20 things to do near Washington D.C.

Family TravelNorth AmericaWashington DC

There’s so much to see and do in our nation’s capital it’s really easy to forget the sights and attractions just outside the city. You can stay in Washington, D.C., and then take a day traveling to a few of these places and still be back in time to get a good night’s rest in your hotel room so you’re ready for your adventures the next day.

Here’s your guide of 20 places to visit within one hour of Washington, D.C.:

1. Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, Virginia
2.9 miles from Washington, D.C.

This 624 acres worth of cemetery is a place to remember and pay tribute to soldiers who have fallen on duty. Explore through other parts of the cemetery to find and see the various monuments and memorials, as well as a chance to see the Changing of the Guard ritual at the Arlington National Cemetery.


2. U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Arlington, Virginia
4.2 miles from Washington, D.C.

A statue of six soldiers putting up the U.S. flag, depicting a prominent moment from World War II, stands in honor of all U.S. marines who have fought and given their lives to their country. The U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, is located nearby the Arlington National Cemetery so you can admire and pay your compliments to the two without traveling too far.

An insider’s guide to Washington D.C.’s hidden gems Let's go


3. National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial

Arlington, Virginia
4.4 miles from Washington, D.C.

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial was built to remember those men, women and children who passed away on Flight 77 when it crashed into the Pentagon. To honor those who fell, 184 steel and granite benches were made and placed on the west side of the Pentagon for people to come and view and pay their respects to.


4. DEA Museum & Visitors Center

Arlington, Virginia
5.1  miles from Washington, D.C.

Visitors aren’t openly welcomed to tour FBI or CIA headquarters, but you can stop by for free between Tuesday and Friday to tour the DEA Museum & Visitors Center. Through tour guides, videos and exhibits, you learn just what the Drug Enforcement Administration does and about the impact of drug addiction.


5. Netherlands Carillon

Arlington, Virginia
4.0 miles from Washington, D.C.

The Netherlands Carillon is symbolic of the friendship between the Netherlands and the United States. The U.S. received this gift after aiding the Dutch people during WWII, and today many visit it to listen to the music of the 50 bells hanging in the tower, take in the views of Washington, D.C., and sit in peace while being surrounded by blooming flowers.


6. Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail

Arlington, Virginia
4.6 miles from Washington, D.C.

The trail network making up the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail follows paths explored by former President George Washington. It’s a great outdoor activity allowing you to walk, run or bike these trails, as well as take them by boat or horse.


7. George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Alexandria, Virginia
18.0 miles from Washington, D.C.

American history lovers or just those who admired George Washington should travel to Mount Vernon where George and Martha lived. Guests get to visit the Mansion and Washington’s Tomb and feel what it was like to spend the day on about 50 acres of his stunning plantation.


8. George Washington Masonic National Memorial

Alexandria, Virginia
9.4 miles from Washington, D.C.

On any of the seven days of the week, you can see this tourist attraction, which is also a library, research center, performing arts center, concert hall and meeting site. The George Washington Masonic National Memorial stands open to the public thanks to generous contributions from Freemasons and a few other donors.


9. Torpedo Factory Art Center

Torpedo Art Factory Center

Alexandria, Virginia
8.7 miles from Washington, D.C.

Located on the waterfront of the Potomac River is a former torpedo factory (hence the cool name) that’s been turned into an art center. Torpedo Factory Art Center is three floors of open galleries and studios filled with beautiful original artwork by various artists.

54 blockbuster movies filmed in Washington D.C. Can you name 5?


10. Great Falls Park


McLean, Virginia
16.5 miles from Washington, D.C.

A chance to be outdoors enjoying nature and history all in one place is at Great Falls Park. This 800 acres worth of gorgeous, clean park is in northern Fairfax County with plenty to do and explore, including hiking along Mather Gorge’s cliff tops.


11. National Colonial Farm

Accokeek, Maryland
23.9 miles from Washington, D.C.

At National Colonial Farm visitors can hike through winding trails, see Mount Vernon off a boat dock and travel to there by passenger boat. Bring good walking shoes and your camera to fully enjoy this farm any time during the year.


12. U.S. Naval Academy

Annapolis, Maryland
32.1 miles from Washington, D.C.

See what the Yard is all about on a guided walking tour of the U.S. Naval Academy. The public guided walking tours are offered year round, with times varying depending on day of the week and month. You might get to see the noon formation if touring then and partake in tax-free shopping if you do the tour, dine at Drydock and shop in their gif shop.


13. Annapolis Maritime Museum

Annapolis, Maryland
33.3 miles from Washington, D.C.

If you can’t take the smell of anything fishy, the Annapolis Maritime Museum isn’t for you. Those who welcome seafood can learn all about oysters, try out oyster tonging and fish from their dock and pier.


14. National Harbor

Fort Washington, Maryland
11.7 miles from Washington, D.C.

National Harbor is a place to shop, dine and have a total waterfront experience. There are always events happening or you can get involved with the many shops and restaurants and then end your night on a bench overlooking the waterfront with its pretty views.


15. Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park

Leesburg, Virginia
42.4 miles from Washington, D.C.

At Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park visitors can learn about this early Civil War battle, see the cemetery that sits in the center of the 223-acre park or venture along some of their hiking trails.

5 locals you must meet on every trip Get the inside scoop


16. Oatlands Historic House and Gardens

Leesburg, Virginia
44.2 miles from Washington, D.C.

Established back in the early 19th century, Oatlands Historic House and Gardens is an elegant mansion, colorful gardens and rolling farmland. This area is full of nearly 200 years worth of American culture and history and has different activities available every season of the year.

17. Inner Harbor

Baltimore, Maryland
39.3 miles from Washington, D.C.

Inner Harbor has been a seaport since the 1700s and stands as a city landmark and the center of tourism for Baltimore today. Tourists shop, eat and visit other attractions, like the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center, while visiting this famous eastern spot.

Make the most of your Inner Harbor visit at Crowne Plaza Baltimore - Inner Harbor

18. Fort McHenry

Baltimore, Maryland
39.6 miles from Washington, D.C.

This fort, shaped like a star, is an American national monument and historic shrine. The defense of Fort McHenry back in the 1800s during the Battle of Baltimore helped inspire Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner”.


19. Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

Baltimore, Maryland
38.2 miles from Washington, D.C.

Baseball fans know this name well, as George Herman “Babe” Ruth was a baseball player and America’s very first sports celebrity. At the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, guests can see and hear about the life and baseball career of this Baltimore native.


20. Edgar Allan Poe’s Grave

Baltimore, Maryland
38.1 miles from Washington, D.C.

Edgar Allan Poe had a very unique way with words, which earned him the nickname of “America’s Shakespeare”. He wrote various types of short stories, lyric poetry and darker horror stories. His literature is still read today, so anyone who’s a fan can take the short drive from Washington, D.C. to visit Edgar Allan Poe’s grave.

Washington, D.C., keeps tourists busy with all its governmental and historical sites, but make the time to venture outside the city to see what other historical, cultural and fun attractions are nearby. It’ll make your trip to the capital an even better experience.

Search IHG Hotels