Kay Rodriguez


There are many ways to relax and unwind after a long week, but one of the best and most rejuvenating is by treating yourself to a day at the spa. But if you’re going to drop a bunch of money on a spa experience, you definitely want to make sure it has the perfect ambience and services to match your preferences. Whether you live in Washington DC or are just here on a weekend getaway, here are 5 spas in Washington DC that are sure to leave you feeling pampered and rejuvenated.

The 5 Best Spas in Washington DC

Argentta Spa at the Watergate

With its modern decor and high-end treatments, the Argentta Spa at the Watergate (yes, that Watergate Hotel) is definitely one of the best Washington DC spas on our list. Here, the spa offers a wide variety of services, from massages to facials to body wraps and more.

Low lights and mild scents welcome you into their spacious facility, where refreshments are available to guests throughout the entirety of their stay. If you book a spa treatment, you are entitled to use the saltwater swimming pool, the saunas, and their Vitamin C showers free of charge afterward.

Why we love it: Everything about the Argentta experience is thoughtful, from the cozy, blanketed waiting area to the champagne and macarons waiting for you once your treatment is over. The staff is courteous and the facilities are modern and clean. For those on a bit tighter of a budget, there are happy hour services at discounted prices.

How to book an appointment: You can book an appointment online.

The Petite Spa at The Jefferson Hotel

With its stunning home in one of Washington DC’s poshest hotels, the Petite Spa at The Jefferson is one of the most luxurious and opulent spas in the Washington DC area. The Petite Spa facility features white and cream colors to provide a comfortable and relaxing environment for all guests.

The Petite Spa is known for its wine therapy massages and uses imported flowers and herbs from Europe in its treatments. Best of all, if you’re hoping to make your stay an entire weekend of luxury, you can book a room at the Jefferson Hotel and enjoy one of its top-notch dining options.

What we love about it: The simple menu makes it easy to choose from their curated handful of massages, facials, and express treatments. To seal the deal, the herbal treatments they use smell incredible. After each massage or spa treatment, the spa staff also provides an array of post-treatment refreshments.

How to book an appointment: You can book your spa treatment(s) online or by calling the Petite Spa at (202) 448-3270.

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spas in Washington DC massage
Who wouldn’t want a relaxing spa massage? Photo Source: Max Pixel

Unwind Wellness Center in Adams Morgan and Georgetown

With two locations to choose from, in Adams Morgan and in Georgetown, Unwind Wellness is one of the best spas in Washington DC for busy people on the go. Washington City Paper has acclaimed Unwind Wellness Center to be one of the absolute best spas in town.

When you walk through the doors at Unwind Wellness Center, you can’t help but…well…unwind. Mid-century decor and cozy accents make it an inviting and comforting atmosphere. You can choose from a variety of relaxing treatments, from massages to facials, and even acupuncture! The Georgetown location also has a sauna for even more unwinding after your treatments.

What we love about it: This spa is perfect for a young professional who wants to escape the stress of the corporate world without shelling out too much cash. The services are fantastic, and with the two locations, it’s convenient to get there from almost anywhere. It’s easy to get an appointment at Unwind Wellness Center, and the price is a great value given the professionalism and beautiful interior of the place.

How to book an appointment: You can book an appointment online or call Unwind at (202) 232-2232.

The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Georgetown

Ready to get treated like absolute royalty at one of Washington DC’s nicest hotels? Head to the Ritz Carlton Spa in Georgetown for one of the most opulent and relaxing treatments that will leaving you feeling on top of the world. The Ritz-Carlton spa is one of our favorites because of its high-end ambience, including a cozy fireplace and light fragrance. It was also recently renovated to feel even more modern.

The spa offers massages, facials, body wraps, men-specific treatments, and other services (you can see the full menu here). You can mix and match treatments or pair them with a stay in a guest room inside of the spa! It’s no wonder the Ritz-Carlton Spa is one of DC’s favorites.

What we love about it: It really feels like you’re stepping into your own royal palace here. All of the details and touches are very thoughtful, including the decor’s muted colors and the cozy waiting areas. The treatments are some of the best and most varied out of any of the Washington DC spas on our list.

How to book an appointment: You can book your appointment online or by calling (202) 912-4175.

spas in Washington DC
Photo Source: Pixabay CC

Aura Spa

With several locations around the Washington DC city limits, the Aura Spa is one of the most beloved spas in Washington DC. With services including massages, waxing, and facial treatments, you can pick and choose your treatment to best suit your trouble areas. There’s also a sauna available to spa guests.

One of their specialties at Aura Spa is the microcurrent facials. These use red LED lights that help reduce the appearance of aging on the face. The treatment is said to tighten the skin of the face and eliminate wrinkles and signs of aging.

What we love about it: Even though it is located in a busy neighborhood, the atmosphere inside is tranquil and quiet. It’s also significantly less expensive than many spas in Washington DC, without a decrease in quality of services. Many reviewers describe it as a “Ritz Carlton experience without the price tag.”

How to book an appointment: Appointments are very easy to book through either their website or the location-specific phone lines.

Washington DC Travel Tips

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Full of business executives, government workers, and young professionals, Washington DC is the place to be these days. Where you stay in the city will greatly influence your perception of the city’s vibes and personality, so it’s important to choose wisely. With dozens of different neighborhoods and areas to explore, it can be difficult to decide where to stay in Washington DC. To help you find the perfect accommodation option for your budget, we’ve compiled our suggestions below.

Where to Stay in Washington DC: Our Recommendations

Where to Stay in Washington DC
The St. Regis Hotel in Washington DC (Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Luxury Hotels

1. The St. Regis

Opulent, elaborate, and totally classy, the St. Regis DC is everything you want in a cosmopolitan luxury hotel and more. Upon walking into the lobby, you’ll be greeted with gold-embellished decor, plush red velvet furniture, courteous staff, and a swarm of people indulging in high tea or sipping on cocktails at the St. Regis Bar. The St. Regis is just steps away from the White House, and a short walk from the National Mall and many of DC’s best museums and monuments.

The guest rooms are bright and beautifully decorated with gorgeous velvet and wood touches. For travelers needing a slightly larger space, the hotel offers a handful of spacious suites as well. While there, don’t forget to join the staff for their evening champagne toast – a true St. Regis tradition!

Address: 923 16th and K Streets, Washington, DC 20006, United States
Book Now: You can book the St. Regis here or on

2. The Four Seasons Georgetown

Boasting their reign as DC’s first and only five-star, five-diamond hotel (that’s a lot of shiny things!), the Four Seasons Hotel is one of Washington’s finest hotel properties. This monumental hotel has played host to many high profile guests over the years, including domestic and international politicians and diplomats.

In addition to its luxurious guest rooms and friendly staff, the Four Seasons also has fine in-house dining options, a spa and fitness center, and more. Located near Georgetown University, the Four Seasons offers easy access to the Kennedy Center, the Potomac River waterfront, and dozens of shops and dining options in the charming neighborhood of Georgetown.

Address: 2800 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Book Now: You can book The Four Seasons here or on

3. The Jefferson Hotel

Located across from the National Geographic museum and offices, The Jefferson Hotel is a DC classic five star establishment. Sparkling, white decor, marble busts with determined expressions, and an overall regal ambience invite guests as they enter this upscale property. Not only is it a quiet and comfortable oasis from the bustle of DC’s busy streets, but it’s just a short walk from most main attractions in the city.

In addition to beautiful, cozy guest rooms, the hotel has three dining areas to enjoy. Enjoy lunch in a bright, open space reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland at The Greenhouse, or grab an Old Fashioned and some olives at Quill, the hotel’s bar. If fine dining is more up your alley, you can enjoy the tasting menu and wine pairings at the Jefferson’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Plume.

Address: 1200 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Book Now: You can book The Jefferson here or on

4. The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown

Also located in Georgetown, the Ritz Carlton Georgetown (one of two Ritz Carltons in Washington DC) is a beautiful luxury development near Georgetown’s waterfront. As with the entirety of the Ritz-Carlton chain, you’re sure to have a luxurious and comfortable stay here. Built into a historic brick building, it has the perfect aura of history and modernity within its walls.

The rooms boast clean and bright designs with all of the Ritz’s typical amenities, including a bathrobe and fine toiletry products. But perhaps the most luxurious thing of all is the proximity of the hotel to all of the wonderful things Georgetown has to offer.

Address: 3100 South Street NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA
Book Now: You can book The Ritz Carlton Georgetown here or on

Pride Lights
The Line Hotel in DC. Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering (Flickr CC)

Trendy Boutique Hotels

5. The Line DC

A hotel-gone-local hangout, The Line DC is a beautiful and modern hotel located just outside of the Dupont Circle area. As it’s situated across from the main street in one of the liveliest neighborhoods in the city, it’s the perfect vantage point for nightlife in the city.

With stylish, bright rooms with touches of metallics and bright colors, The Line is best tailored to young professionals or design lovers. The Line feels pretty posh and upscale, but at an affordable price point, it’s accessible to most travelers heading to the city.

Address: 1770 Euclid St NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
Book Now: You can book The Line DC here or on

6. Hotel Hive

You might pass by Hotel Hive on the street and think it’s a local social club or an upscale apartment building. But no, my friends, it’s actually a loft-style boutique hotel that YOU can stay in! Within 10 minutes walking distance to sights the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, and Georgetown, it’s the perfect nest for a trip to Washington DC.

Hotel Hive’s rooms are a cross between a renovated factory and a cute loft apartment, with exposed brick walls, bronze furnishings, and creative decor. While the rooms are a bit smaller than the other hotels on this list, they have a spacious and urban-esque feel.

Address: 2224 F St NW, Washington, DC 20037
Book Now: You can book Hotel Hive here or on

7. The Graham

Despite being owned by Hilton, from an ambience perspective, The Graham Hotel defines “boutique hotel.” Named after Alexander Graham Bell, this hotel embodies the essence of its namesake in its timelessness and innovative hospitality. Situated in Georgetown, it is accessible to a variety of shops and drink options and an easy bus ride or taxi into the main parts of the city.

The rooms are very modern and feel spacious, with colored patterns and subtle touches. Room options range from simple two full beds up to a luxury king bed suite, and the bathrooms feature sparkling marble counters. For the entertainers out there, the hotel boasts a cocktail cellar and speakeasy, alongside a rooftop lounge with a gorgeous view of the city.

Address: 1075 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Book Now: You can book The Graham Hotel here or on

8. St. Gregory Hotel

Located in Dupont Circle, the St. Gregory Hotel is one of our favorites on this list for one reason: it’s really well-designed. An inviting lobby with wood paneling and beautiful decor welcomes visitors into their upscale boutique property. There’s even a 360-degree fireplace here, perfect for winter trips to Washington DC. The hotel also features a nightly wine event for guests and a bar that serves amazing oysters and charcuterie.

There are a wide variety of beautifully-designed rooms from studios to full apartments, and they even offer complimentary dog beds for visiting furry family members.

Address: 2033 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Book Now: You can book the St. Gregory Hotel here or on

9. AKA White House

Unfortunately the White House doesn’t allow overnight guests, but AKA White House does! This chic hotel was designed by an NYC firm that has worked on some of the best restaurants in New York, and the thoughtful touches around the hotel really show. Two blocks away from the White House, AKA White House provides easy access to the National Mall, the Smithsonian museums, and many of the city’s beautiful monuments.

Unlike many hotel rooms, AKA White House actually seeks to provide guests with a home-like experience. In-room amenities include a full kitchen and appliances. A rooftop lounge with stunning city views and the White House is available to guests year-round.

Address: 1710 H St NW, Washington, DC 20006, USA
Book Now: You can book AKA White House here or on

Hamilton Hotel Washington DC
The Hamilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Photo Credit: Streets of Washington (Flickr CC)

Budget Hotels

10. The Madison Hotel

Centrally located and comfortable, The Madison Hotel is a popular hotel with business travelers in downtown Washington DC. Located on 15th Street NW, The Madison is a short walk from the National Mall and the Washington Monument. To make guests feel more at home here, there’s a free wine happy hour on weekdays perfect for socializing or relaxing after a long day on the town.

Inside, the hotel boasts a trendy, modern design and spacious rooms. Amenities include a fitness center, conference rooms, and an on-site restaurant. The Madison has the perfect location and value for a fabulous stay in Washington DC.

Address: 1177 15th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA
Book Now: You can book The Madison here or on

11. Pod DC Hotel

If you’re wondering where to stay in Washington DC without breaking the bank, Pod DC Hotel should be the first place that comes to mind. It’s youthful, friendly, and totally affordable. Located in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area, the hotel’s biggest draw is its proximity to the main DC sights and the airport, as well as its fantastic value. The Pod DC Hotel is walkable to most of the central things to do in Washington DC.

The rooms here are intentionally small and ‘Pod-like,’ but the details really do help to maximize these cozy space. Rooms at the Pod are amazingly comfortable and – unlike the “capsule” style hotels around the world – have all of the amenities you’d expect from a hotel. Around the hotel’s public spaces, guests can admire colorful and vibrant artwork and design.

Address: 627 H St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
Book Now: You can book Pod DC Hotel here or on

12. Kimpton Rouge Hotel

Located in one of DC’s most vibrant neighborhoods, the Kimpton Rouge Hotel is the budget-friendly option for a comfortable stay in a more local atmosphere. To welcome your entrance to the hotel, there are dozens of Venus statues on the street leading up to the door.

The hotel is full of red accents (hence the rouge) and quaint artwork, which contribute to the bold design of its otherwise cozy public spaces. Rooms boast large windows, eccentric red designs, and plenty of space for relaxing or sleeping.

Address: 1315 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20036, USA
Book Now: You can book the Kimpton Rouge here or on

13. The Hamilton Hotel

With a prime location right next to the Washington Post, The Hamilton Hotel is one of the most affordable hotels that’s close to the White House and the National Mall. Much like its namesake, it’s bold and has really made a name for itself in the city. With a restaurant and a spacious lobby area, it’s perfect for groups or couples hoping to get right into the middle of all DC has to offer.

The Hamilton has a regal feel on the outside that’s paralleled by its interiors. With modern rooms and amenities, it provides a cozy place to rest your head, even if just for a few hours in between long days exploring the city.

Address: 1001 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005, USA
Book Now: You can book The Hamilton here or on

14. The District by Hilton Club

The District by Hilton Club is a great value option located north of Dupont Circle near many of the city’s embassies. It’s a beloved choice by travelers – especially families – who are visiting Washington DC and want a spacious offering in a central location. In typical Hilton fashion, the hotel boasts modern, cozy rooms with typical hotel amenities and free WiFi.

Book Now: You can book The District here or on

DC Hostel
HI – Washington DC Hostel. Photo Credit: javacolleen (Flickr CC)

Hostels, Apartment Rentals, & Other Backpacker Options

15. HighRoad Hostel & Suites

If you want a quintessential Washington DC experience without the price tag of a historic hotel, try HighRoad Hostel, which was built in a classic DC row house. Located in Adams Morgan, visitors can experience this trendy young neighborhood with a huge selection of some of the city’s best bars and restaurants. To get to the main attractions of the city, you can take a short bus ride or rent a bike from Capital Bikeshare.

The hostel boasts inexpensive dorm rooms with memory foam mattresses, perfect for resting after long days out walking in the city. With raving reviews from many former guests, it’s a fantastic option for the traveler on a budget or solo travelers who want to meet new people for a night out on the town.

Address: 1804 Belmont Rd NW, Washington, DC 20009, USA
To Book: You can book HighRoad Hostel here or on

16. Hosteling International – DC

The HI – Washington DC Hostel is one of the most well-known and centrally-located hostel in the city. Walkable to the White House, Chinatown, and the National Mall, it’s also easily accessible by public transportation too. Convenient location. As with most hostels, they offer dorm style rooms with twin beds and a few private suite options for couples or travelers who want a bit more privacy at a budget price.

Address: 1009 11th St NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
To Book:
You can book HI Hostel DC here or on

17. Airbnb

Needless to say, Airbnb is one of the best ways to stay in a comfortable place without spending an arm and a leg, and let’s be real: some of the apartments on there are REALLY nice! One of the biggest perks about Airbnb is that many come with access to a kitchen, meaning you can save money on accommodation costs as well as dining out. If you’re a budget traveler looking for a little more comfort than a dorm bed in a hostel, Airbnb is the perfect option.

To Book: Use this link to save $40 off your first booking with Airbnb!

Not Sure About Any of The Options Here?

That’s okay. Luckily, there are hundreds of hotels and places to stay in Washington DC! Click on the button below to browse that various accommodations and price points this vast city has to offer.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Washington DC

Featured image: Pixabay (Source)

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One of the things Washington DC is most famous for is its world-class museums and exhibits. According to some sources, there are over 100 museums in the city! Tourists flock from all over the United States (and the world) to visit the amazing museums and galleries that are open in Washington DC. But what if I told you that there are DOZENS of free museums in Washington DC that you can visit on any day of the week?

Yeah, I know. It’s pretty magical.

When I first moved to Washington DC, I had no idea that many of the incredible museums in Washington DC don’t charge an admission fee. When I found this out, my mind was blown. So now, dear reader, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite free museums in Washington DC so you can keep that extra cash in your pocket (or spend it at happy hour).

The Top 21 Free Museums in Washington DC: A Guide

History & Science Museums

Smithsonian Castle & Parterre
Photo Credit: Robert Lyle Bolton (Flickr CC)

The Smithsonian Castle

This beautiful, brick castle on the National Mall serves not only as a beautiful piece of eye candy for DC’s city center, but also as an information center and exhibit hall for ALL of the Smithsonian Museums. If you didn’t know, all of the Smithsonian museums in Washington DC are free (but we’ll get to that later).

Year round, the Castle serves as a center for planning your trip to the rest of the Smithsonian Museums, including little samplers of what you can expect to find in each one. There are also rotating exhibits in the building, which span from photography to history exhibits and more.

Address: 1000 Jefferson Dr SW, Washington, DC 20560
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-1000 or by email at

National Museum of Natural History - Ocean - HDR (handheld)
Photo Credit: m01229 (Flickr CC)

The Museum of Natural History

One of my favorite museums in Washington DC, the Museum of Natural History is sure to bring out your curiosity of the amazing wildlife and plants the world has to offer. With full-sized dinosaur skeleton replicas and plenty of animal and plant specimens (taxonomy and alive), there’s no shortage of things to see and explore here.

Some of my favorite exhibits include the Hope Diamond, Lucy, and of course, the dinosaurs. But before I give too much away, I’ll leave you to wonder about what those things actually are until you go visit the museum yourself!

Address: 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-1000

Retired Orbiter
Photo Credit: Bill Dickinson (Flickr CC)

National Air & Space Museum

Were you one of those kids who dreamed of being an astronaut when you grew up? Or one who enjoyed learning about physics, meteorology, or astronomy? Well then, you’ll be sure to have a field day at the National Air & Space Museum, a museum totally dedicated to the exploration of our atmosphere and universe.

This museum is not only perfect for the former science nerd in you, but it’s also fantastic for kids because of the sheer number of interactive and hands-on exhibits. Live demonstrations in the museum help kids learn about physics, and there are many rooms full of activities just waiting to be taken advantage of.

Address: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-2214

think about what you saw
Photo Credit: NC in DC (Flickr CC)

Holocaust Memorial Museum

DC’s Holocaust Memorial Museum is a somber and moving museum that centers around the history and events of the Holocaust during WWII. Photos, artifacts, and immersive exhibits are sure to leave you well-educated about the horrifying events of the Holocaust. It’s a building full of sights, smells, and a lot of feelings, but it’s one whose cause is incredibly important to revisit and remember for generations to come.

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024
Contact: (202) 488-0400

Smithsonian Museum of American History - Washington, DC
Photo Credit: Josh Hallett (Flickr CC)

National Museum of American History

How much do you actually know about American History? It’s much more than your 8th grade textbook might have you believe. Saddle up and get ready for a ride through all of the United States’ history, from the early settlements of Native Americans all the way to modern history.

Honestly, I never fancied learning about American History when I was growing up, but after visiting this awesome museum, I found myself fascinated by it. You could spend an entire day here just reading, looking at preserved artifacts, and watching the videos about various aspects of American History.

Address: 1300 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-3270

The National Musuem of the American Indian
Photo Credit: Bart (Flickr CC)

National Museum of the American Indian

Not only is the National Museum of the American Indian the National Mall’s most beautiful building, but it’s also one of my absolute favorites. This museum focuses not only on the history and customs of indigenous groups in the United States, but also across North, Central, and South America. Spread throughout the museum’s many floors are artifacts, traditional garments, information, and videos that detail what we know about each indigenous group.

In the various times I’ve been to the National Museum of the American Indian, I’ve seen exhibits on the Cherokees and the Incas in one day. I love that this museum allows me to get to know a variety of indigenous groups and ‘travel the world’ while I’m in my own city.

Address: 4th St SW & Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560
Contact: By email at

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture

As one of the newest free museums in Washington DC, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is a gorgeously-curated collection of African American history in the United States, starting with the dark days of slavery to Jim Crow Laws to the Civil Rights Movement to Black Lives Matter. It’s a refreshingly honest look at the journey of African Americans through time and space.

The museum doesn’t just address slavery and civil rights; it also focuses on the role of many influential black figures across American history. There are exhibits on the upper floors about the role of African Americans in American sports, music, art, and culture as well.

Due to high demand for the NMAAHC, you must reserve a free ticket online in advance. You will have an assigned entrance time for the museum during which you are free to enter and explore the various exhibits in the building. If you’re in DC and did not reserve a ticket, you can also check same-day availability at exactly 6:30 AM to try and secure a day-of ticket, but it is not guaranteed.

Address: 1400 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-1000

Nature & Wildlife

National Zoo
Photo Credit: angela n. (Flickr CC)

National Zoo

There are few places more fun or cheerful in Washington DC than the National Zoo, which is also run by the Smithsonian. Home to cuddly pandas, curious giraffes, and many, many other beautiful animals, the zoo is the place to go if you want to admire the amazing variety of nature. Here, you can also learn about many endangered animals and how the zoo is working to help preserve many of these fragile species.

Address: 3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Contact: (202) 633-4888

United States Botanic Garden

The Botanic Garden is kind of like DC’s version of Alice in Wonderland, because each room has something surprising and colorful to explore. This building near the Capitol is full of all kinds of tropical plants. There are also all kinds of art installations and lights that change throughout the seasons.

One of the best things about the Botanic Garden is that, because it’s a greenhouse, it’s a year-round plant exhibit that’s just as vibrant in the middle of the winter as it is in the summer!

Address: 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001
Contact: By phone at (202) 225-8333

National Arboretum

One of the most beautiful museum areas in Washington DC isn’t a building at all – it’s a park. The National Arboretum is an outdoor garden area that’s dedicated to educating visitors about the various local plant life in the area. There are many walking trails and benches to hang out on, and it’s the only “museum” on our list that’s dog-friendly!

A “living museum” of sorts, the National Arboretum obviously has a variety of trails and plants, but only one central “exhibit” – the old Capitol pillars. Brought to the park in the 1980s, the Capitol pillars are some of the most iconic DC landmarks and stand out remarkably against the fields and forests of the rest of the arboretum. During the spring, visitors can walk around the park and admire the blooming flowers with the backdrop of the pillars and it’s pretty magical, to say the least.

Address: 3501 New York Ave NE, Washington, DC 20002
Contact: (202) 245-2726

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Art Museums

National Gallery of Art
Photo Credit: Rob (Flickr CC)

The National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is the central art museum in Washington DC, and it’s full of hundreds of works from various time periods and styles, including some by Degas and DaVinci. There’s also an adjacent sculpture garden with several interesting works, that also hosts free live music in the summertime on Friday afternoons.

Address: 6th and Constitution Avenue NW Washington, DC 20565
Contact: By phone at (202) 737-4215

Belief + Doubt
Photo Credit: jpellgen (Flickr CC)

Hirshhorn Museum

One of the most offbeat museums on this list, the Hirshhorn Museum is a national museum of contemporary art and, as in most modern art museums, there are a lot of strange things to see here. Many of the exhibits are politically-infused and some are just flat-out wild, but there are always bright and complex visual treats to be discovered here. To make things even stranger, the building is shaped like a donut and houses the exhibits in its rounded hallways.

Address: Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW, Washington, DC 20560
Hours: 10 AM-5:30 PM daily
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-1000

Blind Whino SW Arts Club

While we’re on the topic of strange museums, here’s another one for you: Blind Whino, the abandoned church-gone-art gallery and workshop. It’s only kind of a museum, because the majority of the building space is actually used for events, shows, and demonstrations. However, there’s a small free art gallery open on certain days of the week that has rotating exhibits by local artists. The works here at Blind Whino are different than anything else you can find in the city.

You can check here for what’s currently on display at the gallery or here for upcoming events.

Address: 700 Delaware Ave SW, Washington, DC 20024
Gallery Hours: Wednesday 5-8 PM, Saturday and Sunday 12-5 PM
Contact: By phone at (202) 554-0103

National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery houses paintings of all of the United States presidents, plus several other influential figures in the history of the United States. Some of the most recent additions include the portrait of former President Barack Obama and, separately, one of his wife, Michelle.

Address: 8th and F Streets NW Washington, DC 20001
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-8300

Cross the Hall
Photo Credit: Geoff Livingston (Flickr CC)

American Art Museum & Renwick Gallery

If you’re interested in seeing some of the finest works from the United States, look no further than the American Art Museum. Here there are several exhibits across two floors that range in topic and time period.

The Renwick Gallery is an annex of the Museum of American Art, and is home to seasonal special rotating exhibits. The exhibits range from fine are to fairly psychedelic, depending on the time of year. You can check what the latest exhibit is on their website.

Address: Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street NW Washington, DC 20006
Contact: By phone at (202) 633-7970

Historic Buildings, Homes, & Gardens

Capitol (Washington)
Photo Credit: Alberto Ceballos (Flickr CC)

The Capitol Building

Many people are surprised that the Capitol Building allows visitors and is open to the public. To that I say: take advantage of it! You can have the chance to see where many important decisions for our country are made, and best of all…it’s free!

All you have to do is show up at the building and request a tour, or make an advanced reservation online

Address: First St SE, Washington, DC 20004
Contact: By phone at (202) 226-8000

White House
Photo Credit: Patrick Muller (Flickr CC)

The White House

While in DC, you can visit a living museum that allows you to walk where presidents past have walked. Yes, you guessed it: much like the Capitol, you can schedule a free tour of the White House! During the tour, you can see many of the various rooms in the White House, such as the Family Theater, the Blue Room and the State Dining Room. And, if it’s the season, you can also add on a Garden Tour on top.

To schedule a White House tour, you must request an invitation 21 or more days in advance from your local Member of Congress (either the House or the Senate). For more information and instructions on how to schedule a tour, visit the official website.

Address: 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500
Contact: N/A

Photo Credit: Ken White / IIP Photo Archive (Flickr CC)

Old Stone House

As the capital city’s oldest home, the Old Stone House in Georgetown may be one of the most unique free museums in Washington DC. It’s a fairly small home, but free guides in the house can give you special information about the people who lived there and the different purposes that the house served over the years. The Old Stone House is a designated historic site under the US National Park Service.

Address: 3051 M St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Contact: N/A

US Bureau of Engraving and Printing

The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing is exactly what it sounds like: the place where money is made. This institution is where dollars have been manufactured throughout American history, and you can see just how they do it on a guided tour of the facility.

To register for a tour, you must claim a free ticket at the Roaul Wallenburg Place SW. There are a limited number of tickets each day, so if you’re planning on going, be sure to get there early.

Address: 301 14th St SW, Washington, DC 20228
Contact: By phone at (866) 874-2330 or by email at

interior library of congress details
Photo Credit: Mario Antonio Pena Zapateria (Flickr CC)

Library of Congress

Located behind the Capitol, the Library of Congress is home to some of Washington DC’s most beautiful interiors and exhibits, and they’re completely free and open to the public. Here, in addition to a *real* library, there are rotating exhibits and various guided tours of the premises, including the Jefferson Building. There’s also a large Reading Room where you can sit for hours, reading and people watching at one of the most influential buildings in the United States.

Address: 101 Independence Ave SE, Washington, DC 20540
Contact: By phone at (202) 707-5000

Record Keeper
Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk (Flickr CC)

National Archives

If you’ve ever been curious about where they keep all of those important documents that, you know, served as the foundation for our entire country, then look no further! Many of them are on display at the National Archives Museum. While there are many Archives facilities around the Metro DC area, the main one is downtown, just off the National Mall.

Here, every day, you can go to see documents like the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. There are also rotating exhibits that have other important official documents that have played a significant role throughout history.

Address: 700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001
Contact: By phone at (866) 272-6272 or by email at

Travel Tips for Washington DC

Getting to Washington DC

By Air

There are three major airports in the Washington DC metropolitan area: Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD) , and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI). All major airlines in the United States fly to at least one of these airports. The most accessible airport from the city is Reagan National, which is about 20 minutes from the city center on the blue or yellow metro lines.

To find the best flight deals, we use and recommend Skyscanner and CheapoAir.

By Ground Transportation

If you’re coming from somewhere else on the East Coast, there are trains and buses that will bring you from most major nearby cities to Union Station. Amtrak services the passenger trains, and prices vary greatly depending on where you’re coming from. Greyhound and MegaBus both operate several bus lines that arrive in Washington DC as well.

Where to Stay in Washington DC

The best and most beautiful hotel in town, hands down, is the St. Regis. Located just steps away from the White House, this beautiful and gold-embellished luxury hotel has a very classic feel. If you’re feeling extra snazzy, opt for one of their suites, and don’t forget to join the staff in the lobby for their daily evening champagne toast.

For mid-range travelersThe Line DC hotel in Adams Morgan offers chic, spacious rooms at a good price, and their lobby is one of the locals’ cool hangout spots.

Budget travelers will find the best bang for their buck either at HighRoad Hostel or in a locally-owned Airbnb. (You can click this link to save $40 off your first Airbnb booking!)

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Washington DC

Featured image by m01229 (Flickr CC)

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You might not think about the United States capital as a cold weather getaway, but you might be surprised: there are actually a lot of wonderful things to do in Washington DC in the winter. Besides being an accessible winter getaway for East Coast dwellers, there are also tons of activities that will surprise and delight even the most skeptical of locals. To help convince you to put on pants and explore Washington DC in the winter, we’ve compiled 35 amazing things you can do in DC between November and February.

Top Things to Do in Washington DC in Winter

National Menorah Washington DC USA 50587
Photo Credit: Ted Eytan (Flickr CC)

Holiday Lights & Celebrations

1. Watch the National Tree Lighting Ceremony at the White House. This is an annual ceremony that happens in late November that officially kicks off all of the city’s holiday festivities.
(2018 National Tree Lighting Ceremony date: November 28)

2. …or enjoy the lighting of the National Menorah. Separately from the national tree, there’s also a national menorah that sits on the White House ellipse. There’s a lighting ceremony for this as well that typically occurs in early December.
(2018 Menorah Ceremony date: December 2)

3. Admire the various city holiday decorations. All around the city there are many different light exhibits to explore. The Botanical Garden, the Library of Congress, Union Station, and the Capitol all boast holiday decorations that will get you in the winter spirit.

4. Check out the holiday-themed international festivals around the city. You can travel around the world without leaving DC! For example, there’s a German Market, a Swedish Christmas Bazaar, and a Russian Winter Festival to enjoy, among many other smaller international celebrations.

5. Partake in the embassy holiday parties. All year round, there are events at the international embassies around the city, and YOU’RE INVITED! Check this page for events during the holiday season at the various embassies.

6. Enjoy the spectacle at the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Channel your inner seafarer and head to Alexandria for the annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, which is exactly what it sounds like: a fanfare of boats decked out in holiday lights.

7. Wander through ZooLights. What’s better than seeing animals AND lights at the same time? ZooLights, that’s what. It’s one of DC’s most romantic night time events during the winter, and trust me, it’s worth bundling up for.

white-gravenor hall
Photo Credit: ehpien (Flickr CC)

Shopping and Neighborhood Activities

8. Head to charming Old Town Alexandria for the cutest winter area ever. Alexandria won #4 for most charming towns in the United States this year…need I say more?

9. Be dazzled by City Center’s gorgeous winter displays. City Center is one of DC’s most shiny and sleek walking areas, and during the winter, it’s decked out in all kinds of ornaments and sparkly goodness.

10. Window shop in Georgetown. No, we don’t have a Fifth Avenue in Washington DC, but the next best thing is Georgetown’s retail district, which becomes a fun and festive place to bundle up, grab a chai latte, and window shop in the wintertime.

11. Check out Georgetown GLOW. Alternatively, if you’re in Georgetown in the evening, head toward the canals for a beautiful, somewhat psychedelic winter light show.

12. Stroll through Georgetown University’s empty campus. One of the most beautiful campuses in the city, if not the country, is Georgetown’s. Usually, it’s teeming with students, but in December, you can find it almost completely empty as the students have gone home for the holidays. It’s eerie yet beautiful.

13. Take a day trip to one of the wonderful landmarks and sights nearby. There are tons of day trips you can do from DC to nearby sights and cities like Mount Vernon, Fredericksburg, or Annapolis.

14. Celebrate the New Year. New Years festivities in DC are a hoot, and you’d be missing out if you didn’t partake in any of them. Here’s a complete list of public Washington DC parties and events to celebrate the New Year.

15. Enjoy the cheer at the Downtown Holiday Market. Did you feel like you were missing out on the European-style holiday market cheer? DC’s got one of its own that’s ready to welcome you with cute stalls, warm drinks, pretty lights, and over-the-top festivities.

The Spirit of Autumn
Photo Credit: Victoria Pickering (Flickr CC)

Escape the Cold (Awesome Indoor Activities)

16. Escape the cold at an indoor art gallery. There are several we’d recommend in DC, but our favorites are Artechouse, Dupont Underground, and Blind Whino.

17. Tour through Washington DC’s historic homes. There are many historic homes scattered throughout the city that you can visit during the wintertime. The Old Stone House, the Dumbarton House, and the Woodrow Wilson House are among the most fascinating homes that are open for visitors. 

18. Save your skin from the winter chill at a local spa. DC is home to so many amazing spas, I’ll have to write a separate post about them. One of my favorites is the Argentta Spa in the Watergate Hotel – the massages are amazing and all services include an afternoon at their pool and sauna complex!

19. Duck into Kramer Books for a cozy afternoon of reading. This adorable bookstore-gone-cafe in Dupont Circle is the kind of place that sucks you in and keeps you until you realize you’ve spent WAAAAYYYY too much time there.

20. Watch The Nutcracker at the Kennedy Center. Everyone’s favorite Christmas ballet makes its way to the Kennedy Center each year, and there are few things more classy than dressing up in your favorite red, green, or gold evening attire and watching it live. Click here to see this year’s dates and show times.

21. Take a bus or trolley tour. There are several tours of DC that you can take to see the city without freezing in the chilly winter air. Try a city-wide hop-on hop-off trolley tour or a small bus tour to stay warm while seeing all of the city’s best sights.

22. Plan a staycation. There are sooo many cool hotels, inns, and hostels to treat yourself to in DC, even if you’re a local. Planning a staycation is one of the best things to do in Washington DC in winter because it’s the tourism off-season for the city, so accommodation prices in general will be cheaper (except for holidays).

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Washington DC

Lady In Red
Photo Credit: Photo YourSpace (Flickr CC)

Outdoor Activities

23. Enjoy the snow! Even though DC may not be as snowy as some more northern states, we do get a few dustings from time to time. When it happens, take advantage by lacing up your boots and strolling through the National Mall, or simply watching it from the comfort of your home.

24. Go ice skating at the National Gallery of Art, the National Harbor, or the Watergate Hotel. There are a few wonderful places in the DC area to go ice skating during the winter season. The National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden hosts a wonderful outdoor skating rink, as does the rooftop of the Watergate Hotel. Bundle up and take your pick!

25. Go for a weekend at the ski slopes. Despite some misconceptions about skiing on the East Coast, there are a few fabulous ski resorts within a few hours of DC’s city limits. Snowshoe Resort (WV) and Wintergreen Resort (VA) are all fantastic options for all levels of skiers.

26. Join a city-wide snowball fight. When the snow falls, you know the Washington DC Snowball Fight Association will be out and about! Check their Facebook page when it snows for opportunities to get involved!

2017.12.09 Shaw People and Places, Washington, DC USA 1353
Photo Credit: Ted Eytan (Flickr CC)

Food & Drink

27. Pop into a holiday-themed pop-up bar. DC’s beloved Pop Up Bar in Shaw is the perfect place to get in the mood for any season, and the holidays are no different. Be sure to “pop” by their bar during the winter to see what the seasons greetings have in store!

28. Cozy up by a communal fireplace. There are a few outdoor patios that stay open in Washington, DC in the winter, where you can gather with friends under blankets and feel the warmth of outdoor fires while you dine or drink. Some of our favorite fireplace hangouts in the city include Barcelona, Masseria, and La Chaumiere.

29. Eat to your heart’s content during DC’s Winter Restaurant Week. Dozens of restaurants in Washington DC offer steep discounts on their finest dishes during Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, many of which rotate based on the season. Be sure to keep an eye on the participating restaurants and make your reservations early!

30. Participate in SantaCon. This Santa-themed crawl happens all over the United States, with the largest one in New York City. However, DC does its own spin on the Santa Con festivities, ”

31. Escape the cold at The Line’s high tea. Full of young professionals and relaxed waitstaff, The Line’s lobby bar, Brothers and Sisters, offers a great selection of high tea options. Or, if you’re feeling more laid-back, just hang out in their lobby with a cup of cappuccino from their all-day coffee bar and read a book.

32. …Or, if you’re feeling extra fancy, the St. Regis’ high tea… As one of the most lavish high teas in town, the St. Regis really knows their stuff. Petit fours on shiny tiered serving plates. An astounding variety of teas and other beverages. And top that all off with seats in what’s arguably DC’s most amazing hotel lobby. The St. Regis’ high tea will leave you feeling like royalty. (And yes, there’s a luxurious price tag to match.)

33. Warm up with DC’s best chai latte. I’ve spent over a year in Washington DC trying to solve a very important mystery: where the best chai latte in the city is hiding. While I haven’t been everywhere, I’d say for now it’s a tie between Compass Coffee and Tryst. Any objections?

Wreaths Across America Sunset at Arlington National Cemetery
Photo Credit: Joseph Gruber (Flickr CC)

Give Back

34. Lay a wreath at Arlington Cemetery. Each year, hundreds of people head to Arlington Cemetery to honor our country’s fallen veterans at a Wreath Laying Ceremony. The Wreaths Across America organization organizes an annual wreath laying event that anyone can volunteer at – click here for dates and more information on how to get involved.

35. Volunteer to help the less fortunate. The holidays and the biting cold of winter can be tough for people who are less fortunate. Luckily, there are many ways to give back and spread the winter cheer, including volunteering at the Capital Area Food Bank, to help make sure everyone gets fed this holiday season. Even better: convince your friends and family to do it with you!

Travel Tips for Washington DC

Getting to Washington DC

By Air

There are three major airports in the Washington DC metropolitan area: Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD) , and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI). All major airlines in the United States fly to at least one of these airports. The most accessible airport from the city is Reagan National, which is about 20 minutes from the city center on the blue or yellow metro lines.

To find the best flight deals, we use and recommend Skyscanner and CheapoAir.

By Ground Transportation

If you’re coming from somewhere else on the East Coast, there are trains and buses that will bring you from most major nearby cities to Union Station. Amtrak services the passenger trains, and prices vary greatly depending on where you’re coming from. Greyhound and MegaBus both operate several bus lines that arrive in Washington DC as well.

Where to Stay in Washington DC

The best and most beautiful hotel in town, hands down, is the St. Regis. Located just steps away from the White House, this beautiful and gold-embellished luxury hotel has a very classic feel. If you’re feeling extra snazzy, opt for one of their suites, and don’t forget to join the staff in the lobby for their daily evening champagne toast.

For mid-range travelers, The Line DC hotel in Adams Morgan offers chic, spacious rooms at a good price, and their lobby is one of the locals’ cool hangout spots.

Budget travelers will find the best bang for their buck either at HighRoad Hostel or in a locally-owned Airbnb. (You can click this link to save $40 off your first Airbnb booking!)

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Washington DC

Featured image by Zach Stern (Flickr CC)

Ready to hit the city? Not yet? Pin it for later so you don’t forget!

If cold weather has you craving fresh powder and steep slopes, you’re probably thinking of heading to West to the likes of New Mexico or Colorado. But wait! What about skiing on the East Coast? If you look hard enough, you’ll find some really awesome and challenging ski resorts on the East Coast.

Here, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for skiers of all levels, from not-yet-on-their-feet to advanced chutes and drops. Before you drop tons of hard-earned cash to fly across the country and lug your gear to the top of a mountain, check out our picks for some of the most amazing ski resorts on the East Coast.

All-Levels Ski Resorts

Mogul Panorama 1
Photo Credit: John M (Flickr CC)

Stowe Mountain Resort, VT

If you haven’t heard of Stowe, do you even ski, bro? (No, I’m totally kidding…or am I?)

One of the most well-known East Coast ski areas, Stowe is a gem of a resort located toward the northern part of Vermont. Founded in the 1930’s, it’s also a classic winter getaway for East Coast dwellers and people across the United States. Recently, Stowe was acquired by Vail Resorts, which owns ski resorts all over the United States. For the obsessed skier, this means that your can use your Epic Pass here alongside a dozen other resorts around the country.

Less-experienced skiers can make their way down the more moderate slopes of Spruce Peak, and the resort offers hourly ski lessons for those wanting some hands-on guidance. For the ravenous, slope-hungry adventurers, there are over 110 other ski trails, most of which are suitable for intermediate to advanced skiers.

However, what the resort does for skiers is almost paralleled by what it offers to non-skiers. Grab some downtime in Stowe’s spa or ice rink, or simply take a walk around the charming downtown near the resort. In addition to skiing, guests can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including snowshoe lessons, sleigh rides, dogsledding adventures, and snowmobile tours.

The best time to visit Stowe is during the holidays, when the whole area is full of festivities and decorations that would make even the surliest of adults crack a childlike grin.

Address: 5781 Mountain Road, Stowe, Vermont
Book Now: Stowe Mountain Resort | Check Stowe Mountain Resort reviews on TripAdvisor

Thar be terrain on these slopes!
Photo Credit: Rudi Riet (Flickr CC)

Okemo Mountain Resort, VT

Okemo Mountain Resort is the perfect example of an ‘all-levels’ ski resort. The fantastic weather conditions and well-done snowmaking means smooth slopes and a great environment for learning. It’s also home to the East Coast’s longest superpipe and 9 different terrain parks for the more advanced ski-lovers. RFID ticketing for the lifts means that lines go quickly here, so you can get on the slops much faster than other places which use more traditional ticketing methods. AKA, you can easily visit Okemo during crowded times of the year and still not be miserably waiting in lines the entire time.

And, when you get tired of skiing, there are literally TONS of things to do in the nearby resorts, including roller coasters, ice rinks, spas, pools, and amazing dining options for the post-slopes hanger.

Address: 77 Okemo Ridge Road, Ludlow, Vermont
Book Now: Okemo Mountain Resort | Check Okemo Mountain reviews on TripAdvisor

Cranmore Mountain Resort, NH

As one of the very first ski resorts in the United States built in the 1930s, Cranmore & North Conway definitely know what they’re doing when it comes to skiing. And it shows. With 57 trails across hundreds of acres, this beautiful mountain resort area attracts skiers from all over the East Coast. Here, the resort offers fantastic ski lessons and programs for beginners. However, there are also plenty of trails and areas for more experienced skiers as well.

Nearby North Conway town is one of the most charming little ski towns in the United States, offering a cozy respite to skiers once they’re ready to dine in one of the cafes nearby. There are also opportunities for tubing for visitors wanting to experience the thrill of the slopes (minus the challenge of actually learning how to ski).

Address: 239 Skimobile Road, North Conway, NH 03860
Book Now: Cranmore Mountain Lodge | Check Cranmore Mountain reviews on TripAdvisor

Beginner-Friendly Ski Resorts

Bretton Woods, January 8, 2018
Photo Credit: MWV Chamber of Commerce (Flickr CC)

Bretton Woods Mountain Resort, NH

So you’ve never put on a pair of skis before, much less ridden downhill on them at a frightening pace. No worries! One of the best and most beautiful ski resorts on the East Coast for beginners, Bretton Woods, is the perfect place to get hands on experience in a fairly flat and easy slope environment.

Top it all off with incredible views of Mount Washington, and you’ve got a pretty sweet deal.

Among the 62 trails in Bretton Woods’ resort area, over 50% are ranked as either beginner (25%) or intermediate (29%), and even the advanced ones – according to many first hand sources – are fairly accessible to skiers with some experience. If you’re looking for something different, cross-country skiing options are also plentiful here in this beautiful wooded region.

Address: 99 Ski Area Road, Bretton Woods, NH 03575
Book Now: Mount Washington Resort | Check Bretton Woods reviews on TripAdvisor

Smuggler’s Notch, VT

If you’re a beginner skier looking for a place to set down your skis for the first time, Smugglers’ Notch Ski Resort is a perfect place to get starter. At Smugglers’ Notch, novice skiers can take to the trails for a very reasonable price – in fact, Smugglers’ Notch boasts some of the best prices for skiing in the entire state of Vermont.

Approximately 20% of Smugglers’ Notch ski trails – around 12 trails total – are suitable for beginners. There are also plenty of opportunities to take ski lessons and practice your skills in a learning-friendly environment that’s separate from the main skiing trails.

Address: 4323 Vermont Route 108 South, Jeffersonville, VT 05464
Book Now: Smugglers’ Notch | Check Smugglers’ Notch reviews on TripAdvisor

Hunter Mountain NY
Photo Credit: Chris Boese (Flickr CC)

Hunter Mountain, NY

Quite possibly the best resort in New York state to learn to ski, Hunter Mountain is a family-friendly resort located in the Catskills that has the perfect learning environment for beginners. At around 2.5 hours from New York City, it’s an accessible resort that has all of the amenities you could ever want for a weekend ski getaway. In fact, it has been acclaimed as the “Best Program to Grow the [Skiing] Sport to New Participants.”

In line with its beginner-friendly reputation, Hunter Mountain has its own learning program, Hunter One, that promotes a progressive learning sequence for skiers to want to acquire and up-level their ski skills. Beginners can also opt for the Peak Discovery Program, which offers beginners 3 lessons, 3 lift tickets, and 3 equipment rentals for just $139. Their mountain of the same name is also the mountain that houses most of the beginner-friendly slopes.

Address: 64 Klein Ave, Hunter, NY 12442
Book Now: Hunter Mountain Resort | Check Hunter Mountain Reviews on TripAdvisor

Wintergreen, VA

Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Wintergreen is one of the southernmost ski resorts on our list that’s perfect for those who want to learn in a friendly environment. With just 24 slopes, Wintergreen Resort is a pretty small ski area compared to others, but it’s easily accessible from West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina, as well as Virginia.

Here, beginners can find easy slopes and hands-on ski lessons (groups and individual) to get started in a less competitive environment than some of the bigger resorts. The bunny hills here are some of the perfect places to ride your skis for the first time – I know from personal experience!

Address: Route 664, Wintergreen, VA 22958
Book Now: Wintergreen Resort | Check Wintergreen reviews on TripAdvisor

Intermediate Ski Resorts

Ski panning (more photos on comments)
Photo Credit: Chaval Brasil (Flickr CC)

Cannon Mountain, NH

Nothing beats a ski area with over 50% of slopes that are perfect for intermediate skiers, and Cannon Mountain is no exception. Located in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, Cannon Mountain Ski Resort boasts endless variety for experienced skiers who are ready to take on new challenges.

For intermediate skiers who are ready to take the leap to more advanced slopes, there are some pretty epic ones at Cannon Mountain as well. Cannon Mountain is home to New Hampshire’s longest vertical drop, as well as other adrenaline-infused trails. Here is as good as skiing on the East Coast gets.

One central difference about Cannon Mountain is that it doesn’t have huge resort developments like many other central ski towns. Here, their focus is on offering challenging yet accessible slopes for intermediate to advanced ski fiends, and it shows. You won’t find cushy lodges or upscale amenities here, just fine powder and the wind rushing against you as you ski these thrilling slopes.

Address: 260 Tramway Drive, Franconia, NH 03580
Book Now: Cannon Mountain View Hotel | Check Cannon Mountain reviews on TripAdvisor

Canaan Valley, WV

Located in a state park, you can probably imagine that the Canaan Valley Ski Resort is pretty epic. Despite being one of two ski resorts in the Canaan Valley, it is notable mostly for its incredible variety of intermediate ski trails. With 47 slopes – about 40% suitable for intermediate skiers – there’s no shortage of challenge or fun here. It’s a great resort to level up your skills or simply take on new challenges as an intermediate skier.

If you’re exhausted from skiing the slopes but still want some adrenaline-infused activities, you can head to the resort’s tubing area for over 1,200 feet of tubing excitement.

Address: 230 Main Lodge Road, Davis, West Virginia 26260
Book Now: Canaan Valley Resort & Conference Center | Check Canaan Valley reviews on TripAdvisor

Gore Mountain, NY

It can be hard to find the perfect balance between accessibility and challenge for intermediate skiers. Luckily, Gore Mountain Ski Resort has slopes that strike a perfect chord. Over 50% of the ski trails here have an “intermediate” designation, across 4 peaks and 7 faces. Needless to say, there’s TONS of variety and variability in the types of terrain available to intermediate skiers.

Oh, and did we mention the panoramic views of the Adirondack Mountains?

To make the resort even more appealing, they’ve recently added a ton of new technology and upgrades to their snowmaking system, so the 2018-2019 season is bound to be an exciting one.

Address: 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853
Book Now: Gore Mountain Lodge | Check Gore Mountain reviews on TripAdvisor

Sugarloaf, Maine
Photo Credit: Jack Heddon (Flickr CC)

Sugarloaf, ME

One of the best all-around ski resorts on the East Coast is Sugarloaf Mountain Resort. Why? Because there’s a near-even spread of beginner, intermediate, and advanced ski trails. Whether you were an avid skier in the past and simply need to brush up on some skills on the easier slopes, or you are ready to take your skiing to the next level, there’s a place for you on one of Sugarloaf’s whopping 162 ski trails.

Address: 5092 Sugarloaf Access Rd., Carrabassett Valley, Maine 04947
Book Now: Sugarloaf Mountain | Check Sugarloaf Mountain reviews on TripAdvisor

Mount Snow, VT

Mount Snow Resort is a fantastic option for intermediate skiers looking for a lot of new and different trails to explore. Intermediate skiers love its variety in terrain, and more advanced skiers can enjoy several jumps and other challenges like halfpipes. The rolling terrain here will definitely keep you on your toes!

It’s also situated in a charming town that has shops and dining options for the tired snow bunny.

Address: 39 Mount Snow Road, West Dover, VT 05356
Book Now: Mount Snow Resort | Check Mount Snow Reviews on TripAdvisor

Advanced Ski Resorts

Whiteface Mountain
Photo Credit: justinknabb (Flickr CC)

Whiteface, NY

There are few ski resorts on the East Coast more notorious than Whiteface Mountain Resort. Aptly known as “Iceface,” the area boasts a combination of expert-level slopes and often challenging conditions.

As its name suggests, Whiteface is a fantastic place to exercise your expert-level skiing skills, as it is home to many of the best black diamond trails on the East Coast. It’s no hay ride, but expert-level and advanced skiers will find hours worth of challenge and reward here.

As an added bonus, Whiteface is located in Lake Placid, NY, which in itself is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the United States.

Address: 2634 Main St. Lake Placid, NY 12946
Book Now: Whiteface Mountain | Check Whiteface Mountain reviews on TripAdvisor

Mad River Glen, VT

Are you ready for some of the most difficult skiing in the East Coast? Then Mad River Glen is calling your name. There’s a reason the bumper stickers from this place say, “Mad River Glen – Ski It if You Can.” What Mad River Glen takes in energy and exhaustion, it gives in utter satisfaction that you’ve skied the most challenging slopes in the area.

Here, at Mad River Glen, the advanced trails and slopes are not supplemented with snowmaking, so prior planning is key if you want to have the best experience possible here. Be sure to check weather conditions ahead of time!

Address: 57 Schuss Pass Road, Waitsfield, VT 05673
Book Now: Mad River Glen (There’s no central resort – so you can use this resource to check local hotels and inns for availability!) | Check Mad River Glen reviews on TripAdvisor

Killington, Vermont skiing
Photo Credit: Jules Joseph (Flickr CC)

Killington, VT

For those of you who may have forgotten how challenging skiing in the East Coast can be, Killington Resort is yet another example of how difficult the terrain and slopes are. Killington embodies the all-about-ski mentality at its finest, and its peaks are nothing to sneeze at.

Six of the seven peaks at this resort have dedicated slopes for expert-level skiers, providing plenty of variety for the ultra-experienced ski-lover. A 3,000-foot vertical drop is just one of many surprises in store here. Experts can enjoy super-challenging slopes at Canyon or Bear Mountain.

Address: 4763 Killington Rd, Killington, VT 05751
Book Now: Killington Ski Resort | Check Killington Resort reviews on TripAdvisor

Timberline, WV

For southern skiers looking for an expert-level option, Timberline Resort is a fantastic option located in the Canaan Valley of West Virginia. The expert-level slopes in Timberline have some serious grade to them, boasting drops similar to many of the other expert ski areas you can find on this list. And yeah, you probably never expected that from West Virginia, right? Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it!

Advanced skiers can tackle the resort’s premier White Lightning trail, or Cherry Bowl or The Drop for extra thrills. But, for those looking for variety, there are 7 double black diamond trails here that you can tackle.

Address: 254 Four Seasons Drive, Davis, WV 26260
Book Now: Timberline Four Seasons Resort | Check Timberline reviews on TripAdvisor

Tuckerman Ravine, NH

Tuckerman Ravine is not much of a “resort,” per se, but rather an expert skiier’s mecca in New Hampshire. Situated on Mount Washington, this perfectly-formed cirque has been transformed into a ski area that only somewhat daring and experienced skiers would attempt. Just to arrive here, you must walk over 3 miles to get to the starting point…with all of your gear.

Once you’re at the top, you can choose a route down to the bottom. An advanced skier favorite is the Chute, which offers steep inclines and thrill down to the bottom. Here’s a detailed post on how to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine – you’ll want to make sure you’re well prepared before taking on this feat!

Ready to hit the slopes right now? If not, pin this post for later! 🙂

The cold winter months might seem like the time to hole up and stop traveling in the USA, with snow and ice forecasts and chilling temperatures below freezing. But au contraire, in the United States, there’s actually a LOT to see and do during this unique time of year. As they say, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! So, grab your winter boots (or your swimsuit) and read on for our suggestions on 25 of the most wonderful winter getaways in the United States.

Best Winter Getaways in the United States

Celebrate the Holiday Cheer

The Screaming Weasel - North Pole, Alaska
Photo Credit: Timothy Wildey (Flickr CC)

North Pole, Alaska

If Christmas festivities and Santa-themed kitsch are what you’re after, the #1 best place to go is to the North Pole! While the actual North Pole isn’t located in the United States, the next best thing is North Pole, Alaska, a small town that’s modeled after Santa’s hometown. Although winter is the natural time to check out this small town, North Pole naturally rocks the Christmas cheer all year.

Here, red and white buildings adorn the streets, lights hang from every surface, and in the winter, the whole area is covered in snow. During your visit, you can take a stroll down Mistletoe Lane or simply enjoy the over-the-top Christmas cheer.

Where to Stay: There aren’t too many hotels in North Pole, but Hotel North Pole and Moose Tracks B&B are two that are well-loved by travelers in the area.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in North Pole

Lights - Rockefeller Center, New York City

New York City, New York

During the holiday season, there’s no more bright or festive city in the United States than the Big Apple. From sparkling lights to Christmas markets, Santa Con to ice skating at the Rockefeller Center, New York offers a huge dose of holiday cheer to anyone willing to brave the cold and windy weather. Cozy up for a warm cup of tea in the Plaza Hotel, go window-shopping on Fifth Avenue, or admire the lights shows around the city.

Where to Stay: One of the most beautiful, cozy, and unique boutique hotels in New York City is The NoMad Hotel near Madison Square Park, which offers floor-to-ceiling windows and gorgeous decor. For a more affordable option, the Sohotel is another fantastic and centrally located place to stay. You can check listings and compare prices for NYC here.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in New York City

Klamath Wild and Scenic River, Oregon
Photo Credit: Bureau of Land Management (Flickr CC)

Cascades Evergreen Forests

Nothing says holidays like pine trees, and the Cascades are FULL of them. This evergreen forest spans California, Oregon, and Washington. The evergreen trees here are several decades old, and they stay green year-round, making for some gorgeous winter walks and photos. For hikers, the Pacific Crest Trail runs through here, and while conditions may not be optimal during the cold winter months, during warmer parts of the year it’s one of the most iconic hikes in the United States.

Where to Stay: The Cascades Evergreen Forests extend through most of the Pacific Northwest, and are accessible from large cities like Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.

Baltimore's 34th Street
Baltimore’s 34th Street during the holiday season. Photo Credit: Patrick Gillespie (Flickr CC)

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore might seem like a very unlikely destination to have on this list, but its holiday spirit warrants its place here. One Baltimore neighborhood in particular takes celebrating the holiday season – Hampden. Here, on a short block of rowhouses on 34th street, one of the most ridiculous light displays in the country takes place. Cheesy inflatables? Check. Moving light shows? Yep. Tons of festive locals and giddy children? They’ve got it all.

Where to Stay: The Monaco Hotel by Kimpton in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is a fabulous and affordable option for travelers in the area.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Baltimore

Merry Christmas
Christmas celebrations at Walt Disney World in Orlando. Photo Credit: Don Sullivan (Flickr CC)

Take a Disney Break

Love it or hate it, there are few places more festive or inviting in the United States than the Disney parks, and luckily, they’re suitable for families or the child in everyone! During the winter season, Disney World Orlando offers several holiday-themed classic events like its Very Merry Christmas Party and its Epcot International Holiday Celebration, as well as a nightly spectacular light show from November to January. In California, Disney Land offers several fun attractions as well, including their Viva Navidad! celebration and holiday themed rides. Plus, they’re both located in warm and sunny destinations, perfect for alleviating the winter blues.

Where to Stay: For those who want the best location and access to the parks, Disney offers its own resorts in Florida and California.

Peaceful Wilderness
Cozy warm cabins make the perfect holiday getaway. Photo Credit: Shutter Fotos (Flickr CC)

Cozy Up in a Cabin Somewhere

What screams holiday hygge more than a smoldering fireplace, warm apple cider, and disconnecting from the world for a weekend in a beautiful mountain escape? Not much, in our opinion. Grab your coziest blankets and your favorite friends and family and head for the hills for a beautiful winter getaway. The American Southwest, the Rockies, and the Blue Ridge Mountains all offer lovely views and spacious cabins for a reasonable price.

Where to Stay: One of the best ways to find cabins for rent all over the United States is to use Airbnb. You can save $40 on your first Airbnb booking here.

Biltmore @ Christmas (2017), Asheville, NC
The Biltmore Mansion is always so festively decorated during the holidays. Photo Credit: Craig James (Flickr CC)

Biltmore Mansion, North Carolina

One of the most festive places to visit in the United States during the holiday season is Asheville, NC’s Biltmore Estate. This former residence is America’s largest, and was once the home of George Vanderbilt. During the winter months, the entire 12,000 square foot mansion is beautifully decorated with holiday cheer. After your visit to the mansion, you can enjoy Asheville’s other wonderful sights or sample local wines and snacks at one of the Biltmore Estate’s 6 restaurants

Where to Stay: Asheville’s Grand Bohemian Hotel is one of the most beautiful properties in the city, and is a comfortable and stylish place to spend a few days away.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Asheville

Enjoy the Outdoors

Big Bend National Park - USA Weekend Guide
Sunset in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park

Many US national parks have limited access during the winter due to snowy weather conditions, but Big Bend is quite the opposite. Winter is the best time to visit this stunning national park on the Texas-Mexico border as the weather is cooler and more balmy than the hotter summer months.

Here in Big Bend, the Rio Grande winds its way through the canyons and plains of this beautiful, less-visited park, which offers several day hikes, multi-day treks, and camping options for adventure lovers. Hike the rim of the Chisos Basin, or simply spend your nights staring up at some of the darkest skies in the country.

Where to Stay: There are several camping options in Big Bend National Park. However, if you’d rather stay in a hotel, the Chisos Mountains Lodge is the most central option, as well as a few inns and B&Bs in nearby Terlingua, TX.

Winter city landscape, Park City, Utah.
A snowy Park City landscape. Photo Credit: Keith Kendrick (Flickr CC)

Park City, Utah

Park City, Utah is somewhat of a mecca for winter travel. Aside from its famed ski resorts, Park City also offers many winter activities for non-skiiers as well. Sleigh rides, dog sledding, and snowshoe lessons are just a few of the fun, winter-themed activities available in the Park City area.

Where to Stay: While there are tons of charming resorts and hotels here, many travelers love the Park City Marriott due to its central location and affordable prices.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Park City

Zabriskie Point, Death Valley
Photo Credit: J. Philipp Krone

Death Valley National Park

One of the most spectacular natural attractions in the USA, Death Valley, comes to life in the wintertime. With cool temperatures, dry air, and little precipitation, winter is the perfect time to visit this expansive and unique national park. Lace up those hiking boots for a walk along the dozens of trails in the park, or take a road trip around the beautiful roadways and admire the snowy mountains that surround the park. Visitors can even camp in the park during the winter months, which isn’t common in many other areas of the USA.

Where to Stay: There are several campsites in Death Valley National Park. However, if you’d prefer a hotel, the Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel is a fantastic option.

Barn, Mormon Row, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Photo Credit: alh1 (Flickr CC)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

If there was ever a true winter wonderland in the United States, it would be in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Surrounded by snowy mountains and charming lodges, Jackson Hole is most popular amongst skiiers but is a perfect winter destination for solo travelers and families as well. Other winter activities in Jackson Hole include ice skating, sleigh rides, dog sledding, and wildlife watching.

Where to Stay: The Lodge at Jackson Hole is a popular and central resort within Jackson Hole, Wyoming, complete with a year-round outdoor hot tub and spa.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Jackson Hole

Photo Credit: Pier Naradara (Flickr CC)

Fairbanks, Alaska

What would Santa be without his trusty reindeer companions? Believe it or not, you can meet and interact with these beautiful creatures right here in the United States. One of the only places in the country where you can see reindeer is in Fairbanks, Alaska. While it may seem crazy to visit Alaska during the cold and dark months of the year, it’s actually a lovely way to celebrate the winter season. Not only can you see reindeer here, but you also have the opportunity to catch the northern lights when the sun disappears from the sky.

To hang out with reindeer, you can head to Running Reindeer Ranch, a very well-respected reindeer farm that encourages visitors to meet and greet the animals.

Where to Stay: The Mount Aurora Lodge is a beloved lodge located in Fairbanks, Alaska. It boasts cozy, log cabin-style interiors and beautiful views.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Fairbanks

Up on the mountain
Photo Credit: Nicholas Erwin (Flickr CC)

Stowe, Vermont

Stowe is a skiier’s mecca and is located in one of the most beautiful parts of Vermont, especially in the winter when it’s covered in snow. Bundle up and hit the slopes, or simply cozy up in a ski lodge with hot chocolate and a view of the mountains. Either way, you’re bound to have a relaxing and fun trip.

Where to Stay: The Stowe Mountain Resort is the main resort in the area and is a fantastic place to base yourself for ski and winter excursions in the Stowe area.

Joshua Tree Magic
Photo Credit: Christopher Michel (Flickr CC)

Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking to escape the crowds and enjoy one of the US’s most beautiful national parks, head to Joshua Tree in the winter months. Winter is one of the best times to visit Joshua Tree because it’s still very accessible due to low precipitation, but the summer crowds are greatly diminished. While it can get quite cold in the night time during the winter months, winter still offers great weather for hiking and outdoor activities during the day.

Where to Stay: There are plenty of campsites scattered around the park. However, if you’d prefer more luxe accommodations, Desert Lily B&B is an excellent choice.

Take a Road Trip

McWay Falls, Big Sur, California
Photo Credit: Pedro Szekely (Flickr CC)

Pacific Coast Road Trip

One of the most wonderful road trip itineraries in the entire United States is on the Pacific Coast. On this route, you’ll see beautiful cliffside ocean views, evergreen forests, and amazing mountainous landscapes. Whether you just have a few days or a few weeks, you can choose a route on the Pacific Coast that works best for you. If you’re not from the West Coast and need to get a car, many car rental companies (like Hertz or Avis) offer one-way drop offs for an extra fee.

Further Reading: The Ultimate 10-Day Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide by Valerie & Valise

Appalachian Road Trip

If you’re dreaming of hiking the Appalachian Trail but don’t want to wait until the summer months, why not take a Appalachian road trip this winter instead? There are many areas near the Appalachian Trail that are driveable, and offer beautiful, misty views of the Appalachian Mountains and small towns along the way. If you’re not from the East Coast and need to get a car, many car rental companies (like Hertz or Avis) offer one-way drop offs for an extra fee.

Further Reading: Appalachian Trail Road Trip by Roadtrippers

route 66
Photo Credit: Jamie Beverly (Flickr CC)

Route 66 Road Trip

The classic American itinerary, Route 66 is the perfect way to explore much of the Southwestern United States. Route 66 passes through 8 states, including Texas, Arizona, and California. Along the route, there are many national and state parks, as well as classic diners for sampling some southwestern fares. If you’re not from the Route 66 area and need to get a car, many car rental companies (like Hertz or Avis) offer one-way drop offs for an extra fee.

Further Reading: 2 Week Route 66 Road Trip by Independent Travel Cats

Prada Marfa Texas
Prada Marfa is the perfect stop on any Texas road trip.

Texas Road Trip

While summer is unbearably hot in Texas, winter is probably the best time to travel through this vast state. In much of the state, the weather in winter is cool and dry, perfect for a road trip adventure. You could drive for days just visiting the small towns, ghost towns, and beautiful parks in Texas. Some of the best attractions in Texas include Big Bend National Park, the Texas Hill Country, Marfa, Guadalupe Mountains, Cadillac Ranch, and of course, the big cities including Houston, Dallas, and Austin. 

If you’re not from Texas and need to get a car, many car rental companies (like Hertz or Avis) offer one-way drop offs for an extra fee.

Further Reading: A Texas Road Trip to Prada Marfa by Jetfarer

Escape the Cold Weather

Old San Juan
Photo Credit: Breezy Baldwin (Flickr CC)

Puerto Rico

On the recovery from Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is making a comeback as a wonderful beach destination. Even better, money spent in Puerto Rico helps locals who are continuing to rebuild after the disastrous effects of the hurricane. Here, you can find stunning blue beaches, the charm of Old San Juan, and a strong Latin influence, without having to leave the United States.

Where to Stay: Hotel El Convento in San Juan comes highly rated by fellow travelers as a comfortable and central accommodation option in Puerto Rico.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Puerto Rico

Ocean Beach Pier at Sunset
Photo Credit: Nathan Rupert (Flickr CC)

San Diego, California

If you’re craving sunshine and want to get away from the winter blues, head down to the sparkling beaches of San Diego. Here, the weather is basically perfect all year round, and it’s the perfect place to get some Vitamin D during the winter months. Take a stroll through one of the city’s quirky neighborhoods, sample Mexican-influenced cuisine, or just lounge around at the beach – there’s never a shortage of things to do in this vibrant city.

Where to Stay: The US Grant Hotel is a beautiful luxury hotel located in San Diego, and comes highly recommended as one of the best places to stay in the city.

Downtown Sunrise 2
Photo Credit: Earl McGehee (Flickr CC)

Austin, Texas

Warm weather, unique local culture, and beautiful outdoor areas characterize the bustling capital city of Texas. Austin’s slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” and it definitely lives up to this reputation with a wide variety of locally-owned cafes, boutiques, and walking areas. Winter is the perfect time to visit because the weather in Austin is cool but not cold, perfect for a morning run by the river or a stroll in South Congress.

Where to Stay: The W Austin is a lovely, centrally-located riverside hotel with upscale amenities and wonderful sunrise views.

Click here to check reviews and compare prices for hotels in Austin

Sunset Rocks
Photo Credit: Kenneth Garcia (Flickr CC)

Key West, Florida

If freezing weather and a lack of sunshine are making you crave turquoise, clear water and golden sand, head to Key West for a getaway that will leave you with sand between your toes. Many resorts offer great deals to travelers simply wanting to get away and relax. If you are looking for a bit more action, you can snorkel or scuba dive to see marine life in the warm waters as well.

Where to Stay: The Casa Marina Beach Resort is a perfectly located, high-end beach resort in Key West that travelers in the area absolutely love.

First Light Over Kilauea Caldera
Photo Credit: Howard Ignatius (Flickr CC)


Hawaii is a popular winter getaway for a reason – because it’s the perfect sunny and beautiful escape from winter gloom on the mainland! If you’re dreaming of sitting on a perfect beach in a beautiful place, there’s no lack of options for you on one of Hawaii’s many islands. Adventure seekers can take a helicopter ride over Volcanoes National Park, or go for several hikes around the different islands. There are also endless diving and snorkeling options.

Where to Stay: There are many islands in Hawaii, so where you’ll stay depends on which islands you choose to visit.

Great Cruz Bay

Photo Credit: Chris Martino (Flickr CC)

US Virgin Islands

Divers, snorkelers, and beach bums unite! The US Virgin Islands are the perfect getaway for you. Located in the Caribbean, the beaches here feature amazing, clear waters and white sands, with plenty of resorts for those who want a true relaxing vacation. With reasonable flights from many cities in the USA, it’s a perfect vacation place that’s not too far from home.

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Finding cheap flights in the United States can sometimes be more of an art than a science. As someone who travels regularly, it seems like flights across the USA sometimes cost even more than flights to Europe, Asia, or South America! With unpredictable airline pricing algorithms and a plethora of airline options, there’s really no right or wrong way to buy a ticket. However, there are a few things you can do to maximize your chances of finding cheap flights in the USA. Here are 8 of our favorite tips for finding the cheapest flights in the United States.

How to Find Cheap Flights in the USA

1. Watch for Sales

Like any business, airlines often have sales, and these are some of the best opportunities to find cheap flights in the USA. These are usually limited by date or number of tickets, so once a sale is live, it’s important to act quickly. The best way to find out about airline sales is by signing up for the airline newsletters directly. Usually, you’ll be automatically signed up for these emails if you are part of the airline’s loyalty program. In the past, I’ve gotten deals on cheap flights in the United States from Southwest, JetBlue and United fare sales.

Another fantastic newsletter that gives me frequent updates on airline sales is The Points Guy (TPG). TPG is my go-to for flight deal announcements, points and miles (more on this later), and general travel hacking inspiration.

2. Buy as Early as Possible (Sometimes)

On certain airlines, namely Southwest, it’s best to book as early as possible. This is because Southwest’s cheapest fares are the first to get sold out. The good thing about booking early with Southwest is that you can change your flight or cancel it for no fee, and you can use that flight credit again for a later flight. Many other domestic airlines in the United States, such as United, Delta, American, and Alaska, also generally have cheap fares earlier on, but their pricing seems to be a bit more sporadic.

Harpers Ferry, WV - Cheap Flights in the United States
How about a historic weekend in Harper’s Ferry, WV?

3. Travel Light in Basic Economy

One of the newest ways to travel for less in the United States is by flying in Basic Economy. If you’ve never heard of this before, Basic Economy is essentially a no-frills flight ticket (with a no-frills fare to go along with it). This means a cheap price tag, but no access to overhead bin space, lowest priority boarding, and no seat choice. If you’re just trying to go somewhere, especially for a weekend trip, and don’t need to carry a lot of stuff, Basic Economy is a fantastic option.

Delta, United, and American all offer some form of Basic Economy on domestic flights. Spirit Airlines doesn’t offer basic economy, but their full service is quite similar and priced in line with these fares.

4. Cross-Check Aggregators with Airline Websites

Many people, myself included, enjoy using flight aggregators to compare routes and prices across several different airlines. I highly recommend this strategy, with a few caveats. First, be sure to use more than one aggregator to search, as the algorithms are different and you’ll likely find different results with each one. Second, be sure to ALWAYS cross-check prices and routes with the actual airline’s website.

If you want to try this strategy, it’s very simple. Some commonly used flight aggregators include: CheapOAir, Expedia, Kayak, and Google Flights. Search your desired flight route on 2 or more of these to compare prices and times. Then, take note of the flight numbers and airlines, and look directly on the airline’s website at the same flights to compare pricing.

FYI: you’ll always have more control if you book directly with the airline. If you book directly with the airline, you’ll more easily be able to change your flight if needed, add amenities like checked bags or priority boarding, and resolve issues if your flight is delayed or cancelled.

Detroit, Michigan - Cheap Flights in the USA
Fancy a street art tour of Detroit, MI?

Interested in other destinations around the United States? Here are a few of our recent posts:

5. Try Nearby Airports and Hub Cities

If you can’t find a flight directly to where you want to go, have a look at nearby airports and cities. For example, in Washington, DC, the most convenient airport to fly into is DCA, or Reagan National Airport. However, I always look at IAD (Dulles) and BWI (Baltimore) when booking flights because sometimes the cheapest flights are to one of those airports. As a DC flyer, sometimes I look as far out as New York or Philadelphia for potential deals, because if the flight price is cheap enough, it justifies the few hours spent in transit.

Similarly, if you live in San Francisco (SFO), you might have a look at Oakland’s (OAK) airport as well. Or in New York City, you can try JFK, LGA, EWR, and even PHL. You get the point!

6. Sign Up for Flight Notifications

If you know you want to buy a flight, and you’ve got some time to spare before buying, you can sign up for flight price drop notifications through a variety of providers. My favorites are Google Flights and AirfareWatchdog – they don’t spam me, but they do send an email alert whenever the flights I’m searching for drop in price. This method really only works if you have a lot of advance notice about your flight, or you’re completely flexible on when you plan your trip.

Big Bend National Park - Cheap Flights in the United States
Fly into Southern Texas to visit Big Bend National Park!

7. Subsidize with Points and Miles

This one should be a given, but if you aren’t signed up for the variety of FREE points and miles programs offered by airlines and credit cards, you’re really missing out. The airline loyalty programs don’t cost anything, but you earn valuable miles or points every time you fly. Similarly, if you use a points or miles credit card, you can earn travel credits for every dollar you spend. Does it sound too good to be true? Read on for more details.

The best part about stockpiling points and miles is that you can use them to subsidize or even fully cover the cost of your flights. My personal favorite way to do this is through my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Every time I use it, I earn points that I can either transfer to airline/hotel partners or redeem as money for travel through their booking portal. No matter where I want to travel, I can use my Chase points to purchase hotels or cheap flights in the United States and around the world.

8. Be Flexible

Perhaps this is obvious, but the more flexibility you have, the cheaper your flight options will be. If you can fly during the week and work remotely, then that widens your spectrum of flight dates. Red eye flights can also be a cheap option for people hoping to travel across the country. Sometimes, it’s even cheaper to fly to a different city then rent a car to drive to your destination. The possibilities are endless.

Needless to say, the more flexible you are in your travel schedule, the easier it will be to find cheap flights in the United States. While some times of the year, like holidays, large festivals, or travel high seasons, are generally more expensive, if you look closely, you can still find great deals to almost anywhere in the United States.

Portland Oregon Multnomah Falls

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Virginia is arguably one of the best places in the United States to visit in autumn. The air turns cool, the Blue Ridge Mountains take on shades of fiery red, orange, and yellow, and Virginia comes alive with a variety of festivals and outdoor activities that visitors and locals can enjoy. Whether you’re hopping in the car for a weekend trip or only have a few hours to spend, read on for our list of the best activities to do in Virginia in the fall.

Things to Do in Virginia in the Fall

Take a weekend trip

1. Road trip through Virginia

There are few things more beautiful – or more colorful – than Virginia in the fall. Covered in trees, raging rivers, and rolling mountains, Virginia is the perfect place to go for a long drive. Whether you only have a day or an entire week, Virginia has so much to offer. Here are just a few areas that make a perfect stop on any Virginia road trip:

Northern Virginia

While I cringe at the thought of lumping all of Northern Virginia together like this, there are just so many places I could recommend around here. Some of the area’s highlights include Old Town Alexandria, Fredericksburg, Mount Vernon, and Occoquan.

Natural Attractions in Virginia

  • Shenandoah National Park – The only national park in Virginia, Shenandoah National Park consists of beautiful, green forests and miles of mountains. You can also find the Appalachian Trail running through here. A drive through the central Skyline Drive is one of the most scenic routes in all of Virginia, and in my opinion, it’s best during a chilly fall sunset.
  • Luray Caverns – The largest set of caves in the Eastern United States, Luray Caverns is an incredible sight to see. You can even experience their Stalacpipe Organ (an organ entirely made of stalagmites/stalactites – pretty freaking cool if you ask me!) while you’re there.
  • Natural Bridge – A naturally-formed rock bridge made of stark formations, Natural Bridge State Park is really a spectacular natural attraction that you can’t miss if you’re in the area.

Western/Southwestern Virginia

  • Charlottesville – Filled with a charming downtown mall and university area, amazing wineries, and quick access to hiking and biking trails, Charlottesville is the perfect destination for any kind of traveler.
  • RoanokeRoanoke is a small city located in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Here, you can find lovely weekend markets, amazing BBQ, and nearby, some of the best hiking trails in the state.

Central Virginia

  • Richmond – Virginia’s bustling capital, Richmond, has a lot of historic sites, parks, and quirky gems that are definitely worth checking out. Of note are the Edgar Allan Poe museum, Maymont Park, Carytown, and First Fridays Art Festival.

Coastal Virginia

  • Williamsburg/Yorktown/Jamestown – Some of the oldest settlements in the United States, Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown are a history nerd’s paradise. They’ve retained many of their original buildings, and guides roam the area to answer questions and talk about some of the historical value of the towns.
  • Virginia Beach – If you’re looking for a beach getaway, Virginia Beach is the easiest one to access in Virginia. Since fall is the off season for the beach, it’s probably too cold to swim, but autumn still has nice enough weather to stroll on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk or go for a boat ride. There are also other fun attractions like the Virginia Aquarium and the Cape Henry Lighthouse.
Virginia in the fall
Virginia’s roadways show off their beautiful fall colors (Photo: Pixabay)

2. Rent a cabin or lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains

If you’re hoping to spend a weekend enjoying Virginia’s fall colors, renting a cabin can be a great option. There are all kinds of cabins dotted throughout the state ranging in size, amenities, and price. You can find a bunch of options on Airbnb (and if you use this link, you can save $40 off your first booking!).

Alternatively, one of the cutest cabin complexes I’ve been dying to try (but haven’t gotten to go to yet) is called Getaway House. Tiny house-style, Getaway House provides cozy tiny cabins in the middle of rural Virginia for a weekend of disconnecting.

Maybe you’d rather have more amenities, like restaurants, pools, etc. A great option for you is to check yourself into one of Virginia’s scenic ski lodges. While the ski lodges won’t yet have any snow to shred the slopes, you can still usually ride the cable cars, hike, and enjoy the fire side in the lodge. One of my favorite ski lodges in Virginia is Wintergreen Resort, which is located near Charlottesville.
(Check Wintergreen reviews on TripAdvisor | Book Wintergreen Resort now)

If you’re looking for something a bit more upscale, the Homestead Resort is a historic lodge located in the mountains of Western Virginia that is perfect for a posh weekend getaway. Several famous people and US presidents have come here to get away for a while, and I don’t blame them! With a full-service spa, great food options, a warm pool, and nearby skiing and hot springs, there’s LOADS to do here. But you can also do nothing here; that’s the beauty of it.
(Check Homestead Inn reviews on TripAdvisor | Book Homestead Inn now)

Click here to read reviews and compare prices for Virginia cabins and lodges

3. Take a scenic train ride

Historically, Virginia has served as a thoroughfare for trains carrying freight, coal, or other goods. The remnants of this long-standing history are still intact in many parts of the state, and visitors can experience some of this legacy on a historic train ride. Because of the weather and the fall colors, autumn is the perfect time to do it.

The Manassas to Front Royal N&W 611 train offers visitors a chance to experience a scenic ride through northern Virginia. (Note: The Manassas to Front Royal N&W 611 train is not running any passenger excursions in 2018. However, they will hopefully resume operations in 2019.) Another beautiful scenic passenger train ride is the 3.5-hour Buckingham Branch Railway, located in New Canton, Virginia. The Buckingham Branch route features beautiful views of the James River and pastoral Virginia, and boasts onboard dining and souvenirs.

Mount Vernon: Batteau boat
Photo: Craig Fildes // Flickr CC

4. …Or a scenic boat ride

Virginia is a state full of rivers that have shaped its history. In addition to serving as a major form of transportation and shipping, the rivers also have served as an important hub of

  • Potomac River – This river stretches through the northernmost part of Virginia, close to the border with DC and Maryland. One of the most incredible tours you can do on the Potomac is a scenic boat ride to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.
  • Elizabeth River – Located near the coast of Virginia, the Elizabeth River has historically served as an important base for naval activity. You can learn more about this history on the Victory Rover Naval Cruise, which takes you around the Elizabeth River on a 2-hour adventure.
  • James River – In Virginia’s capital, Richmond, you can take a tour by boat with Richmond Canal Cruises that explores some of the city’s natural and historic attractions.
    For bookings, call (804) 649-2800.
Apples in Virginia
Apple picking is a Virginia tradition (Photo: Pixabay)

Sample Local Foods and Drinks

5. Eat ALL the fall foods

If you’re anything like me, you probably love food. And, because the crops and produce available in Virginia changes throughout the year, it means the local food options change with the seasons. Some of the most popular foods in Virginia in the fall include:

  • Apple EVERYTHING (Hot apple cider, apple strudel, and apple desserts (apple pie, anyone?!) are some of my personal favorite fall delights.)
  • Pumpkin pie (and desserts)
  • Roasted chestnuts
  • Fresh oysters

The best place to find these are at local farms, farmer’s markets, and fall festivals.

6. Go apple picking and cider tasting

Fall is the season of apples in Virginia, and one of the most fun fall traditions for people of all ages is to visit an orchard, pick some apples, and enjoy some apple-flavored treats. The season for apples usually runs from late August through November, so gathering apples at the orchard is one of the best things to do in Virginia in the fall. Growing up here, it was just something everyone did in the fall!

Apple Orchards in Virginia

Most of the orchards in Virginia are located in the mountainous regions toward the western side of the state, near the borders of Maryland and West Virginia extending down to Charlottesville and further south. Some really fun apple orchards around Virginia you can visit in the fall include:

  • Stribling Orchard – Located towards the border with Maryland, Stribling Orchard is a charming, family owned peach and apple orchard. This orchard is perfect for people who live in Northern Virginia or who are coming from states to the north. They also sell a variety of fresh farm products like sauces, jams, cider, and cheese.
    (Address: 11587 Poverty Hollow Lane, Markham, VA 22643; Phone: (540) 364-3040)
  • Carter Mountain Orchard – Located near Charlottesville in the Blue Ride Mountain region, Carter Mountain Orchard is a large orchard that offers all kinds of different apples. It’s also a family owned orchard that serves delicious apple treats and desserts, and is perfect for people coming in from Richmond or Central Virginia.
    (Address: 1435 Carters Mountain Trail, Charlottesville, VA 22902; Phone: (434) 977-1833)
  • Johnson’s Orchard – In southwestern Virginia lies Johnson’s Orchard, which is a lovely orchard located just outside of the city of Lynchburg. It’s near a wonderful outdoor area known as the Peaks of Otter, which makes Johnson’s Orchard perfect for a day trip of apple picking and hiking. There’s also a winery next door!
    (Address: 1218 Elmos Rd, Bedford, VA 24523; Phone: (540) 586-3707)
beer brewery in Virginia
Virginia has some pretty amazing local brews! (Photo: Pixabay)

7. Sip some local brews

The mountains of Virginia aren’t just for hiking; they’re also a wonderful place to brew beer, cider, and spirits. As a dark beer lover, fall is the perfect time to find ales with nutty and toasty flavors. While most cities in Virginia have at least one brewery, one of my favorites in the state include:

  • Blue Bee Cider (Richmond, VA) – As Virginia’s first urban cidery, this cute little shop opened in 2014 and serves several varieties of cider, ranging from very dry to sweet.
  • Hardywood Brewery (Richmond, VA) – Hardywood is one of Richmond’s most beloved breweries. It’s also one of Virginia’s most eco-friendly breweries, powered 100% by renewable energy.
  • Three Notch’d Brewery (Charlottesville, VA) – A local craft brewery in Charlottesville, Three Notch’d also offers homemade sodas and ciders in addition to beer. Try their specialty ghost beer.

8. Go for a farm visit

Apples aren’t the only crops that grow in Virginia! In fact, the agricultural offering in the state is quite diverse due to the temperate climate and variety of landscapes. Farmers in Virginia raise fruits, vegetables, herbs, and livestock. Visiting a farm is a wonderful way to support local businesses, learn about Virginia’s agricultural history, and enjoy the crisp fall air.

Corn maze in foggy morning
Photo: DM // Flickr CC

Enjoy Virginia Culture (and Quirks)

9. Listen to traditional Virginia music

Tucked into the streets of southwest Virginia, the Crooked Road is Virginia’s music trail, offering a variety of stops at country, bluegrass, jazz, and fiddle music venues inherent to the region’s rich history. The route passes through over 300 miles, 50+ towns, and dozens of different historic sites. Along the Crooked Road, visitors can listen to all kinds of live music in locally-owned, historic bars, theaters, and venues.

Among some of the most notable stops on the trail are the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, the Blue Ridge Music Center, and the Ralph Stanley Museum & Traditional Mountain Music Center.

10. Unleash your inner Harry Potter nerd

Every year, in September, hundreds of witches and wizards (or wannabes) gather in Staunton, Virginia for the annual Queen City Mischief and Magic Festival. Harry Potter nerds, don’t be shy! (I’m a big one myself, admittedly.) Here, it’s encouraged and expected for visitors to dress up in their favorite wizard cloak and bring a wand along for some serious, geeky Hogwarts fun.

During the festival, the charming, historic city of Staunton turns into a Diagon Alley of sorts where visitors can mix potions, try butterbeer, see dragons, and try a magical escape room challenge. There’s a mixture of free and paid events, so check their online schedule for more information about dates and happenings.

And don’t worry, muggles are also welcome. (Just make sure you’ve read at least some of the Harry Potter books so you know what’s going on! You won’t regret it, I promise.)

11. Visit a pumpkin patch (and carve one!)

Fall, especially October, is the season for pumpkins. Trust me, guys, pumpkin patches are fun to visit no matter how old you are. You can pick your favorite orange pumpkins and prepare them for the Halloween season ahead. Not only can you bring home some pumpkins, but you can also eat pumpkin-themed foods, like pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie. Belvedere Plantation (Fredericksburg, VA) and Cox Farms (Centreville, VA) are some Virginia favorites. is also super helpful for finding a good pumpkin patch or farm near you.

12. Get spooked at a haunted field

One of the most unique things you can find in Virginia around Halloween is haunted farms. Nope, not haunted houses, or haunted mansions…entire haunted fields. For a good scare around halloween time, you can head to some of the famed haunted farms to spend a night in the cool, autumn air and maybe scream your lungs out. These temporary exhibitions usually have light displays, props, and human actors that make the experience extra scary.

If this sounds intriguing to you, some of the best haunted fields in Virginia include Ashland Berry Farm’s Terror on the Farm and Cox Farms Fields of Fear.

13. Learn to square dance

There’s nothing more fun than a night out dancing, and learning to square dance is one of the best things to do in Virginia in the fall. The square dance is one of Virginia’s most beloved dances and you can learn how to do it right in the heart of the state! You can find square dance events all around Virginia on the Virginia Square Dancers website. There’s also a square dance-specific club called Circle 8 Square Dance Club, located in Staunton, VA.

Mount Vernon VA
Mount Vernon is a lovely historic site, especially in the fall! (Photo: Pixabay)

14. Visit historic Virginia homes and plantations

As one of the oldest states in the United States, Virginia has a ton of beautiful historic homes you can explore. While some of these historic sites reveal some of the dark sides of American history, such as slavery and the Civil War, they’re also an integral part of the history of the United States. If the fall, these historic grounds light up with the beautiful fall colors, and many offer visitors the chance to explore both the homes and the gardens that surround them.

Some of the most beautiful and famous historic homes you can visit around the state – many of which once belonged to US presidents – include Mount Vernon, Monticello, Poplar Forest, Maymont, and Montpelier.

15. Get lost in a corn maze

Corn mazes are a fun and family-friendly way to enjoy the cool air and the rural atmosphere in Virginia. In fact, corn mazes are one of the most beloved things to do in Virginia in the fall because they’re so addicting, competitive, and fun. Usually these “maize mazes” start popping up around the state in September and last until November or so.

Some of the best and biggest corn mazes around the state include Liberty Mills Farm (Orange, VA), Yoder’s Farm (Rustburg, VA), and Cox Farms (Centreville, VA).

16. Attend a local fall festival

Fall is the time for outdoor festivals in Virginia, and there’s really no better way to experience Virginia in the fall. Most of these festival feature great eats, live music, family-friendly activities, and local businesses and stalls to enjoy. They also demonstrate much of Virginia’s heritage and local cuisine. Some of the most unique and wacky fall festivals in Virginia include:

For more information about events nearby, you can find a much longer list of fall festivals in Virginia here.

Racing Down the Great Falls
Photo: Rob Shenk // Flickr CC

Get Outdoors

17. Head to a national or state park

Arguably the best way to enjoy Virginia in the fall (and its amazing fall weather) is to get outdoors. Some of the most beautiful places in the state to take a hike are the national and state parks. Virginia is home to several national park and state parks, so there are endless opportunities to enjoy fresh air no matter where you live.

Here are a few of the most popular parks to visit in the fall:

18. Saddle up for a horseback ride

Horseback riding is a wonderful way to trek through the mountains and get some fresh air amidst the fall foliage. Luckily, Virginia offers many opportunities to saddle up and explore some of its most beautiful regions by horseback, and fall is one of the best times to give it a try.

If you’d like to take a mountainous horse ride, North Mountain Outfitter (Swoope, VA) provides horse rentals and guide services for half-day and full-day rides through the Blue Ridge area. Alternatively, Appalachian Horseback Riding Adventures (Grayson County, VA) offers mountain horse rides up to the Blue Ridge Highlands and peaks at very reasonable prices. If you’d prefer a longer horseback getaway, Shangri La Guest Ranch offers riding retreats in the pastoral area surrounding South Boston, VA.

19. Visit one of Virginia’s beautiful waterfalls

Virginia is not only home to forests and mountains, but some amazing waterfalls too. Towards the beginning of fall, the waterfalls in Virginia flow as quickly as in summertime. By the end of the season, however, many of them begin to freeze and form magnificent ice formations. What you’ll see depends largely on the weather and when in the fall you visit the falls. Some amazing waterfalls in Virginia to explore include:

Cascade Falls, Pembroke, Virginia
Cascade Falls in the end of the season – totally frozen over!

20. Try some adventure sports in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Much like many of the other tips in this section, adventure activities are one of the best way to get your blood flowing and explore some outdoor areas of Virginia in the fall. Some options around the state include stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, rock climbing, canoeing, zip lining, and more. As an example, you can rent a kayak in Virginia beach and paddle around the waters, hop on a mountain bike in Harrisonburg, or take a zip line through Williamsburg. Of course, you can also always go hiking on Virginia’s many trails, too.

21. Watch the fall pony roundup in Chincoteague

Virginia’s Chincoteague island is home to wild ponies, the subject of many books and movies. While the ponies can be elusive throughout the year while running free, fall is a wonderful time to see these ponies in real life during the the Fall Pony Roundup.

Twice a year, local officials in Chincoteague round up the island’s wild ponies to check on their health. Luckily, one of these magnificent happenings usually happens in the fall, and you can see the great pony roundup for yourself!

Chincoteague wild ponies
Photo: pontla // Flickr CC

22. Go for a weekend camping trip

Fall – especially early in the season – is the perfect time of year to go camping in Virginia. You can skip the mosquitoes and humidity of summer and simply enjoy the crisp air and autumn colors of the state’s more rural areas. Most national and state parks in Virginia have campsites located nearby, including Shenandoah, Great Falls, and more. Be sure to check the websites for campsite closures, as these tend to shut down toward the middle or end of the camping season.

23. Bask in the fall foliage

One of the best things about Virginia in the fall is that you don’t really have to be doing anything to enjoy it fully. Set up your hammock between some trees, light a campfire, and simply hang out and enjoy the fall colors. Or, alternatively, go winery hopping in the Blue Ridge area and enjoy locally produced tastings. Whatever you do, don’t simply sit inside and let the beauty of fall in Virginia pass you by. It will be winter before you know it!

Blue Ridge Virginia
Fall colors ablaze in the Blue Ridge Mountains (Photo: Pixabay)

Virginia Travel Tips

Getting Into Virginia

The largest airports in Virginia are Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA), Dulles International Airport (IAD), and Richmond International Airport (RIC). You can check for cheap flight deals and compare prices on Google Flights or CheapoAir.

If you’re located on the East Coast, you can drive in or take a MegaBus from basically any major cities in the region. It’s also possible to take an Amtrak train to stations in Richmond, Williamsburg, Fredericksburg, or Washington, DC. However, unless you really love trains, I’d stick with a bus or a car. The Amtraks tend to get delayed or run very slowly.

Getting Around Virginia

The best way to get from place to place in Virginia is with a car. Many attractions are in small towns with poor public transportation. Additionally, hiking trails are impossible to get to without your own transportation. However, if you’re not planning on driving your own car in, don’t fret! You can easily rent a car from any of the major airports or cities. I recommend renting with Hertz – I use them every time I need to rent a car.

Where to Stay in Virginia

Some of the charm of being in Virginia is finding small, family-owned inns to stay in around the state. However, if you’d rather base yourself somewhere, here are a few of the main cities you might consider:

  • Richmond – Richmond, VA is the state capital and the perfect base for exploring Central Virginia. If you’re hoping to stay in Richmond, the Berkeley Hotel is a charming and historic place to stay.
  • Charlottesville – For access to mountains in Western and Southwestern Virginia, Charlottesville is a cozy and fun base. In Charlottesville, the Clifton Inn is a perfect pick for a Charlottesville weekend break.
  • Virginia Beach – Located on the coast, Virginia Beach is a wonderful getaway to get some sun and sand in the last few warm days of the year. We recommend staying at Four Sails Resort in Virginia Beach.
  • Washington, DC – While obviously not Virginia, Washington, DC gives you great access to Northern Virginia and some of the mountains and parks bordering Maryland and West Virginia. Here are our recommendations for places to stay in Washington, DC.

Click here to read reviews and compare hotel prices in Virginia

The Bottom Line

Virginia is the perfect place to plan a fall getaway, as there’s so much to do and see! If you want to experience a beautiful fall destination, be sure to add Virginia to your fall getaway list.

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Cover photo by Matthew Paulson (Flickr Creative Commons)