Five Weekend Trips for DMV Residents on a budget

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I love to travel! Time, budget, and my infant don’t always make room for jet-setting, but all isn’t lost. The advantage of living in Maryland is its close proximity to some pretty great places. This summer, why not explore a few of these. Here are a few of my favorites:

5. New York City, New York

Why I love it: Call me biased since this is where I spent the first 10 years of life. It’s also where my husband proposed! Outside of my personal memories, there is a lot of history and culture there for every budget.

Getting here: Gas and tolls are pricey for a round trip, but that isn’t your only option. If you don’t mind taking a bus, I’d suggest Megabus. Their buses leave from White Marsh (near IKEA) and Union Station in D.C. Rates are very reasonable, varying by time of departure and time of booking. By taking a bus, you also avoid hefty parking fees.

Getting around: Even if you drive, try to take public transit as much as possible. First off, it’s an experience in itself. Next, you’ll avoid the craziness that is NY driving and finding parking. Also, the city is pretty walkable…so those two feet are a great way to get from point A to B.

What to do: Who honestly has no idea of what to do in NY? See a show for cheap. Get a slice of pizza from an Italian pizzeria (yes, it makes a difference). Go for a walk through Central Park. Go shopping. Visit the Top of the Rock. Visit a museum. Go visit Harlem. Please visit Harlem. It’s super nostalgic for me, but there is much to learn from those streets. It’s very tourist friendly, too.

Where to stay: If you’re gung-ho for driving to NY, stay across the border in NJ. Hotels are often cheaper and more spacious with amenities like free parking and free breakfast. If you are taking a bus, use Priceline, Hotels.com, Hotwire.com etc. You know I love doing the mystery deals. I’ve never gotten a bad hotel going that way. Just be very specific about the star rating, amenities etc. you want. It’ll give you the best options.

4. Virginia Beach/Hampton, VA

Virginia_Beach_Boardwalk

Why I love it: It’s the beach! There really isn’t any other reason needed.

Getting here: Driving isn’t bad at all. Our car can get down there on very little gas. It’s about 4 hours from Baltimore and 3.5 hours from the DMV area. However, you still have the Megabus option to VA Beach.

Getting around: Since driving is the best option of getting down there, that’s how you should get around. Actually, you will probably need a car of some sort if you want flexibility.

What to do: The beaches (obviously)! A lot of people know about Virginia Beach, but there is also the lesser known Buckroe Beach in Hampton. There’s also a really cool park called Mount Trashmore (please click the link to learn more about this awesome park).  If you like taking HBCU tours, there’s Hampton University right in the middle of it all. Have dinner at a wide array of area restaurants. On your way down to the beaches, you can even stop at Colonial Williamsburg, Luray Caverns, Kings Dominion or Busch Gardens.

Where to stay: Ideally, you would want to stay close to the beach. The least expensive way to do this is to do a mystery deal, as explained above. If you don’t mind staying away from the beach to save money, try to stay in Hampton or Norfolk. You’ll be a very short drive away.

3. Washington, DC by way of Alexandria, Virginia

SmithsonianCastel_07120014

Why I love it: It’s the perfect staycation spot! Historic Alexandria is also very pet-friendly. You’re in close proximity to Washington, DC and all it has to offer–without the tourist crowds.

Getting around: Walking, cycling via bike rental, and the metro are all great options.

What to do: Walk around the small towns with your dog. Grab a bite to eat. Metro into DC for a baseball game. Visit the monuments and museums. Go on a photo tour.

Where to stay: While there are many hotels (you’d be near the airport), my favorite is Hotel Monaco Alexandria by Kimpton Hotels. If you’re celebrating something special, let them know. My husband and I stayed there for our wedding night, since we had an early flight. They added a few extra special touches to the room for us.

2. National Harbor (Oxon Hill, MD)

Capital_Wheel_at_National_Harbor,_Maryland,_USA

Why I love it: This is another awesome staycation place. There is a nice selection of hotels and restaurants. It’s also very close to all Washington DC has to offer.

Getting around: Walking! While I didn’t list it above, I think walkability is a great plus for this area. Once you arrive, you can park and leave the car.

What to do: Walk around the harbor and take in the sights. View The Awakening and take photos. Ride the Ferris Wheel. Have steak and cheese spring rolls at Public House. Visit the Peep store. Buy some Sour Cream Donuts from the Miller Farm Farmer’s Market.

Where to stay: There are many hotels, but my favorite for price and atmosphere was the Aloft hotel. It had a really cool feel to it and was usually less than $200 per night. While writing this post, I learned the hotel had closed and is now the AC Hotel by Marriott.

1. Ocean City, MD

800px-Ocean_City_Maryland_aerial_view_north

Why I love it: It’s the beach! There is sun, sand, and fries from Thrasher’s!

Getting around: Jon and I drive to the nearby bus depot, where we can park and ride for $5.00 all day. Once we’re on the boardwalk, we walk up the boardwalk and take the tram back down (sometimes).

What to do: Walk on the boardwalk and take in the sights, smells, and fries from Thrashers. Seriously, that should be at the top of your must-do list. Hop on a boogie board and catch some waves.  Sunbathe and read a good book. Catch a beautiful beach sunset.

Where to stay: We usually do day trips, but Groupon always has a good deal on Ocean City hotels.

Are there any places that I missed? Be sure to share in the comments!

P.S. I’ve included links for your convenience. Some of which are affiliate links.

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