Need a Break? 8 Weekend Getaways from Baltimore

No matter which of Charm City's charms draw you in, sometimes you need a holiday, hon. Try these weekend getaways from Baltimore for an easy escape

Baltimore is known as Charm City for a reason. The Inner Harbor’s waterfront attractions bring tourists from all over. For locals, though, the charm is in the neighborhoods – where the landscape and waterscape of the city make for surprising skyline views from all angles, and often include the winking mascot of Baltimore’s beloved National Bohemian beer. It’s charming alright, hon.

But sometimes, when there’s no O’s game to watch at your corner bar, no synchronized swimming extravaganza in Druid Hill Park, and no kinetic sculpture race at AVAM, you may want to get the heck out of town. Weekend getaways from Baltimore are easy, thanks to its mid- Atlantic location.

Philadelphia Freedom: History and Arts


Philadelphia is a city of contradictions: its colonial beginnings and buttoned-up Main Line society contrast and complement its working class and immigrant heritage. The Philadelphia of the 21st century is proud of its history, while forward-looking and fabulous.

Art lovers know that the Philadelphia Museum of Art houses a vast collection spanning centuries and cultures. Movie lovers know that Rocky Balboa trained by running up its majestic stairs. And everyone loves snapping a picture with the Rocky statue in front of the museum. Bonus: your admission ticket also gets you in to the Barnes Foundation and the Rodin Museum nearby. On the other end of the art spectrum, the folk-art wonderland that is Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens draws visitors with its multi-hued mosaics and mazes that will make you wonder just where on earth you are.

Food lovers know the haute cuisine is on point in Philly, just as the cheesesteaks and roast pork are. Every local has a favorite spot for the latter, which is how I learned about John’s Roast Pork. It’s no hidden gem, though – even the James Beard Foundation has recognized their sandwiches. As for the higher end of dining: restaurateur Stephen Starr’s restaurants dot the city map, from the casual Dandelion to the retro glam of Butcher and Singer. 2019’s best restaurant in the country, Zahav, offers Israeli food on its covered patio.

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Chincoteague Island: Seaside Calm Life


The island of Chincoteague offers sweeping vistas of marshland by the Atlantic Ocean on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Water is life here, and most folks in the area work and play in the temperate waters of the ocean and inlets. If you don’t take a fishing charter yourself, at least take advantage of some of the freshest seafood around at a waterfront restaurant or one of the seafood joints along Maddox Boulevard.

Generations of children fell in love with the area from afar when they read the original YA pony fic, “Misty of Chincoteague.” Just try to resist the call of the wild ponies, I dare you.

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Richmond Rad: Vibrant Downtown Gallery Scene


If you prefer a Southern twist for your weekend getaway, Richmond, Virginia has a lot to offer. The city’s Civil War history (it served as the capitol of the Confederacy) is finally taking a backseat to the city’s arts, food, and nature in attracting visitors and new residents.

For arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a vast collection, with spectacular collections of modern and contemporary art, Russian Imperialist Art and Fabergé eggs, as well as Kehinde Wiley’s “Rumors of War” – depicting a majestic African-American man on horseback, addressing the confederate statues that until recently stood tall along nearby Monument Avenue. The museum is open and free every single day of the year, so you can wobble over after your Thanksgiving dinner or set your new year’s resolutions as you wander the galleries.

The Institute of Contemporary Arts on Broad Street is the newest addition to the arts scene, with frequently-changing exhibitions and performances.

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Chesapeake Bay: Family Fun and a Summer Favorite


A drive down the eastern shore is a perennial summer favorite, but don’t forget the other seasons. Fall is for art and oyster festivals, winter for wildlife, and spring for sublimely serene solitude. Foodies can search for the perfect crab cake, or keep it simple and pick up a few dozen fresh steamed crabs with a healthy shake of Old Bay seasoning.

The Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor’s Center shows the real-life heroics of citizens who helped slaves escape to freedom. If you prefer to enjoy the nature, bring your bike for a silent ride in nearby Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. In winter, you can spot the original snowbirds, the Tundra Swans, on their seasonal escape from Northern Canada.

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Jersey?? Shore!!


If you’ve never been there, I’ll bet when you hear the words “Jersey Shore,” you don’t picture sprawling dunes and charming Victorian towns. But those who make the annual pilgrimage “down the shore” know that New Jersey beaches range from the kitschy to the seriously serene.

Avalon and Stone Harbor have seen many generations of repeat visitors from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York who are drawn by its quiet charm. Avalon has all the things you need for a family week at the beach – a short boardwalk, a small arcade, ice cream shops, pancake houses, miniature golf, and of course, a nice wide beach with lifeguards – but none of the cheesy t-shirt sellers or amusements you’ll find in Wildwood or Seaside.

Stone Harbor adds a bit more of everything with a slightly larger commercial strip, but keeps all the charm of a small Jersey Shore town.

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Berkeley Springs: Healing Mountain Waters

Credit- Molly Wolff Photography

The funky little town of Berkeley Springs has been providing refuge to weary city folk for centuries. The springs themselves are all over the area, some with brick features built around them to facilitate bathing by early visitors like George Washington himself. Berkeley Springs State Park in the heart of town offers spa and bath facilities at bargain prices.

Home to artists and artisans of all stripes, Berkeley Springs today is a thriving tourist town with lots to see and do aside from the springs, though those are still the main attraction. The Ice House Artists’ Co-op showcases area artists’ wares and is a fun destination on its own.

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Alexandria: Cobblestones and Ice Cream Cones


Yes, Alexandria has history and cobblestones and flickering gas lamps and ghost tours and ice cream shops, but it also has a brand new waterfront that buzzes with people every evening. A new park at the foot of King Street offers lots of room to walk, sit, swing, and admire the water views, along with the rotating artworks on display.

Did you know that there’s a trail along the river that stretches from Mount Vernon, seven miles south of Alexandria, all the way to Washington, DC, 11 miles north? Why not rent a bike and explore?

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Annapolis: Boat and Breakfast by the Bay


Wandering the cobblestone streets of Annapolis between the Maryland Statehouse – the oldest in continuous use – and the waterside City Dock area, you will feel the history all around you.

Annapolis is a little bit buttoned-up for a port town, but you can find the funk if you look for it. Nowhere are the contradictions more pronounced than in the two local institutions of higher learning: the U.S. Naval Academy and the small liberal-arts St. John’s College, whose students are drawn by its Great Books curriculum.

The student bodies are certainly different, and they enjoy a friendly but fierce rivalry in a surprising sport: croquet. Since the 1980s, the Annapolis Cup has brought Navy plebes and St. Johns Johnnies together for a fierce croquet battle before thousands of spectators.

You’ll probably want to check out the new Annapolis Maritime Museum to learn about the Chesapeake Bay and its history, or book a sunset cruise on the skipjack Wilma Lee.

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