20 Great Escapes: You Don't Have to Go Far to Have a Good Time

Sunday, February 3, 2008

We know how you feel. Too much work, too little money and not a whole lot of get-up- and-go to, uh, get up and go.

On the Escapes page each week in Wednesday's Style section, we provide ideas on ways for folks to unwind in spots less than four hours away by car. Here are 20 of our favorites, geared toward the kid/sportsman/couch potato in all of us. We've indicated on the map where our picks are within a 50-, 100-, 150- and 200-mile radius of D.C.

For more options, go to www.washingtonpost.com/escapes for an index of regional getaways.

Also, check with the tourism sites for Maryland (http://www.mdisfun.org), Virginia (http://www.virginia.org, West Virginia (http://www.wvtourism.com, Delaware (http://www.visitdelaware.com" target='new'>http://www.visitdelaware.com), New Jersey (http://www.nj.gov/travel) and Pennsylvania (http://www.visitpa.com).

1. Tour the Naval Academy. Ship off -- without conscripting -- to the U.S. Naval Academy, which offers 75-minute tours of its seaworthy facility in Annapolis. Info: 410-293-8687, http://www.navyonline.com.

2. Take a dive. For $295, Gaithersburg's Atlantic Edge scuba school will help you swim with the fishes at the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Info: 301-519-9283, http://www.atlanticedge.com.

3. Bike through the "French" countryside. Stick a baguette in your basket and do your best Lance Armstrong-on-holiday impression along the 120-mile bike route from Leesburg to Paris, Va. Info: 800-820-1021, http://www.fauquiertourism.com.

4. Eat, eat and eat. Save your calories for Easton, Md., a virtual Restaurant Row on the Eastern Shore. Info: 410-770-8000, http://www.tourtalbot.org.

5. Detour off the interstate. You've driven past the Interstate 95 exit for Newark, Del., but pull off and you'll find the lovely Colonial red-brick campus of the University of Delaware and a thriving nightlife. Info: 866-284-7483, http://www.visitdelaware.com.

6. Visit the other Vienna. Vienna, Md. -- nope, it's not a Freudian slip. The Eastern Shore destination has a Continental streak, with remnants of the Brit invasion and a market selling, yes, Vienna sausages. Info: 410-376-3442, http://www.viennamd.org.

7. Chop down a Christmas tree. You can pine for the holidays at the Sleepy Creek Tree Farm Bed and Breakfast (37 Shades Lane, 866-275-8303, http://www.maggiedot.com/sleepycreektree) in Berkeley Springs, W.Va., then head to one of the town's spas to unwind a bit. Info: 800-447-8797, http://www.berkeleysprings.com.

8. See a capitol improvement. In Richmond, tour the new and improved statehouse, which received a $104.5 million facelift worthy of a starlet. Info: 800-370-9004, http://www.visit.richmond.com.

9. Find an outlet for your wallet. Shop and drop your credit card at 140 tax-free outlet stores in Rehoboth, Del., a beachy town with a mean retail habit. Info: 302-227-2233 , http://www.beach-fun.com.

10. Luxe out. After a seven-year, $120 million renovation, the Bedford Springs Resort in Bedford, Pa., recently reopened, giving the Greenbrier and Homestead resorts a run for your money. Info: 866-623-8176, http://www.bedfordspringsresort.com.

11 Do some train-spotting. In Altoona, there's no wrong side of the tracks: The train viewing is great throughout this railroad-crazed Pennsylvania town. Info: 800-842-5866, http://www.alleghenymountains.com.

12. Drink a brew. When you're hankering for a Yuengling or want to see how it's made, Pottsville, Pa. -- also the home of author John O'Hara -- awaits. Info: Schuylkill County Visitors Bureau, 800-765-7282, http://www.schuylkill.org.

13. Go for a walk. The campus of Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va., encompasses more than 3,000 acres replete with lakes and nature sanctuaries. And don't forget the museums, the galleries, the haunted house . . . Info: 434-381-6100, http://www.sbc.edu.

14. Hang 10. New Jersey's Long Beach Island is surfers' turf. Rent a board from one of the shops along the main route or take a lesson and learn to ride the swells like a pro. Info: 609-494-7211, http://www.discoversouthernocean.com.

15. Party with the Mountaineers. Morgantown, W.Va., is home to West Virginia University, named the country's biggest party school in 2007. Stay up till midnight and you can hear "Country Roads" in every bar. Info: 800-458-7373, http://www.tourmorgantown.com.

16. Get smart. At the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., kids can pick a giant nose, put on hardhats and walk a steel beam or catch a flick on the Martian land probes. Info: 201-200-1000, http://www.lsc.org.

17. Paddle the day away. Dip and sip on SouthEast Expeditions' wine and kayak adventure off the southern tip of Virginia's Eastern Shore. Take landfall on Cape Charles, a very chill town. Info: 877-22-KAYAK, http://www.sekayak.com.

18. Sleep with the dinos. The American Museum of Natural History in New York hosts the T.rex of sleepovers, transforming its galleries into an adventure-park-cum-dorm-room. Info: 212-769-5200, http://www.amnh.org.

19. Pay your respects. Venture to Bedford, Va., and you can take a tour of the National D-Day Memorial, set on 88 acres and featuring a 44-foot arch. Info: 877-447-3257, http://www.visitbedford.com.

20. Have an "Office" break. NBC's "The Office" is set in Scranton, Pa., and it doesn't take too much work to uncover some of the sites featured on the show. Info: 800-229-3526, http://www.visitnepa.org.

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