Three Perfect Destinations: Baltimore, D.C. and Richmond

While living outside the U.S., I’ve fielded tons of questions on how to have the best vacation in America. People all over the world come far and wide to take trips across the U.S., usually hitting the big, iconic hotspots. Many people I meet in London and throughout Europe have been to New York City, Orlando, or even Los Angeles. But the rest of the country is often lost on them.

Car viewPhoto via Flickr by raphael.chekroun

I get it. For two decades I’ve road tripped and flown all over the country, barely reaching about half the states. But once you’ve hit the big ones, it’s so fun to see new destinations that not everyone reaches. Roads are wide and completely manageable by all types of travelers, and driving gives you the freedom of leisure at your own pace.

Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is often overlooked, which is such a shame. I have so many fond memories of visiting this city, catching summer ballgames, and eating mountains of fresh crab legs. It’s a perfect first stop on an East Coast road trip for a few days of urban exploration. See neighborhoods like Mount Vernon or take a break from driving and ride the free Circulator bus around town. Read more about Baltimore here!

Washington, D.C.

National MallPhoto via Flickr by pml2008

It’s always been a hotbed place of politics, but it’s also a fascinating place to visit. It has all the modern American history you could desire as well. Although travelers from London are accustomed to many museums being free, Washington, D.C. is unique as it also has museums free and open to the public. Nowhere else is culture so readily accessible. Plus, it’s a little more than an hour from Baltimore, making for an easy second stop.

Highlights include a picnic in the giant National Mall, which the Washington Monument overlooks. The Natural History Museum is also a must, as is the street art featured on Capitol Hill at The Fridge gallery. At night, swing by the bumping Veritas wine bar or stop by the discreet hotel lounge Off the Record.

Richmond, Virginia

Poe MuseumPhoto via Flickr by Gamma Man

Our last stop on the road trip is Richmond, two hours south of Washington, D.C. I have old friends down in Virginia and have driven this route all the way from Boston. It’s a scenic capital city full of handsome brick homes and hotels that are historic and aesthetically pleasing.

Along the river are countless cyclists, so you can join them for a bike ride and stop at scenic cafés. Enjoy more shopping and grazing in Carytown, and then have a look back through history at the American Civil War Museum. Although his work is creepy, I’d love to pop into the Edgar Allan Poe Museum, too. The museum hosts wild happy hours and live music during the summer to sweeten the deal.

Have you done a U.S. road trip? Do you stop along the way or drive straight though? How many states have you visited?

Author: EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA expat living in London, UK. She is a freelance writer and owner of group travel site PureWander.com. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for about a decade. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Twitter @Crooked_Flight.

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