Sure, you could spend your day off in Baltimore, after all, there is certainly no shortage of great destinations in the city... But you can only do the same thing so many times before it loses its novelty, right?
Absolutely. And that's why we did all the hard work for you, rounding up this list of spontaneous day trips less than three hours from the city. The best part? From amusement to nature parks, urban exploration to commercial destinations, there's something on this list for whatever you feel like doing.
Now for the easy part, grab a friend or two and pack yourselves into the car for an epic, unplanned day out. Oh—and don't forget to snap some pics and show us how much fun you're having. Bon Voyage!
Note: times and distance may differ with traffic/detours
Shenandoah National Park, VA
Distance: 1 h 51 min (108 miles)
This picturesque state park is awaiting your arrival. The views from atop the mountains are nearly unbelievable, while the views of the night sky really are surreal. This is one of the few places within reasonable distance to get a clear view of the Milky Way, so if you plan a day out here, be sure to stay for nightfall and wish upon some shooting stars, you won't regret it.
Wildwood Boardwalk, NJ
Distance: 2 h 43 min (151 miles)
An amusement park + dozens of shops + a beach = best day out. Spend a day on this poppin' Jersey Shore boardwalk because it is the perfect day trip destination when you want a little excitement in your life right on the Atlantic coast. Just remember to watch for the tram cars.
Where: 1 h 45 min (106 miles)
Sometimes you need to get away from the city you know and explore the sites of a completely different city. Whether you choose to museum hop, hang out in the hammocks of Spruce Street Harbor Park, or just shop 'til ya drop at the dozens of locally owned businesses, the Philadelphia city life will not disappoint. Oh, and while you are here, will you be taking the delicious Philly Cheesesteak Challenge?
Distance: 2 h 22 min (141 miles)
You know you have been yearning to check Centralia off of your urban exploration bucket list for a while now, and at only over two hours away, it is totally doable on your next day off! So, what's stopping you? Get out there and explore what is left of this eerie abandoned town.
Assateague Island, MD
Distance: 2 h 28 min (140 miles)
Do some horsin' around with the wild ponies at Assateague Island. Assateague Island is a 37-mile stretch of island designated a National Natural Landmark—two-thirds of the island are in the state of Maryland and the southern third is in Virginia. The ponies are the island's main attraction and, if a single day of hanging with them just isn't enough, well, why not set up camp and spend the night on this remarkable island?
Calvert Cliffs State Park, MD
Distance: 1 h 27 min (77.0 miles)
You know all those times you went to the beach and you were extremely disappointed because you never could find a shark tooth hidden among all the seashells? Well, I have good news. At the scenic Calvert Cliffs State Park, it's rare not to find dozens of shark teeth fossils—even from a megladon! Shark week just got real—literally.
Clark's Elioak Farm, MD
Distance: 24 min (20.3 miles)
This whimsical life-size fairy garden at Clark's Elioak Farm is full of your favorite childhood characters, all gathered from the now-abandoned Enchanted Forest Amusement Park. While the Enchanted Forest Pine Tree Maze definitely gets the most attention at the farm, they also offer a ton of other fun activities to fill your day with enjoyment, like the petting zoo, seasonal events, tours, and much more!
Distance: 51 min (38.3 miles)
It's easy to overlook the great places in close proximity to us, even America's capital is not immune. If you haven't been to Washington, DC you need to go, like now. There is so much to do and see here that you absolutely will not find anywhere else in the country. Even if you have been here, it's time to go back because things are always changing!
St. Michaels, MD
Distance: 1 h 29 min (79.5 miles)
Escape the hustle and bustle of Baltimore and drive a little while south to this adorable, quaint harbor town. This never-too-busy walkable village has everything you need for a relaxing day out, including mom&pop shops, scenic views, parks, and tons of delicious seafood eateries—to name only a few highlights.
Hershey Park, PA
Distance: 1 h 31 min (90.1 miles)
Who doesn't love chocolate? And who doesn't want to spend an entire day surrounded by it? Luckily, the one and only Hershey Park is only an hour and a half away. Ride the roller coasters, check out the animals in the zoo, and eat a year's worth of chocolate all in one day! Anyone else craving some delectable Hershey's chocolate now?
Distance: 3 h (192 miles)
If you consider yourself a history buff, a trip to Williamsburg is definitely in order. The city is well known for its colonial and American Revolution history, boasting several museums and dozens of historic attractions offering visitors a look into the not-so-long-ago past of the great US of A. Even if you do not care so much for the history, don't knock this idea just yet. Williamsburg is also home to two of the best amusement parks around: Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Ocean City, MD
Distance: 2 h 36 min (139 miles)
Hang out in and around the Atlantic Ocean at none other than Ocean City, MD! This tourist town is a lot like Wildwood, with a boardwalk lined with shops and eateries, but people tend to prefer one over the other for their individual reasons. I can't make that choice for you, so it's up to you to visit them both and pick your fave—or enjoy them both for different reasons.
Camelback Mountain Adventures
Distance: 3 h (195 miles)
Pushing the limits of our thrre-hour criteria, the Camelback Mountain Adventures is worth every bit of distance. Experience some of Pennsylvania's most beautiful scenery and glide down the Poconos on the mountain coaster or zip line, ride the ski lift up the mountain, and challenge yourself on the outdoor obstacle course.
Tolchester Beach, MD
Distance: 1 h 41 min (81.5 miles)
Directly across the harbor is the quaint Tolchester Beach. While the shoreline is pebbly and known for being windy, it's the perfect spot to go sea glass hunting - and when your back starts getting tired from all the bending over, you can stop for a while and admire the views at one of the local cafes.
The Amish Village, PA
Distance: 1 h 28 min (84.4 miles)
Experience the simplicity of Amish living at The Amish Village. Tour the authentic Amish facilities, watch as they go about their daily lives, try some of their delicious baked goods, and maybe even purchase an Amish-crafted gift from the gift shop to bring home with you. No matter what you do, you will definitely leave feeling grateful for all of our creature comforts, like that you're reading this right now.
Underground Railroad Experience Trail, MD
Distance: 34 min (29.2 miles)
Experience the trail that hundreds of fleeing slaves took to freedom in a four-mile round trip hike at Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park. You can choose to do a self-guided hike at any time, or a guided hike during their seasonal business hours. This is a great choice if you want to do something active, historical, and not drive too far away.
Distance: 51 min (49.4 miles)
A quick hour drive is a small inconvenience to sip fine local wine and tour acres of wineries in Frederick. If wine isn't your thing, that's okay. There are plenty of foods to delve into—or you could take a food tour!
Popcorn Park Zoo
Distance: 2 h 44 min (154 miles)
Spend some time with the adorable rescued animals at Popcorn Park Zoo. From blind tigers to unwanted farm animals, this certainly is not your standard zoo with only exotic wildlife; Popcorn Park Zoo has become a sanctuary for any type of animal in need, some of which are even up for adoption! The best part: feeding the animals treats from a popcorn bucket.