While the precise delineation of what is called the Mid-Atlantic region is a bit hazy and will often depend on who you ask, the Washington Metropolitan Area, according to an informal consensus, forms the nucleus of this culturally diverse area of the United States. From bustling metropolises such as New York City and Philadelphia, to sleepy villages and Rust Belt Towns whose glory days are firmly in the past, the Mid-Atlantic region is as much a historical goldmine as it is a visual delicacy. Picture the Poconos, the Adirondacks, and the Assateague Island. Then imagine strolling through the streets of Annapolis and Harpers Ferry and Washington DC. While 3 days will be painfully short, here are seven destinations you can squeeze in while exploring the Mid-Atlantic region.
If you have not heard of Staunton, there is some news you need to catch up on. Nestled in the heart of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Staunton, where Fredrick House is secreted, was the first Virginia community to receive a “Great American Main Street Award.” If you are wondering how much time to work with, Staunton is about 157 miles southwest of Washington DC. Frederick House, the under-the-radar property you should set as your base, is a 20-room inn that is made up of 5 historic houses. While this property is delightfully cozy and comfortable, you will particularly like its location. Standing one block off of Staunton’s main street, Fredrick House is close to several gems—such as the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum — that you will want to explore.
Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail
While you will want to explore Staunton, a town the National Trust for Historic Preservation called “One of a Dozen Distinctive Destinations in the United States,” it will almost be criminal to miss out on the Shenandoah Wine Trail. On a trip that will feature the sublime grandeur of the Alleghany in the backdrop—as well as the Blue Ridge and the Massanutten Mountains—a tour of the Shenandoah Wine Trail will be as good for the eyes, as it will be for the tongue. While the 22 wineries that dot this unbelievably scenic expanse will make you spoilt for choice, because of the inadequacy of time, you will need to choose your picks carefully. Bluestone Vineyard, for instance, just about 31 minutes from Staunton, is extremely serene and relaxing. But Barren Ridge Vineyards, located even closer, is just as awesome.
Thomas Jefferson Monticello
John F. Kennedy, once in a dinner honoring Nobel Prize Winners of the Western Hemisphere, commented that the White House gathering was “the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone." A polymath per excellence, Thomas Jefferson could break a horse, design a house, advise on a type of tree, herb, or flower— and originate revolutionary philosophical ideas. What better place to interact with the mind of the author of the Declaration of Independence than at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s hilltop home? Fortunately, Monticello is just about 40 miles east of Staunton. For a history fun, walking room to room in the home of America’s third president, is just what heaven feels like. The morning of the second day—will be a lifetime highlight.
While some may prefer looking for under-the-radar Mid-Atlantic gems and unheard-of towns, the truth is that a trip to the Mid-Atlantic should not omit Washington DC. For starters, the Washington metropolitan area is the heart of what is called the Mid-Atlantic region. Then again, “the District” — or just “DC” — offers a smorgasbord of attractions that will appeal to every type of vacationer. There is the chance to set foot on the Lincoln Memorial, for instance, a world-famous symbol of freedom that played host to arguably the best speech in modern history. For art lovers, the National Gallery of Art is a mind-blowing treasure trove that would be unconscionable to miss. Also, with a natural history collection that is the largest on Earth, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History— is a stand-alone wonder by itself. A good piece of advice is to pick only one or two places, just for a taste of what the capital offers.
About 31 miles east of Washington, lies another Mid-Atlantic marvel that should feature on an itinerary to this part of the country. The Treaty of Paris, for instance, named for the French capital where it was negotiated, was signed in this Maryland charmer. Annapolis also played host to the 1783-84 Continental Congress. You may even consider staying at the Historic Inns of Annapolis whose stonewalls predate the birth of the republic—and where some delegates to the historic convention lodged. Also, curled up on the Severn River, Annapolis is home to the U.S. Naval Academy. A visit to the academy should include some time at the John Paul Jones' Crypt—where the Father of America’s Navy rests in an extravagant sarcophagus below the academy’s chapel.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge
Next on your bucket list should be Virginia's Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Make no mistake, however, this bridge is not for the faint of heart. It is just where danger and excitement sit side by side. Spanning 23 miles, this bridge comprises an 8-mile stretch where motorists completely lose sight of land. The experience of going under the water may be like nothing you have ever experienced. A celebrated feat of engineering, and a world-record breaker when it opened, the Chesapeake Bay Bridge is still one of only 10 in the world of this nature. A trip across this bridge is as much a celebration of human genius—as it is an aesthetic delicacy.
After crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, you’ll enter a sea of attractions that is mind-boggling in scope and number. There is the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, for instance, a waterfront gem along St. Michaels Harbor. That said, Tilghman Island will provide a fitting finale to a Mid-Atlantic adventure. Though eclipsed by St. Michaels, Wylder Tilghman Island scores more on slow pace and natural beauty. That is not to mention the impressive seafood culinary scene this town is famous for. If you are looking for a place to lay your head, as the curtain closes on this adventure, Wylder Tilghman Island is a pet-friendly escape located right on the water. Besides the magical views of the ocean’s waters, this property boasts bocce courts where you will enjoy whiling away time, while your furry friend enjoys the scenes.
The Mid-Atlantic region, a multi-cultural expanse anchored by the Washington DC Metropolitan area, is among the most ideal for a quick weekend getaway. While 3 days will not do this beautiful region justice, you will be able to taste the various delights secreted in this part of America. From exploring heart-ravishing pleasure spots such as the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, to visiting the world-famous home of America’s philosopher-king, to stepping foot on a symbol of freedom from where the world listened to what many consider the greatest speech in modern history, the Mid-Atlantic region should feature on every American bucket list.