If you’re visiting the DC area and are looking to "get out of the city" I would recommend you take a look at some spots in Virginia on the beautiful Potomac River. The Potomac runs 405 miles from West Virginia and is the border between Maryland and Virginia. There are several historical and nature parks located on the Potomac within a one to two hour southerly drive of the District of Columbia. Despite being so close to one of the world’s major cities these places still preserve the areas natural habitats and wildlife. All of these parks are either free or very low cost and whether you’re alone, with your friends or wife and kids you are sure to enjoy the sheer beauty and tranquility of the region.
Caledon Natural Area, 11617 Caledon Rd., King George, VA 22485; Phone: (540) 663-3861
Caledon Natural area located in King George Virginia is a state run park which boasts 5 hiking trails traversing through various habitats from woodlands, wetlands to waterfront. This park is an absolute nature banaza when it comes to plant and animal life. Caledon is a favorite spot for bird watches as well since it boasts one of the largest populations of bald eagles in the area. The nesting of the birds closes one of the trails for a few months out of the year.
George Washington Birthplace National Monument, 1732 Popes Creek Road, Washington's Birthplace, VA 22443-5115: Phone (804)-224-1732
George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument is located in Westmoreland County Virginia. Being the homefront of one of our countries founding families this area is enveloped with history. A living Colonial farm featuring tobacco and lives stock is present as well as access to the Washington family burial grounds. Access to various histroical buildings as well as guided tours can be arranged. The site also contains a visitor’s center, one-mile loop trail and Potomac River beachfront.
Westmoreland State Park, 1650 State Park Road, Montross, Va. 22520-9717: Phone: (804) 493-8821
Westmoreland State Park is located in Westmoreland County Virginia and allows camping and also provides lodging. Seven nature trails take visitors through several habitats such as wetlands, woodlands and waterfront. Beachfront fishing and swimming as well as a swimming pool, concession stands and restrooms bring a little modernization to this other wise rustic park. You can also collect shark teeth along the beachfront areas. I would recommend visiting in the off seasons since this park gets quite crowded during the summer months.
Stratford Hall Plantation, 483 Great House Road, Stratford, Virginia 22558: Phone ( 804)-493-8038
Stratford Hall Plantation is privately owned and the birthplace of Robert E Lee. The park is still actively farmed and contains seven nature trails, two beautiful gardens a great hall and various other historical buildings. As with Westmoreland State Park fossil shark teeth can be collected from the beachfront area. Over night stays and private events can be scheduled.
I have visited all of the places above and would recommend each and every one of them for various reasons. I’m more in to the nature part of the places however the history is great as well. It is very interesting to have the homes of some of our countries greatest hero’s so closely located to each other. With Washington’s, Stratford and Westmoreland being within 15 minutes of each other you could easily make a day trip out of it and visit each of the sites.