Need a quick escape that will take no more than a tank or two of gas and won't drain your vacation bank? Dumb question . . . who doesn't? We asked Travel staffer Andrea Sachs to send Washingtonians packing on a year's worth of weekend getaways, starting with next Friday through Sunday. All are four hours or less by car from the Beltway, and there's a jaunt for every type, from riding white-water rapids in West Virginia, to viewing art in a Delaware estate, to gorging on chocolate in Hershey, Pa. Because costs can change overnight (and season to season) at attractions and hotels, we've left off prices but provided contact information so you can go straight to the source -- before you head straight to your car.
For a Super (Bowl) weekend, head to Atlantic City and the ritzy Borgata resort, the town's newest casino.
(Courtesy Of The Borgata)
_____2003 Way to Go Issue_____
Booking Air Online With Ease (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Free Cities! (Well, Almost.) (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Airport Security (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
How to Renew or Apply for a Passport (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
To B&B or . . . (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Organizations and Web Sites for Specialty Travel (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Airline Contacts (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Taking the Train (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Cruise Lines (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Catching the Bus (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Airport Shuttle Services (The Washington Post, Sep 14, 2003)
Autumn begins this week, so have a final summer fling in Wildwood, N.J., where the beaches are wide, the boardwalk is still open and the sun is warm -- plus, rooms under $50 are easy to come by. Info: 888-729-0033, www.wildwoods.com.
The Chesapeake just looks more inviting in early fall. Spend time taking in the charms of Annapolis, then go for a spin on the Schooner Woodwind. (It's also a "boat-and-breakfast" that you can bunk aboard; make reservations now for next May and onward.) Info: 410-263-7837, www.schooner-woodwind.com.
You'll be up to your ears in ears at the Amazing Maize Maze, open through Nov. 1 at Cherry-Crest Farm in Ronks, Pa. Since you're in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, you can find your way out of the labyrinth (or get some assistance), then tour the countryside. Get an early start on hay-riding and pumpkin-picking. Info: 717-687-6843, www.cherrycrestfarm.com.
Do your leaf-peeping, then duck underground on a cavern tour of I-81 near the Virginia-West Virginia border. Descend below the surface at numerous spots, from Skyline Caverns (800-296-4545, www.skylinecaverns.com) in the north to Dixie Caverns (540-380-2085, www.dixiecaverns.com) in the south. And don't forget Luray (540-743-6551, www.luraycaverns.com), the big dog in these parts.
You don't have to be a du Pont -- or even a fan of chemicals -- to enjoy Winterthur, the industrialist's country estate in Delaware's Brandywine Valley. Tour the wonderland gardens and 175-plus period rooms. Or check up on the Joneses, or rather the Rockefellers, whose masterworks (Eakins, Hopper, O'Keeffe, etc.) will be on exhibit until February. Info: 800-448-3883, www.winterthur.org.
Don't say boo. Celebrate Halloween sweetly in Hershey, Pa. While some things do go bump in the night, Hersheypark's scarefest is more kid-friendly than other venues -- and you gotta love the free chocolate. Info: 800-HERSHEY, www.hersheypa.com.
Richmond is a-fright with more ghoulish events than you can scream at, including the Science Museum's "Frankenstein Lives!" show, the Boo Barn at Ashland Berry Farm and Mr. Macabre himself at the Edgar Allan Poe Museum. Spooky not your scene? Hop over to the Shockoe Slip neighborhood for no-chills shopping and dining. Info: 888-742-4666, www.visit.richmond.com.
For Veterans Day, honor WWII soldiers in Bedford, Va., which suffered the most D-Day losses per capita in the nation. Visit the National D-Day Memorial and the Bedford County Courthouse, with monuments honoring veterans of other wars. Info: 877-HI-PEAKS, www.visitbedford.com.
At Maryland's Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, see the tundra swans that alight during their winter migration. The flock can sometimes number in the thousands, so watch where you step. (If the birds are delayed, there are always bald eagles.) Info: 410-639-7056 or 877-477-9267 , easternneck.fws.gov/Wildlife/swan.html.
Stock up on your vintages -- and take a little sip yourself before the onslaught of Thanksgiving guests -- in Maryland wine country. Warm up with a glass of red or, at Boordy Vineyards in Baltimore County, try the Sunday harvest soups and hot Wassail. Info: 410-528-0027, www.marylandwine.com.