CITY, culture, seaside or the great outdoors? From the stunning autumn foliage of the legendary Blue Ridge Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean’s sunny shores, in the Capital Region you don’t need to decide on one particular type of holiday as you can enjoy them all – and much more. Covering 50,821 square miles (817,860 sq kms) and home to 13.7 million people, this diverse, three-in-one region combines the big-city excitement of presidential powerhouse Washington, DC with spectacular, wide-open spaces, small-town treasures and sweeping beaches in the neighbouring states of Maryland and Virginia. It’s also home to some of America’s most-significant historical sites and most-scenic driving routes.
Washington, DC: One of the world’s greatest capital cities, Washington, DC lies at the heart of the region, which makes it easy to organise a two- or three-centre holiday, spending a few days in DC at the beginning or end of a trip to Maryland and Virginia. As you explore DC, plug into the power of a city that makes history every day. Landmark monuments, memorials and museums rub shoulders with lively neighbourhoods, a sophisticated dining scene and a nightlife that’s second to none. A visit to one or more of the famous Smithsonian museums is a must, and with free entry, it’s no wonder the world’s largest museum complex is one of DC’s top attractions.
Virginia: Located midway between New York and Florida, Virginia is the gateway to the South. From the boardwalk and nightlife at Virginia Beach, the gentle Chesapeake shores and the remote, pristine beaches of Chincoteague, Tangier and the barrier islands to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in the west, Virginia is several holidays rolled into one. Quaint main street communities and exciting, cosmopolitan cities provide a soup to nuts experience including quiet rest and relaxation to energetic city-life. Hike the Appalachian Trail, shop for designer bargains at the outlets and dine at a trendy restaurant all in the same day.
Maryland: Maryland boasts a wealth of historical, cultural and tourist attractions and offers visitors the best of all four seasons and a host of year-round outdoor activities. Feel the pull of history looking out over the Civil War battlefields of Antietam or walking the storied docks of Annapolis. Sail the waters of the Chesapeake Bay; try your hand surfing, fishing or boating on some of the more than 4,000 miles of Maryland coastline and experience breathtaking views in the Allegheny Mountains. Baltimore enjoys a vibrant arts scene and the world-renowned Inner Harbor is surrounded by historic neighborhoods where you will find city living at its best with unique shops and restaurants for every style and taste. Pack your days with family fun – fill your nights with unforgettable entertainment.
The Capital Region’s diverse landscape accommodates everything from sunbathing along Maryland’s Eastern Shore to hiking through Virginia’s majestic Blue Ridge Mountains. One day might be spent exploring the rich history of Williamsburg or Annapolis, while the next evening is passed amid the lounges and bars lining Washington’s trendy U Street corridor. From vineyard tours and small-town treasures to boutique shopping and culinary delights, the possibilities for your USA holiday are endless. The variety you’ll find in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland guarantees a capital holiday every time.
10 GREAT REASONS TO VISIT:
1. THREE HOLIDAYS IN ONE: No matter which type of holiday you like – chic city break or country escape, mountain magic or beachside lounging – the three-in-one Capital Region comes up trumps. The variety you’ll find in Washington, DC, Virginia and Maryland guarantees a capital holiday every time.
2. HISTORY-MAKING: The Capital Region’s proud history is marked with inspiring memorials and landmarks. But history is made here every day, too. Come be a part of it.
3. MAGICAL MUSEUMS: Variety is the word when it comes to museums in the Capital Region. From spies to news and gallery walks to moon rocks, the exhibits on offer capture magical moments through the ages.
4. HIP AND HISTORIC NEIGHBORHOODS: The heart and soul of a destination can best be experienced in its neighbourhoods. Get out and discover for yourself what makes the Capital Region tick.
5. SMALL TOWN TREASURES: Main Street America is alive and well in the Capital Region. Here’s your chance to mix with the locals while discovering the small town charms of Virginia and Maryland.
6. SEASONAL CELEBRATIONS: From cherry blossom and wine festivals to baseball and horseracing, there’s a special event waiting no matter when you plan to visit.
7. THE GREEN SCENE: National parks and gardens make a visit to the Capital Region a sheer delight for visitors with green fingers, or those searching for spectacular natural scenery.
8. OCEANS OF FUN: Bask on the beach, kayak with dolphins or sail away from a harbour port – the Capital Region has it all. Relaxation and recreation are key when you head for the region’s waterways, beaches and Chesapeake Bay.
9. TRACKING THE PAST: The Capital Region is the birthplace of American railroading. You can take a scenic rail excursion, visit rail museums or travel around the region by Amtrak from its home base in Washington.
10. HITTING THE HIGHWAY: Take to the open road and explore the mountain highways and coastal byways of the Capital Region, refuelling on hearty American hospitality along the way. Check out this site’s self-drive itineraries that cover everything from wine to history to music.
BRIGHT LIGHTS, GREAT CITIES, BEAUTIFUL COUNTRYSIDE:
When it’s time to take a break for a bite to eat, Washington, DC has become one of the biggest restaurant towns in America, serving up a feast of flavours from around the world. Atmospheric Georgetown is a top dining spot and visitors should look out for late-afternoon, happy-hour deals.
Baltimore is a top city destination in Maryland. Just over an hour’s drive north from DC, the buzzing Inner Harbour, lined with hotels, shops, cafés and bars, is the city’s focal point. The harbour is close to attractions such as the National Aquarium – regarded as one of the best in America – and the enthralling American Visionary Art Museum, which showcases the work of untrained artists. Just a short boat ride away is Fells Point, the historic, cobbled neighbourhood that’s a legacy to Baltimore’s British nautical roots.
Seafaring Annapolis is capital of Maryland as well as being America’s ‘sailing capital’. It also boasts some of the country’s finest 17th- and 18th-century buildings.
Richmond, capital of Virginia, is famous for its distinctive neighbourhoods. Carytown, dubbed ‘the mile of style’, is lined with attractive shops, while Shockoe Slip, which began life as a 1600s trading post, is now über trendy, with tempting shops, art galleries and restaurants tucked into old tobacco warehouses.
When it’s time to talk US history, the Capital Region is where it all began. The first British settlers stepped ashore at Jamestown, part of Virginia’s historic triangle, in 1607 after a gruelling five-month voyage. The Jamestown Settlement brings this story to life through costumed interpreters, while, nearby in Colonial Williamsburg, visitors can immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of the 18th century at America’s largest outdoor history museum. The triangle’s third point is Yorktown, where the British surrender in 1781 signalled the end of the American War of Independence.
A century later, the Civil War also changed the face of history and left indelible footprints on the Capital Region, where most of the major battles were fought. Known as the ‘Mother of Presidents’, Virginia has produced eight US leaders and their homes open the door to more captivating tales of the past.
When it’s time to move outside, head for the hills along the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the many scenic, mountain-driving routes. It is celebrating its 75th anniversary and is justifiably described as ‘America’s favourite drive’. If you’d like a breath of sea air, Chesapeake Bay, home to verdant farmland and a rich maritime past, is a nature lover’s paradise. And, for plenty of fun in the sun, Virginia Beach is the world’s longest pleasure beach – and there’s always something going on along its three-mile boardwalk.
For a real taste of the region, don’t go home without trying the legendary crab cakes (every restaurant says it serves the best) or soft-shell crabs when they’re in season. And, with more than 170 wineries in Maryland and Virginia, many open for tours and tastings, you’ll never be short of the opportunity to sip a glass or two. With three exciting holiday destinations in one – and hundreds of things to do, see and experience – it really does add up to a Capital Region.
Airports: Two major international airports serve the Capital Region: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), 26 miles west of downtown Washington, DC in northern Virginia, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in Maryland, located 29 miles Northeast of Washington and 10 miles south of Baltimore. The MARC Train travels between BWI and downtown Washington’s Union Station Monday through Friday. Call us on 0844 80 444 80 - 7 days a week for flights into Washington Dulles and Baltimore, with our partner British Airways we can offer daily services into the region with excellent airfares. Individuals arriving in the Washington area from elsewhere in the USA may also use Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), conveniently located just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington in northern Virginia. Ronald Reagan is accessible by Metrorail, the greater Washington region’s rapid-transit system. Many smaller airports serve other cities in the region, including Richmond, Williamsburg, Norfolk, Roanoke, Lynchburg and Charlottesville.
Metrorail : Metrorail is the greater Washington, DC region’s rapid-transit system. Operating five different lines throughout the city and into the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, Metro is extremely easy to use. Each traveller is required to possess his or her own fare card, which are available for purchase at all Metro stations. Depending on the time of day and distance travelled, each journey will cost between $1.35 and $2.35. One-day Metro passes are also available for $7.80, and allow unlimited journeys from 9:30am until the Metro closes.
Taxi Cabs: Throughout the Capital Region’s urban centres, taxis are a convenient, popular form of transportation. Taxis can generally be hailed on the street, although it is a good idea to bring along the number of a local taxi company if visiting a more remote neighbourhood. Tipping taxi drivers is customary throughout the country and highly appreciated.
Car Rental : Although often unnecessary in urban areas like Washington or Baltimore, rental cars are an ideal way to explore the Virginia and Maryland countryside, which is spanned by major interstate highways and beautiful Scenic Byways. Call us on 0844 80 444 80 - 7 days a week for all your car hire needs, With our partner Alamo we can offer excellent car rental rates across the Capital Region.
Rail: Rail service is available throughout the Capital Region and beyond on the nationwide Amtrak system. With its hub at Washington, DC's Union Station, Amtrak's high speed Acela service provides multiple daily connections to Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston. Within the Capital Region itself, Amtrak offers “The Carolinian,” which serves Baltimore, BWI Airport, Washington, DC and the cities of Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Richmond and Petersburg in Virginia; “The Crescent,” which offers transportation between Baltimore, Washington, DC and the cities of Alexandria, Manassas, Culpeper, Charlottesville, Lynchburg and Danville in Virginia; and the “Northeast Regional,” offering service to Baltimore, BWI Airport, Washington, DC, Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Richmond and Williamsburg, terminating in Newport News, Virginia. A new line now offers service to Lynchburg, Virginia as well.
Virginia Railway Express provides commuter rail service weekdays between Fredericksburg and Manassas Virginia and downtown Washington, DC. The MARC (Maryland Area Regional Commuter) Train Service operates three lines throughout Maryland and downtown Washington, DC, with service available Monday through Friday.