Thursday, June 29 2023 10:28

Get Away Beyond PA

Written by Shannon Montgomery

Adventure awaits across the state line

Kent Island, MD

2 hours

Get away from it all on Kent Island, the largest island in the Chesapeake Bay. Situated at the base of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, it’s easily accessible by land or sea.

Photo: Queen Anne’s County Tourism

Experience the great outdoors at Terrapin Nature Park. This award-winning, 276-acre park features a three-mile oyster chaff walking trail, winding through wildflower meadows, wetlands, tidal pools, woodlands and sandy beaches. You’ll spot swans, ospreys, frogs and terrapins. The Matapeake Clubhouse and Beach has a swimming beach, dog beach, outdoor amphitheater, family picnic area and one-mile woodland trail.

Plan a trip to the Historic Stevensville Arts and Entertainment District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s home to over 100 historic sites, all open to the public on the first Saturday of the month. Drop by shops and art galleries, including the Kent Island Federation of Arts, which hosts exhibitions and events in a Victorian-style house.

Drive or boat to Kent Narrows, a strait separating the island from the mainland. Indulge in seafood at its many waterfront restaurants, including Narrows Restaurant and Bridges Restaurant. Beyond the Narrows, the historic Kent Island Resort serves regional cuisine on 220 waterfront acres, making it a great lodging option, too.

Washington, D.C.

2.5 hours

There’s loads to do in our nation’s capital. The National Mall, extending from the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, is a must-see. Admission to the monuments and memorials — including the Jefferson, MLK and World War II Memorials — is free, and the Washington Monument requires advanced tickets only if you want to climb to the top.

See how our government works by touring its most famous buildings. The Supreme Court is open for self-guided tours when court isn’t in session, and you can schedule tours of the Capitol and the White House — provided you book far in advance.

The Smithsonian Institution includes 17 D.C. museums and galleries, and the National Zoo (home to giant pandas), all with free admission. See dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum, explore the history and future of flight at the Air and Space Museum, and discover contemporary art at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Be sure to visit the newest Smithsonian, the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Beyond monuments and museums, D.C. is a vibrant city with plenty to do. Spot political icons at Off the Record, the Hay-Adams’ basement lounge. Head to Georgetown for a shopping spree, dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant, or head to the up-and-coming Wharf District for live music amid waterfront views.

Shenandoah National Park, VA

3.5 hours

Escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life at Virginia’s oldest and largest national park. Nestled along the Blue Ridge Mountains, it boasts over 200,000 acres of protected lands — cascading waterfalls, babbling mountain streams, breathtaking vistas, wildflower fields, secluded hollows. It’s home to a wide variety of wildlife, including black bears, white-tailed deer, red foxes and the rare Shenandoah salamander — found only within the park.

The most popular activity is hiking more than 500 miles of trails. With adventurous rock scrambles and 360-degree views, Old Rag Mountain is the most popular destination, though you’ll need to purchase a $1 day-hike permit from There are plenty of other trails, most starting from trailheads on scenic Skyline Drive, from the beginner-friendly Fox Hollow Trail to the challenging but rewarding trek to Hawksbill Summit, the highest point in the park.

Besides hiking, consider biking, rock-climbing and even horseback riding — equestrian-friendly trails are marked by yellow blazes. Want to stay the night? Backcountry camping is allowed in most areas, provided you get a permit first. There are also four family campgrounds, two lodges with onsite dining and the Lewis Mountain Cabins, with both climate-controlled and more rustic options.

Charlottesville, VA

5 hours

Charlottesville may be best known as home to the University of Virginia, regarded as one of the country’s most beautiful campuses — the only one in the U.S. to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and well worth a tour. That said, Charlottesville is much more than just a college town.

On Main Street you’ll find the historic Downtown Mall. Spanning eight blocks, this pedestrian-only area is home to more than 120 shops, 30 restaurants, art galleries, performance venues and the Ting Pavilion, which hosts the popular Fridays After Five free concert series.

Just 10 minutes from downtown, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello is another must-see destination. Drawing inspiration from Italian and French architecture, the mansion and 5,000-acre grounds are gorgeous and steeped in history. A day pass includes tours of the manor’s first floor, garden and grounds, and a guided outdoor tour focused on the 400 enslaved people who lived and worked on the plantation. Just three miles south is Highland, the historic residence of our fifth president, James Monroe.

Wine lovers won’t want to miss the Monticello Wine Trail, 40 wineries within 25 miles of Charlottesville. Take in the bucolic Virginia countryside as you sample regional wines. Sign up online for the Monticello Wine Trail Passport and receive a special wine glass at your tenth winery visit.