Spring break is quickly approaching, so I put together 8 Spring Break destinations in Virginia and Maryland… and West Virginia! These ideas are all within a 3 hour drive of DC.
A Note on Dates: This year, Fairfax County and Montgomery County Public Schools have the same spring break from March 29 – April 2. And DC Public Schools will take their Spring Break 2 weeks later from April 12 – 16.
I researched the big college spring break dates in order to help you avoid the swarms at beaches. I was happy to learn that many of them are forgoing the week-long spring breaks this year. Instead colleges including Virginia Tech and William & Mary are having “spring days” where students will get a day off once a week for a month instead of a week off.
The recommendations are organized into 2 categories below (Click destinations to go directly to the info):
- Getaways Our Family Has Loved — Virginia Beach, Bethany Beach, Colonial Beach, Shenandoah, and Annapolis,
- More Spring Break Ideas haven’t visited…yet! — Williamsburg, St. Michaels, and Harpers Ferry
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Spring Break Destinations in Virginia and Maryland that Our Family Loves
1) Virginia Beach
Last summer our family had a wonderful socially distanced getaway to Virginia Beach. It was our first time visiting as a family and I was worried it would be too crowded. But there was so much to do that was inherently spread out from other people, that we felt safe the entire time!
Where to Stay with a Family:
We loved our stay at The Residence Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront. It is right on the Boardwalk so once we parked, we didn’t need our car again. The best part is each suite has oceanfront views and we had the best sunrises each morning! For these times, I really liked their cleaning protocols, kitchen in each suite and social distancing measures. Breakfast is included but it is takeaway now (like breakfast sandwiches, bottles of juice, milk and water etc.)
Things to Do on Spring Break in Virginia Beach:
- Number 1 has to be the beach. It is truly massive! There is actually 28 miles of public beaches and the main beach is extremely wide. It can take as much as 5 minutes to walk just from the Boardwalk to the Ocean. Even at the height of summer, there was plenty of room to spread out and play in the ocean and sand.
- I was pleasantly surprised with the 10 foot wide and 3 mile long Boardwalk. Even though there were other families, we could all spread out when passing. Check out the famous Neptune Statue while you’re there.
- Our family’s favorite activity in Virginia Beach was the Surry Bike rentals on the Boardwalk. We all had so much fun pedaling and exploring the miles long stretch.
- There are many off-Boardwalk things to do in Virginia Beach including First Landing State Park, Cape Henry Lighthouse, Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center, Military Aviation Museum and Sandbridge Beach.
- Fly a kite on the beach! We purchased a great quality kite at a unique toy shop but if you want to be prepared ahead of time, I found the same kite on Amazon. The brand is Premier Kites and they are amazing quality of fiberglass frames with Polyester Ripstop reinforced technology. Once it went in the air, it didn’t come down for an hour (tied to my bag!)
Where to Eat in Virginia Beach:
We ate a lot of our meals in our hotel as it had a kitchen and I brought food in the car with us. There is a Panera close to the Boardwalk so we had delivery once and one time we ordered takeout from Peter Chang’s 20 minutes away which was delicious!
2) Bethany Beach, DE (2.5 hrs from DC)
I just wrote an entire separate blog post about our recent trip to Bethany Beach in mid-March which you can check out here. Bethany Beach was the perfect spring break trip for us as a family as it is only 2.5 hours drive from DC and less than 3 hours from northern Virginia.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites Residence Inn and truly loved it! The suite had a kitchen including dishwasher, fridge, microwave and all the utensils you need. In my opinion, this was the best Residence Inn we have ever stayed at because you could actually could hear the waves from our room!
The hotel had a very friendly staff and a great heated indoor saltwater pool (with retractable roof for the summer), spa and indoor exercise room. The hotel must have been recently renovated because the lobby and rooms were all very nice.
More details including Things to Do and Pros and Cons of visiting Bethany Beach in the Spring here.
3) Shenandoah Spring Break
The mountains, rivers and valleys of the Shenandoah are beautiful at any time of year, but our best trips have been in the Spring. Nature is just starting to wake up and its not as busy as the Fall! We felt like we had the whole place to ourselves!
Things to Do on Spring Break near Shenandoah:
- Of course number 1 is to visit Shenandoah National Park. This is the closest national park in DC and the only one in Virginia and Maryland. The park includes 300 square miles of beautiful mountain views, hikes and waterfalls. Skyline Drive is a beautiful 100 mile drive with dozens of overlooks.
- TIP: There are a couple different entrance stations to the park but I recommend Thornton Gap Entrance Station rather than Front Royal. It is less busy and you enter at the midpoint of Skyline Drive so you can go North or South. There are some great hikes right around there including the more difficult Hawksbill and Old Rag. There are also some kid-friendly hikes from Pinnacles Picnic Ground to the Jewell Hollow Overlook and the lovely Limberlost Trail.
- 45 minutes from Thornton Gap Entrance Station is Harrisonburg, Shenandoah Valley’s largest town. It has a cute downtown, Arboretum and JMU University. We’ve stayed here twice and really enjoyed it as a base for exploring Shenandoah.
- A great stop on your way back to DC is the town of Luray. Luray has the largest caverns in the eastern United States. Last year we didn’t feel comfortable in the caverns so we opted for the free and open air epic playground at Ralph H. Dean Recreation Park!
Where to Eat:
- Our hotel room (below) had a great kitchen so we cooked most of our meals there but I can highly recommend takeout from Mashita for delicious Korean food in downtown Harrisonburg.
- Also there is a Krispy Kreme drive through right next to the hotel!
Where to Stay near Shenandoah:
We’ve stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn Harrisonburg a couple of times and it’s great for families and couples. We loved the kitchenettes in each room, pool (no one was there!), and free breakfast (might be to-go breakfast but at least we got some free drinks and fruit.)
4) Colonial Beach, Virginia
If you’d rather not spend as much time in the car on your Spring Break, check out Colonial Beach which is only 1.5 hours south of DC but a world away from city life! It is a lovely spring break destination in Virginia and certainly a hidden gem right on the Potomac. Lots of families miss Colonial Beach, but I love this area as it is much more relaxed and less touristy.
There is lots to do in Colonial Beach and the surrounding areas:
- Play on the beach! Colonial Beach has the 2nd largest sand beach on the Potomac. Very kid-friendly because no big waves J
- Rent a Beach Cart on Colonial Ave.
- Rent bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, or charters at Ferry Landing Pier
- Visit Caledon State Park a few miles away with old-growth forests, wildlife, and eagle sightings!
- Check out Ingleside Vineyards and Monroe Bay vineyard
Where To Eat:
We ate and grilled out a lot at our rental but also loved the incredible food at Suki the Cuisine, which is a Thai French Restaurant close to the beach. You can also eat right on the beach with your toes in the sand at two restaurants: Dockside Restaurant and Tiki Bar and High Tides on the Potomac.
Where to Stay:
The best area to stay is right on the water at a local Airbnb. We have stayed twice with a large extended family and loved homes with decks right onto the water. (We stayed at this beautiful and large Airbnb with our extended family, sleeps 10. Not an affiliate link, just wanted to share!
5) Annapolis, Maryland
Annapolis is a beautiful historic city right on the Chesapeake Bay. It is known as the capital of Maryland, the location of the Naval Academy and many 17th and 18th century buildings.
Things to Do in Annapolis on Your Spring Break:
- Wander around Annapolis’ Historic District with buildings dating back to the 1600s. There is so much to explore in the cobblestone streets and alley ways.
- Quiet Waters Park is just south of Annapolis and includes 350 acres of waterfront nature, bridges and lovely paved walks.
- Check out the yachts on Ego Alley along the harbor where theres lots of great food options.
- And across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is Kent Island which we explored twice this past year! Check out Terrapin Nature Park with a 15 minute walk to a beautiful narrow beach. And definitely check out Stevensville Crab Shack which was a highlight of our visit last year.
Where to Eat in Annapolis:
- You must check out Cantler’s Crab House located right on the water 5 miles from downtown. You can eat their famous Maryland Crabs on a huge patio for outdoor seating, or you can get your food to go.
- Another great spot is Dock Street Bar and Grill right on the City Dock where you can eat seafood and check out the beautiful boats in the harbor.
Where to Stay in Annapolis:
Road Trip with Kids Activities
Before I get into more Spring Break ideas, I wanted to share this list of Kids Activities in the car for road trips. Hope its helpful!
More Virginia and Maryland and MD Spring Break Destinations that we haven’t visited…yet!
Below are 4 more Spring Break ideas that are on our list to check out soon! I linked to some great info that I have found helpful when planning future travels:
1) Williamsburg, VA
I’m so excited to visit Colonial Williamsburg soon! I loved this blog post, How to Spend the Weekend in Wiliamsburg VA with Kids from a insta friend Skylar Aria’s Adventures. It talks about the Historic Triangle (Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestowne Settlement and Yorktown) and Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
And I have my eye on Marriott’s family Resort Manor Club at Ford’s Colony as the prices look great for a 4 person room in April for under $120.
2) St. Michaels, MD
St. Michaels has been on my list for years and I think this will be the year we finally visit! It is a small town on the Chesapeake Bay just and hour and a half from DC. There is a historic 1879 Lighthouse that is now part of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (with some outdoor exhibits!) Also lots of cute shops and restaurants to check out in the downtown area.
3) Harpers Ferry, WV
Last but not least is Harper’s Ferry West Virginia, a short hour and a half from DC. It is a beautiful town nestled between two rivers and the rolling hills of West Virginia. Harpers Ferry can be busy with visitors in the summer so Spring is the perfect time to visit. I’ve not visited yet with my kids but this blog post was helpful from another insta friend. Some places she mentions to visit include the National Historical Park, High Street, and the Appalachian Trail Bridge.
I hope you found one (or more!) inspiring spring break destinations in Virginia and Maryland and if I missed a great spot, let me know!
P.S. And check out my post on our favorite Car Kids Activities from free games, under $5 toys and under $20.