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
I Am a RockAlcatraz Island lies out in the bay a mile and a half off the San Francisco shoreline. For many years, that was enough to keep prisoners like Al Capone on the rock and tourists off it. More than an infamous lockup, Alcatraz was also the first U.S. fort on the West Coast and the site of a 19-month occupation by Native Americans to reclaim disused federal land. Now you can buy a Property of Alcatraz T-shirt and take a selfie in Machine Gun Kelley’s cell. 960 1280
Torch of FreedomOnce upon a time, newcomers to America would huddle en masse under the gaze of the great green colossus on Liberty Island before entering the country. Times have changed, but the Statue of Liberty is still a go-to American symbol of freedom and inclusion. Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the lofty lady of the harbor since 1933. 960 1280
Port of EntryFrom 1892 to 1954, some 12 million immigrants set upon a path to citizenship that led them to Ellis Island in New York Harbor. The Great Hall remained largely vacant until 1990 when it was reopened to the public as the country’s largest museum devoted to our history as an immigrant nation. 960 1280
Our HouseYou don’t have to win 270 Electoral College votes to get into the White House, you just have to ask your Congressman for a pass. Free, self-guided tours of the East Wing run five days a week and include permanent exhibits and a short film. Requests must be submitted at least 21 days in advance and sorry, you can’t use the bowling alley. 960 1280
Steel Rainbow ConnectionLike a giant staple holding the country together at the Mississippi River, the St. Louis Gateway Arch is the nation’s tallest and most silvery monument and embodies Thomas Jefferson's vision of the westward expansion of the United States. Yes, you can go up in it. 960 1280
Kentucky UndergroundThe Bluegrass State is famous for its coal mines, but Mammoth Cave National Park takes subterranean pride to new depths. Located in the Green River Valley, Mammoth Cave is the world’s largest known cave system, with more than 400 miles of explored chambers and labyrinths. To paraphrase an early guide, it is a grand and gloomy grotto. 960 1280
Private IslandsHead 70 miles away from Key West by boat or seaplane and you’ll come upon Dry Tortugas National Park, a 100-square-mile paradise composed of seven small islands and the majestic 19th-century Fort Jefferson. Yes, this tropical paradise belongs to you. Even more majestic are the eerie blue waters and jutting coral reefs that make for ideal snorkeling territory. Above water, you can enjoy the innumerable species of birds that inhabit the park, as well as the turtles for which it is named. 960 1280
Take a BathIn the middle of Arkansas, the town of Hot Springs, well, sprang up around what is now Hot Springs National Park, an area known for thousands of years as the “Valley of the Vapors” for its medicinal steaming waters. Since 1921, it’s been a national park nicknamed "The American Spa.” Architecture buffs flock to Bathhouse Row to appreciate the collection of ornate, preserved bathhouses. 960 1280
Swamp PeopleAdmit it, you’ve always wanted to wear gumboots and race an airboat through the Florida Everglades National Park. Spend your days deep in sawgrass, clocking manatee, dolphin and alligators. Watch in awe as a giant heron struggles to take flight in a mangrove swamp. Or maybe you just want to hang out at the historic Nike Hercules missile base. Whatever you want to do, you can do it in the Everglades. 960 1280
Let's Go to the MallThe Great Emancipator sits in contemplation some 19 feet above you. It’s a sight every American should see in their lifetime. The Lincoln Memorial on the western end of the National Mall in Washington is, unsurprisingly, the most visited site in a space rich with monuments, museums and historical points of interest. It has also been the backdrop for historical events, most notably MLK’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech. For an added layer of historical context, visit the Memorial at night. 960 1280
American VirginNo one needs an excuse to visit the Virgin Islands, but if one did, one could do worse than the Virgin Islands National Park. Comprising roughly 60% of the island of St. John, plus another 5,650 acres of submerged territory, the park protects and preserves countless species of tropical and migratory birds, fish and other marine and plant life. Who needs a yacht when you’ve got leatherback turtles? 960 1280
11 Unusual National Parks and Monuments 11 Photos