We’ve got a precious few months of beautiful weather, so why not get out of town for the day and see what weird, exciting locations lie just a few hours away? We picked five of the most unique, mind-expanding sites less than 3 hours away from D.C. to help make the most of this summer.
This acclaimed winery is not only a beautiful estate with over 20 different wines for you to sample accompanied by charcuterie and fancy cheeses, it’s also home to the Landmark Ruins, the remnants of a mansion designed by Thomas Jefferson. Once home to James Barbour, one-time Governor of Virginia and Senator who was also a member of John Quincy Adams’ cabinet, the mansion burnt down in 1884. What remains of the structure is a fascinating nugget of American architecture, a bit of historical decay that is perhaps best enjoyed while riding a subtle wine buzz. 17655 Winery Rd, Barboursville, VA; bbvwine.com // @barboursville
Among the largest in the country, Luray Caverns is a captivating look at the endless beauty nature is capable of producing, full of brain-warping stone formations, massive caverns and hidden underwater lakes. Luray is also home to one of the most unique instruments you’ll ever see (or hear): the Great Stalacpipe Organ “plays” stalactites throughout the cavern with a simple tap, producing sounds you’d never expect from what is possibly the largest musical instrument in the world. Beyond that, you can expect a classic car museum, a collection of vintage toys, a hedge maze and a ropes course. 101 Cave Hill Rd., Luray, VA; luraycaverns.com // @luraycaverns
Shenandoah National Park
Head about 80 miles west of DC and you’ll find some of the best hiking trails in the mid-Atlantic. With over 500 miles of trails, including over 100 miles of the iconic Appalachian Trail, it’s got something for hikers of every experience level. Looking to see the sights from inside your car instead? Check out the 105 mile Skyline Drive, which runs the length of the park. If you’d rather stay over, there’s plenty of camping available, as well as a trio of lodges and a handful of primitive public use cabins located throughout the park. 21073 Skyline Dr., Front Royal, VA; nps.gov/shen // @shenandoahnps
A novel piece of roadside Americana, visiting Dinosaur Land is like stepping back in time to a time where stepping back even FURTHER in time was just a few handcrafted fiberglass structures away. You’re greeted by a hand painted sign with more than a slight resemblance to those that welcome you to Disneyland and are immediately confronted by over 50 fiberglass creatures both prehistoric and otherwise (be sure to grab a pic with the 60 foot Jaws tribute and the 14-foot tall praying mantis!). Given that the park is over a half century old, some wear and tear on these homemade structures should be expected, but that’s all part of the charm! 3848 Stonewall Jackson Hwy, White Post, VA; dinosaurland.com
Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike
Just 25 miles over the state line into Pennsylvania is an abandoned section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Back in 1968 the highway was rerouted and a 13-mile stretch of superhighway was suddenly obsolete, and has since developed major post-apocalyptic, “nature is healing” vibes. A grey area in terms of like, trespassing or whatever, the area has become a favorite for adventurous bikers and hikers looking for some unique views while cruising around rural PA. abandonedturnpike.com