I have always loved exploring new places because the thrill of seeing a new place reminds me that there is more to experience in life - that various perspectives can better the human race - humanity itself flourishes with the enrichment of culture. Living or visiting DC, sometimes you need to get out of the city to experience the history and the culture of the East Coast. While there is history at every corner and restaurant of DC, on the outskirts of town, there is also so much discover that only requires a short drive. I miss having the freedom of having my own car, and every time when I go a road trip I am reminded of the West Coast again, driving on the coast of the Sea - to - Sky highway in Whistler or the Pacific Coast highway in Vancouver. It hard not be homesick, because so many things are different, and you can never find that sense of familiarity that is exactly the same. When I think about that notion, I am reminded by a quote I read a long time again: We look to places that remind us of the familiar, but also bring a sense of difference that is infused with what we know. To replace my love for travelling, I decided three places I hoped would showcase the culture and the aesthetic of the East Coast, and I was not dissapointed.
Nestled on the banks of the Potomac River, Mount Vernon was George Washington's home for over 45 years and is around 30 minutes driving from DC. Here you can take a personalized tour of the various parts of the mansion, including the Wharf, the various style well meticulous gardens, George Washington's tomb and the Slave Memorial. I loved walking around the gardens and noticing the accentuation of the southern plantation : especially acutal cotton that I have never seen on the West Coast. It brings to life the movies that I have seen of the South through the discovery of the various flaunt and plants. The roundtrip around the estate can be tenuous, so be sure to wear sneakers as there is a short hiking portion back to the main door from the pioneer farm. The waterfront promenade area is also very beautiful, as one can imagine fishing in times past.There is an also an interactive museum located before entering the mansion, where you can learn more about the history of George Washington. Many monuments and universities in DC are named after George Washington, and the significance we can see why. Most notable for being the first president of the United States, Washington is most known for leading the colonial forces victory over the British and believed in the ideals of America. Known for being "the father of our country", George Washington instilled in the values of America that we can today in the Constitution. One of the most popular historic homes in the US for a reason, the rooms and culture of the 1800s still bring us back to life the culture in the 1800s.
2. Harpers Ferry
The drive to Harpers Ferry from DC takes around an hour and a half and brings one to throughout the states of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, while also exposing one to the meeting point of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers. Harpers Ferry is historically known for the the most strategic point during the Civil War and also for John Brown's failed seizure of the armoury to plan a slave revolt which propelled the nation toward civil war. During the American Civil War, Harper's Ferry was a significant Union army camp and logistical site and was ultimately the place where the most Union soldiers surrounded to the Confederate solders during the American Civil War. Be sure to head to the visitor parking lot and pay and small entrance fee, then take the trolley bus for around 10 minutes to reach the city centre, where you can head over to explore the museum and hiking trails.
It is difficult to imagine that once in this beautiful location surrounded by quaint tourist shops, there was a major civil war that was fought over the rights of freedom and democracy.Here, there are many famous hiking trails, but one of the most beautiful is the Maryland Heights Overlook, which takes around 2 hours roundtrip, and brings to the top overlooking the city of Harpers Ferry with a natural vista. The Maryland Heights Overlook trail is a moderate hike that has several steep sections with many rock sections and steep ascents, so be sure to wear proper hiking shoes to ensure a smooth sailing.In the summer, white water rafting is also very popular along the Potomac river. I loved the bridge that takes you toward the Harper's Ferry sign and the river that reminded me of the natural scenery of the West Coast. In the city centre, there are a number of museums and antique stores that show and testify to the history of this historic city. Initially entrenched by the beauty of the city overlooking the scenic overpass, this is no doubt one of your bucket list destinations outside of DC.
3. Bluemont Winery in West Virginia
I believe that every region has their own distinctive taste and culture, and that is reflected in the wines that they produce. In the Canadian Okanagan region, various wines are produced differently based on their climate. On an alumni trip with DC Hoyas over a rather warm fall day, I headed to Bluemont winery to discover the innovation of the wineries of West Virginia. Although not known for its wineries, Bluemont winery has some of the best views of Blue Ridge Mountains with vast orchards beneath you as your explore wine tastings and decadent toppings along with your tastings. It is nice to get out into the countryside once in a while, and for sure the experience at Bluemont winery, a family farm that has deep roots rich traditions dating back to the 1970s. The dining space is vast and spacious, and is perfect on a crisp fall day to explore take in the atmosphere of rural Virginia. During the winery tour, we explored three different wines, a red table wine, a white wine and another red wine. If your looking for a place that gives a relaxing atmosphere in the countryside not too far from DC, then Bluemont Winery is the place, offering catering, wine tastings and views that go the distance.
Chelsea Reviews 4/5:
These day trips all attest that there is so much to be explored outside of the city when you have explored all the museums and the attractions in DC. Choose Mount Vernon, Harpers Ferry and explore a popular Virginia winery if you have more time in this region. If you miss the hiking and the view of the West Coast, learn to appreciate the history of the East Coast and the significance that history plays in shaping cultural and lifestyle norms over the years.