Families who live in the DC area have a nice array of kid-friendly getaways within a day's drive, stretching from lower New York State to North Carolina and west to the Appalachian range. These popular suggestions can all be reached in six hours or less, based on the estimated drive time from Mapquest.com.
Drive time: 2 hrs, 14 mins.
Talk about sweet. Hershey is a town where lampposts are shaped like Hershey's Kisses and the pervasive candy theme is, well, just chocolate icing on the cake. The big draw is Hersheypark, whose impressive array of roller coasters make it one of the best theme parks on the East Coast.
Drive time: 2 hrs, 25 mins.
The 105-mile Skyline Drive traces the spine of the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering many jumping off points into the 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park. Just 123 miles from DC, Shenandoah offers myriad ways to explore through hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, and more.
Drive time: 2 hrs, 25 mins.
Built as part of the New Deal to create jobs during the Great Depression, the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway links the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains national parks and crosses the Appalachian highlands between North Carolina and Virginia. With a top speed of 45 mph, the parkway’s lazy pace lets you soak in the gorgeous scenery.
Drive time: 3 hrs, 4 mins.
Accessible by boat or by car off Virginia's Eastern coast over the Route 175 bridge, this small and serene island is the gateway to the Assateague Island National Seashore—a nature refuge that is home of the herds of wild ponies made famous in the classic children's book Misty of Chincoteague.
Drive time: 3 hrs, 6 mins.
Known as a prime leaf-peeping destination in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the four-season Wintergreen Resort is located adjacent to the Blue Ridge Parkway and offers a slew of family activities on its 11,000 acres, including ziplining, tubing, and tackling the Discovery Ridge Adventure Center with its climbing wall and trampoline.
Drive time: 3 hrs, 15 mins.
Virginia Beach is a huge summer resort town and the largest tourist destination in Virginia. Drawn by 20 miles of unbroken beachfront, families have always flocked to here but in recent years the beach playground has gotten a facelift and a fresher, upgraded image.
Drive time: 4 hrs, 20 mins.
One of America's best all-inclusive resorts for families, the oh-so-grand Skytop Lodge in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains has been welcoming families since 1928. There's a huge choice of activities, including zip-lining, kayaking, archery, tennis, boating, biking, rock climbing, and hiking, plus an excellent supervised children’s program, and golfers get a bonus that’s virtually unheard of: unlimited green's fees.
Drive time: 4 hrs, 53 mins.
Another of America's best all-inclusive resorts for families, Rocking Horse Ranch is a popular, extremely kid-centric dude ranch in the hinterland of the Hudson Valley, just 90 minutes north of New York City. Besides the usual ranch activities such as horseback riding (kids must be at least 7 years old) and hay rides, there's an enormous wagonload of other fun things to do, such as rock climbing, archery, swimming, tennis, and even water skiing and banana boat rides on the ranch’s small private lake.
Drive time: 5 hrs, 54 mins.
On the southern coast of North Carolina, Carolina Beach and nearby Kure Beach are less commercially developed than many other beach towns in the Southeast and offer a relaxed, family-friendly vibe. Both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach deliver a classic beach town experience, with lovely stretches of sand and fishing piers.