by Irish immigrant Dr. Samuel DeButts. The farm was entrusted to the National Park Service in 1959.
Location: Less than 1 hour from DC, 1 hour from Baltimore 960 1280
Old Stone HouseThis house has been standing longer than America's been a country. Built in 1765, this 3-story home was constructed in several phases during the 18th century. Today, the home, which belonged for a time to an upper-middle-class family, endures in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood as the oldest unchanged building in the nation’s capital.
Location: M Street in DC's Georgetown neighborhood 960 1280
Baltimore National Heritage AreaAs the name implies, Baltimore National Heritage Area is rich in history. Encompassing the Baltimore area, NHA attractions include the star-shaped Fort McHenry (pictured here), best-known for its role in the War of 1812, as well as Baltimore’s oldest neighborhoods such as Federal Hill, Fell’s Point and Mount Vernon (to the north of downtown Baltimore).
Location: An hour's drive from DC 960 1280
Who knew? The president of the United States lives in a national park. Every president since John Adams has called the White House home. The 6-story, 132-room home, in the style of an Irish country manor, is part of the 18-acre grounds we know as President’s Park. Want to tour the White House? Make your request to your member of Congress 6 months in advance.
Location: View of Truman Balcony and Ellipse from Constitution Avenue960 1280
Kenilworth Park and Aquatic GardensDiscover nature in the heart of the city. Encompassing 700 acres, Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is located in the northeastern corner of Washington, DC, and the Maryland state border. Its position by the Anacostia River provides fertile ground for a variety of flora and fauna, as well as ponds topped with water lilies and lotus flowers. The park also contains DC's only remaining tidal marsh.
Location: Northeastern corner of Washington, DC 960 1280
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic TrailPay a visit to Dumbarton House, a Federal-style house in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood. The home, which was completed around 1800, is part of the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail. The 290-mile route connects key sites and players in the Chesapeake Campaign of the War of 1812, including forts, battlefields and nature preserves.
Location: Visit any of 60 Chesapeake Bay Gateway along the trail 960 1280
Clara Barton HouseAmerica’s most famous nurse lived here. The Clara Barton House in Glen Echo, MD, is where American humanitarian and Red Cross founder Clara Barton lived the last 15 years of her life. The large wood-frame house sits on 9 acres, and includes more than 35 rooms; it also served as the early headquarters of the American Red Cross.
Location: 2 miles northwest of Washington, DC 960 1280
Paddle the Pacific
Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, just off the coast of Los Angeles, is home to some of the best kayaking on the West Coast. Rich with marine life and boasting the much-photographed Arch Rock, Anacapa is the perfect day trip or overnighter for the city dweller looking to get into some rough water. It’s a cliff island, so beware of winds, currents and fog.
Float the BorderThe mighty Rio Grande runs through Big Bend National Park in Texas, but it also represents the border between the U.S. and Mexico. Rafting down the river not only takes you through some eye-widening scenery, like 1500-foot deep canyons, but will also toss you back and forth across the border. 960 1280
Hit the Sandy Slopes
Colorado has Aspen, one of the most famous skiing destinations on the planet. It also has Sand Dunes National Park, one of the only sandboarding and sandsledding destinations on the planet. Slalom down the granular slopes like some diabolical combination of Jean-Claude Killy and Lawrence of Arabia. Hit the dunes early in the morning or late in the evening, lest you roast in the 150° midday heat. And don’t forget the lip balm.
Cold StorageThe upper regions of Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park have over 35 square miles of permanent ice and snow, providing a year-round paradise for hearty souls who consider ice camping a pleasure. If you’re going to stay the night on the mountain, securely lock your vittles to keep them from the clutches of foxes and other aggressive winter wildlife. 960 1280
Take in the LightsMinnesota's Voyageurs National Park sits just below the Canadian border and offers campers a ringside seat to the Northern Lights. Voyageurs encompasses 270 campsites only accessible by watercraft, but we recommend the remote Echo Lake Campground for best visibility. Check a variety of weather services to determine your best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. 960 1280
Yosemite GlidingIt may seem crazy, but people have been leaping off Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park for decades. Hang gliding was once sanctioned and overseen by park employees. These days the private Yosemite Hang Gliding Association coordinates it. 960 1280
The RaftersIf a weekend of seething whitewater just doesn’t cut it anymore, try an eight-day Grand Canyon raft trip down the Colorado River. There are a host of operators who will happily guide you down 200 miles of rapids. By the end of it, you’ll have seen Native-American ruins, mile-high cliff walls and countless eagles. 960 1280
Hit the Heights
Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park boasts rock formations that will set a climber’s mouth to watering. The 415-square-mile park is a full-service climbing destination, featuring opportunities for scaling rock, wall, ice and snow. Lumpy Ridge and Longs Peak are favorites of local and international climbers. Whether you are an experienced sport climber or a beginning boulderer, be safe and leave no trace of your visit.
Lost in AmericaIt makes sense that America’s largest national park is in Alaska, its largest state. Wrangell-Saint Elias stretches across 13,200,000 acres. You could fit Yellowstone, Everglades, and Death Valley inside it, and still have room for Denali, the third largest park (also in Alaska) at 6,075,030 acres. 960 1280
Take Me to the RiverIn addition to being the most popular hike in Zion National Park, the Narrows has something for every ability level over its 16 miles. The trail follows the Virgin River, which is convenient during the summer months, since you’ll be at least ankle-deep most of the time. If it starts to rain, head for high ground; flash floods are common and have a tendency to drop by without calling first. 960 1280
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