My Top 5 Budget-Friendly Day Trips

Periodically I’ll post my top picks. This is the latest My Top Picks posts. Links to the original posts will be embedded in the text. Let me know what you think of this new blog feature!

6. Visit the National Zoo
Whether you take the metro or drive and park ($22 flat rate for parking), the Smithsonian National Zoo is a bargain! This is one of the nicest zoos on the East Coast. Lots of animals, lots of fun — don’t miss the pandas! The Zoo is on a hillside, so you’ll get your exercise too. Watch for the post on a day in the zoo, coming in November!

5. Biking or hiking the C&O Canal
With the amount of time I spend on the C&O Canal, I’m surprised it isn’t showing up in more Top Picks lists! Although some of the lock houses and exhibits have entrance fees, these are usually nominal; some of the more popular areas, such as Great Falls, has a parking fee — but that’s also nominal. Spending the day hiking or biking the C&O Canal is an easy way to enjoy a budget-friendly day trip! Check out my favorite sections: Great Falls, Williamsport, Maryland Heights, and Brunswick.

4. Go to a Maryland winery; pack a picnic.
Many of the Maryland wineries — a couple of the Virginia and Pennsylvania wineries — will let you bring your own picnic. With tasting fees running between $5 and $10, going to two or three wineries, enjoying the ambiance, is an easy way to stay within a budget! If you purchase just 1 bottle of wine to enjoy while you’re there, you can keep your budget to about $50 for the entire day. Check the winery’s website to ensure they allow you to bring your own food. Check out here and here and here for more information about Maryland wineries!

3. Go on a ghost tour.
You get to hear interesting stories told (and who doesn’t enjoy a good story?) while seeing interesting sights and strolling around on a pleasant evening. Most ghost tours cost between $10 and $15, making this an ideal way to enjoy a budget-friendly activity! Check out more about ghost tours in Washington, DC; Frederick, Gettysburg, Ellicott City, and Annapolis. Bonus: they won’t charge you extra if you actually see a ghost!

2. Explore a State or National Park
Really, you can’t get much more budget friendly than a picnic and a day hiking! My favorite local park (for me) is Patapsco River Valley State Park. I go biking there and I go walking with my dogs, family and friends. I’ve volunteered there also.

1. Gettysburg
With several museums — the Gettysburg Heritage Museum and the Shriver Museum House — with entrance fees of less than $8, this is an easy place to do on a budget. Touring the battlefield is free, although there is a significant fee to enter the Visitor’s Center and Museum. With several inexpensive diners and cafes in Gettysburg or fast food places immediately around the park’s visitor’s center, you can do this day trip for two for $50 or less.

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Have you daytripped somewhere interesting? I’d love to hear what you’re doing! Email [email protected] if you’re interested in being a guest-blogger!