A few years ago we had family stay with us for Thanksgiving and thus began the Black Friday tradition of getting out of town for the day.
It’s more fun than trying to coordinate everyone’s sleeping/shopping/eating schedules. Let’s be honest, the food court will still be there on Saturday (or late Thursday/super early Friday), and actually, I’ve already seen quite a few great holiday deals in stores (Hello, my name’s Brooke, and I spent way too much money at the Gap Friends & Family Sale).
So why not take a day trip? Why not check out some sights? Why not remember even more things to be grateful for by visiting a battlefield, National Park, or even the beach? Yes, I said beach. I love my mid-Atlantic mild-weather state. Don’t you?
Philadelphia is probably my favorite Black Friday day trip we’ve done so far. With my sister in laws in tow, we hit up Reading Terminal for a Pennsylvania Dutch breakfast (and pickles) and then headed over to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall for a quick tour of one of the arguably most important buildings in our nation’s history. The day proved to be a bit chilly, and the jaunt to Valley Forge may or may not have been a fail, but the memories are priceless.
A few of my favorite day trips include:
- Gettysburg. I’m still working to convince my husband the next time we visit, we need to tour on bikes. It’s about the only way I haven’t seen Little Round Top.
- Antietam. I must love the area around Antietam so much thanks to my ancestors settling a small nearby town. We happened upon the battlefield after checking out my roots, and I always enjoy going back. If you go, make sure to stop at Nutter’s Ice Cream in Sharpsburg. No trip out of town is complete without ice cream, if you ask me.
- Catoctin Mountain Park. It’s no wonder Pres. Roosevelt chose this area for Camp David. It’s beauty and peace rolled into one park. So close to DC, it’s my slice of the country life and mountains. There are several great hikes, that even young ones can manage. We always stop at Catoctin Mountain Orchard, for what I believe is a jar of the best peach salsa and apricot preserves. If you go, you might want to check out the Thurmont Lions Club— their pit pork/beef/turkey/ham sandwich sales are a favorite for us. We may or may not have the 2013 dates magnet on our fridge.
- Charlottesville. After hitting up T.J.’s digs, this is a great place to grab a bite to eat. The quaint college town square is loaded with great options.
This year we’ll be heading to Shepherdstown, WV. A couple hours away and out of the city, I could sure use some rolling hills and change of scenery.
Shepherdstown is north of Harper’s Ferry and west of Frederick, MD, in the Shenandoah Mountains. It’s the oldest town in West Virginia and is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year.
Here are a few things I’ve been scouting out in Shepherdstown, and adding to my itinerary:
- Visit the Battle of Shepherdstown. One day soon I think I will have visited every civil war battlefield in the greater-DC area. I can thank my history-loving husband for that accomplishment.
- Go on a self-guided walking tour of the historic downtown.
- Pick up a treat at the Shepherdstown Sweet Shop Bakery.
- Make a few stops on the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Two Rivers is the closest portion of the trail, and includes Shepherdstown and nearby Sharpsburg, MD (home of Antietam), just across the Potomac River.
- Do a little shopping and eating in downtown.
I’d also love to head back to nearby Harpers Ferry. Just south of Shepherdstown, we last visited it in the dead of summer, and I’d love to see it this time of year. I’m guessing less crowds and great picture taking opportunities of my little one running around the historic buildings.
Half of going anywhere as a parent is taking pictures, right?
If you’re still set on sticking around town, check out this list of things to do locally. There’s plenty of Thanksgiving fun all weekend long!