I love nothing more than hitting the road and exploring food, shops, neighborhoods, and outdoor adventures. Summer is THE time to do that! I'm sure you've read up about plenty to do outside of Washington. So, I asked a few friends around the country for a great compilation of getaways that are NOT in the DMV area. Time to get away!
Maggie B. - Chicago, IL
Avid cyclist & Keeper of the Double Doxies Murphy & Finnigan @double_doxies
- Door County, WI- 4 hours from Chicago
I am a HUGE fan of Chicago in the summertime. However, it's always nice to get away for a change of scenery. Door County, Wisconsin, an easy four-hour drive from The Windy City, sits at the tip of a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Door County is known for its "fish boils" and cherry delicacies (pies, jams, and even wine)! It is also home to many cute shops and unique attractions. No visit is complete without a trip to Sister Golden Shop in Fish Creek. Run by a dynamic mother-daughter duo (Vicki and Brooke), the 1930s house is as charming as its owners. Sister Golden carries one-of-a-kind jewelry, beautiful rugs, candles, cards, and many other unique items. Find your way to the "back room" which is filled with Vicki's custom prints. Vicki forages her own garden to create works of art made from 100% mother nature like twigs, leaves, and tiny petals - no glue or tape!
- Just north of Sturgeon Bay, stop by The Farm.. This popular attraction has been around since 1965 and attracts little AND big kids. You can visit farm animals in their natural surroundings and enjoy nature trails and various exhibits. Who doesn't want to feed a baby goat or hold a baby chick?
- Leave time for a short ferry ride (appx 30 min) to Washington Island. Two highlights of the island are the Stavkirke Church and the Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm. The church was hand-built in the 1980s & 1990s by locals and pays an ode to the influence of Scandinavian immigrants to the area. It's hard to find but worth the detective work!Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm is the largest single-site lavender grower in the Midwest and is at the corner of Airport and Townline Roads. You can usually smell it from miles away! Walk through thousands of lavender plants and stop by the gift shop for lavender candles and essential oils made onsite. Hint: if you don't make it to Washington Island, many of their products are sold at stores on the peninsula.
Who wants to head to Wisconsin with me?!
Nicole D. - Jersey City, NJ
Runner and Gardener
Northeast Regional President, Whole Foods Market
- Hudson, New York is a charming town located in Columbia County, about two hours north of NYC. The town’s main street, Warren Street, is lined with antique shops, cafes, restaurants, and local vintage artisan shops. You can browse furniture, home décor, clothing, and accessories. There are also several art galleries showcasing works by local and regional artists. I love the rich history and the well-preserved architecture you will find throughout the town.
- Foodies will love the town’s diverse dining scene, which includes farm-to-table restaurants, bakeries, and cafes serving everything from artisanal coffee and pastries to gourmet pizza. Many of these eateries use locally sourced ingredients.
Le Perche – a French bakery and café that serves croissants, baguettes, and quiche as well as delicious lunch and dinner.
Backbar – a speakeasy-style cocktail bar. I love the cozy and intimate ambiance with a vast selection of craft cocktails, beers + wine. They also serve small bites and charcuterie boards.
Feast and Floret – a restaurant + a floral shop. Can you imagine? The restaurant offers farm-to-table dining with house-made pasta. The floral shop will make you a hand-selected, curated bouquet they will bring to you at your table. It is a must-visit!
Where to stay:
The Maker Hotel - a luxury boutique hotel, housed in a former factory building that has been renovated to create a unique and stylish space. The hotel also has a coffee bar, restaurant, and a stunning cocktail bar and lounge area.
Some of my favorite stops along Warren Street:
The Quiet Botanist - step inside this beautiful shop, thoughtfully designed with the most unique botanicals and dried flowers in every corner of the shop.
Red Chair on Warren - a popular destination for antique enthusiasts known for its carefully curated selection of vintage furniture, décor, and collectibles - a must-see.
Talbott and Arding - a specialty shop filled with an amazing artisanal cheese selection, cured meats, sandwiches, and so many specialty items along with fresh produce – it is worth checking out!
Clove & Creek Hudson - a quaint shop filled with unique and handcrafted items made by local artisans, everything from candles to ceramics, and textiles to kitchenware – love their household items!
Spotty Dog Books & Ale - an enjoyable atmosphere with a great selection of beer, wine, + books.
For those who love the outdoors, Hudson offers plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding countryside. There are several hiking/running trails in the area with beautiful views of the Catskill Mountains.
Overall, a weekend in Hudson, New York, promises a relaxing and enjoyable getaway, filled with great goods, shopping, and outdoor adventures, as well as a chance to recharge while surrounded by some of the nicest folks you will meet.
I ❤️ NY
Heidi B. (Raleigh, NC)
- Educator, Aspiring Artist, and dog-mom to Jimbo - @jimboraleighdog
I went to college in Raleigh, NC and it has definitely changed since then. But one thing I loved was how easy it was to get to the ocean or the mountains.
Here are your gems for Raleigh:
2 hours 45 minutes from Raleigh
(Part of North Carolina’s “Crystal Coast”)
Wrightsville Beach (2 hours from Raleigh - near Wilmington)
- Durham Bulls
Go check out a game! Ever seen the movie, Bull Durham?
- Duke Gardens - It takes a lot for an NC State grad to recommend a visit to Duke!
- Eno River Park - Great hiking
Joy Hancock, Cary, NC
Educator, New Englander in North Carolina
Joy’s list is subliminally trying to tell me to visit her in Cary which is a pretty easy drive from DC. And it is a bit ‘unsung’ among travelers. All of these spots are within walking distance, which we love.
Pros Epicurean Market and Cafe - “family owned - very tasty!” I’ve been to this one and can confirm the tastiness.
RBF, Your Authentic Champagne Bar - cannot wait to visit. The name alone has me dying. And, it is a no-tipping model - meaning they pay a living wage to their staff.
Sidebar - looking for cocktails? Check out the cute menu at this spot - love the design!
Mayton Inn - for a boutique hotel.
Downtown Cary Park - I'm in love with our parks here in Montgomery County - and I think Wake County is up there with the best. They have been working on this park for nearly 20 years.
The Cary Theatre - Built in 1946, this historical theater screens current movies & hosting film festivals & live performances. Get some culture while you’re in the south.
Renee S., Redondo Beach, CA
Renee is an accomplished singer/songwriter living in California by way of Long Island, NY. She’s also married to my cousin.
Here are your gems for Pasadena, CA
- My husband Patrick and I are lucky enough to live in Redondo Beach, one of 3 beach towns hugging the California coast, just south of LAX. If we want to get on a plane for a scenery change, it's pretty easy. But, if we want a "staycation", one of our favorite destinations is Pasadena. Just 38 miles from Redondo Beach, Pasadena feels like a world away.
- Nestled next to the San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena has a lot to offer. We love staying at the historic Langham Huntington Hotel. The hotel opened in 1914 and was fully restored in 2020. Once settled there, a day at Descanso Gardens is always a wonderful immersion in nature. The amazing Huntington Library, is more than a library. It is also a fabulous way to spend a day. The spectacular Botanical Gardens, vibrant Art Gallery, and one of the world's great research libraries offer opportunities to stimulate your mind, stir your heart, or refresh your spirit.
Where will you go first?!