Moon Virginia & Maryland

Including Washington DC


By Michaela Riva Gaaserud

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From museums and monuments to sleepy mountain towns and beaches, history comes to life with Moon Virginia & Maryland. Inside you’ll find:
  • Strategic, flexible itineraries, including a two-week tour of the best of both states and a week on the eastern shore, with ideas for road-trippers, history buffs, claw-cracking crab lovers, and more
  • Can’t miss experiences and unique activities: Peep the changing leaves on Skyline Drive, raft down the Shenandoah River, hike a segment of the Appalachian Trail, or relax on the beach of the quaint (and car-free!) Tangier Island. Wander through world-class museums and marvel at the impressive monuments in Washington DC. Feast on oysters and beer in a historic tavern, hit the trendy eateries in Baltimore, or kick back at a crab shack for a taste of Maryland’s famous blue crab
  • Ways to immerse yourself in history: Step back in time at Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields, experience colonial life in Williamsburg, or tour the homes of former presidents like Jefferson and Washington
  • Local insight from native Virginian Michaela Riva Gaaserud on when to go, where to stay, and how to get around
  • Full-color, vibrant photos and detailed maps throughout
  • Thorough background on the landscape, wildlife, climate, and local culture, plus advice for families, seniors, and international visitors
With Moon Virginia and Maryland’s practical tips and local know-how, you can experience the best of these two remarkable states.

Hitting the road? Try Moon Drive & Hike Appalachian Trail. Staying in the city? Check out Moon Washington DC.


wild pony on Assateague Island

downtown Annapolis

DISCOVER Virginia & Maryland


Planning Your Trip

The Best of Virginia and Maryland


Battles and Brews


If You’re Looking For…

Seven Days on the Eastern Shore



Mather Gorge, Great Falls Park

In Virginia and Maryland, history comes alive. Follow in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson at stately Monticello. Raise a glass at George Washington’s favorite tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. Tread hallowed ground at Civil War battlefields such as Manassas and Antietam.

Alongside monuments, historic sites, and museums, Washington DC offers urban pursuits like fine dining and buzzing nightlife. And don’t overlook Baltimore, which refracts big-city charms through its own quirky lens.

Not far from these thriving metropolitan areas you’ll find sleepy mountain towns, quaint fishing villages, and an abundance of natural beauty. Wander through glowing fall foliage along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Summit the peak of Old Rag Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. Sail on the Chesapeake Bay before cracking a claw at a waterfront crab house in Annapolis. Stroll the bustling Ocean City Boardwalk. Relax on the quiet beaches of Assateague and Chincoteague Islands, where wild ponies roam free.

Welcome to Virginia and Maryland, where there’s always something new to discover.

Luray Caverns

visitors on the grounds of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts


1 Set Sail: Home to the U.S. Naval Academy, the historic seaport of Annapolis boasts that it’s the sailing capital of the world. It’s a great place to take to the water yourself and explore the Chesapeake Bay.

2 Take a Road Trip on Skyline Drive: This stunning 105-mile route runs along the mountain ridges of Shenandoah National Park.

3 Go Back in Time in Colonial Williamsburg: Immerse yourself in colonial life at the largest living history museum in the world.

4 Visit Presidential Homes: Get unique insights into the lives of the founding fathers at George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello (pictured).

5 Tour Civil War Battlefields: More major battles in the Civil War took place in Virginia than in any other state. Today, history buffs can walk in the footprints of the soldiers who fought there.

6 Stroll Baltimore’s Inner Harbor: Spend the day—or several days—exploring the museums, shops, and restaurants along the waterfront promenade, with stops at the National Aquarium (pictured) and the unique collection of historic ships.

7 Hit the Atlantic Beaches: Explore the bustling boardwalk of Ocean City, the historic charm of Lewes, or find a happy medium in Rehoboth Beach.

8 Retreat to Deep Creek Lake: Countless recreation opportunities and abundant wildlife make the largest lake in Maryland a popular vacation spot.

9 Feast on Crab: No trip would be complete without sampling the local crustacean cuisine.

10 Walk the National Mall: The two-mile stretch from the Lincoln Memorial (pictured) to the U.S. Capitol has some of the country’s most iconic monuments, including the Washington Monument and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

11 Learn Something New at the Smithsonian: Its museums and galleries – 11 on the National Mall and an additional 6 in the DC area – make it the largest museum in the world.

Planning Your Trip

Where to Go
Washington DC

Washington DC is nestled between Virginia and Maryland on the banks of the Potomac River. Best known for politics, government, and monuments and museums, the city is also home to universities, nightlife, art, theater, and sports. One of the largest (and cleanest) cities in the country, Washington DC offers trendy neighborhoods, upscale shopping, the National Cathedral, the National Zoo, and professional sports arenas. The nation’s capital is easy to navigate, especially with the help of landmarks such as the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol.

Northern Virginia

From the busy halls of the Pentagon in Arlington and the trendy streets of historic Old Town Alexandria to the quaint alleyways of Middleburg, Northern Virginia is a cornucopia of culture, history, business, outdoor recreation, culinary delights, and shopping. It is a central corridor for the technology industry, yet houses key attractions such as Mount Vernon, the plantation home of George Washington. Northern Virginia’s residents make up roughly one-third of the entire state population.

Coastal Virginia

Visiting Coastal Virginia is a great way to take a break from everyday stresses and learn about history or relax on the beach. Colonial Williamsburg, a living museum that vividly displays what life in colonial times was like, is one of the most popular historical attractions in the country. Just a short drive away are the resort area of Virginia Beach and the sleepy seaside communities on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The region offers port towns, battleships, and beautiful, clean beaches all within a short drive of one another.

Shenandoah and Northwestern Virginia

Shenandoah National Park and Northwestern Virginia form a very special part of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The area is known for its stunning vistas, and picturesque rivers and streams crisscross the region and loosely connect the towns that sit on the park’s doorstep. Take a scenic drive along Skyline Drive, white-water raft down the Shenandoah River, spend an afternoon underground in mysterious Luray Caverns, or take a hike on the famous Appalachian Trail. Choose adventure or opt to relax—there is no wrong answer.

Dark Hollow Falls in Shenandoah National Park

Central and Southern Virginia

Sprawling Central and Southern Virginia offer some of the most beautiful countryside in America. Awesome mountain vistas, rolling foothills, and enchanting fall foliage can be found in this region, especially along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The site of many colleges and universities including the University of Virginia, the region was also home to famous Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. The state capital, Richmond, and historic Fredericksburg, Charlottesville, and Roanoke are key destinations in this vast region.

Maryland’s Capital Region

Trendy, sporty, and historic, Maryland’s Capital Region is a main suburban area of Washington DC and, as such, is densely populated. Montgomery County is sophisticated, urban, and professional with a variety of restaurants, shopping areas, hotels, and upscale neighborhoods. Prince George’s County is a hub for government agencies including NASA and the Department of Agriculture and is home to the Washington Redskins. In addition to offering visitors many interesting attractions, Maryland’s Capital Region also serves as a convenient home base for exploring Washington DC.


The city of Baltimore, once a rough industrial port, has undergone a series of urban renewal plans over the past few decades. As a result, it has blossomed into a major tourist destination that offers many fascinating museums, entertainment venues, professional sporting events such as the Preakness Stakes, and the famous Inner Harbor. Side trips include Westminster, which hosted both Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War, and lovely Havre de Grace, sitting at the head of the Chesapeake Bay.

Annapolis and Southern Maryland

The nation’s sailing capital, Annapolis, is the top destination on the mainland banks of the Chesapeake Bay due to its waterfront location, charming historic district, and trendy boutiques and taverns. A busy recreational harbor, the city features an endless supply of blue crabs, oysters, and other delectable seafood. It is also home to the U.S. Naval Academy. Scenic Southern Maryland offers a slower, relaxed pace in its idyllic seaside towns such as Solomons Island and Chesapeake Beach and historic cities such as St. Mary’s City.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Atlantic Beaches

Picturesque fishing towns, blue crabs, and sunsets—these are all traits of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Chestertown, St. Michaels, and Tilghman Island offer alluring charm and a window into life along the Chesapeake Bay. Maryland’s Atlantic beaches are a symphony of contrasts. Assateague Island calms your spirits as you share the beaches with wild ponies. Ocean City offers an exciting boardwalk and active nightlife. Three neighboring beach communities on the Delaware shore—Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach, and Lewes—are popular vacation spots.

Frederick and Western Maryland

Frederick offers old-town charm, antiques shopping, and terrific food. Some of the region’s finest restaurants are tucked into the appealing historic downtown. Western Maryland is the “mountain side” of the state, where the railroad used to rule and the scenery is tranquil and pretty. Deep Creek Lake, with its 65 miles of shoreline, is a popular getaway spot for Washingtonians. Whether your idea of vacation is visiting Civil War sites, boating, or riding a steam engine through the mountains, you can find it all in Western Maryland.

kayaker at Fell’s Point

Frederick County, Maryland

When to Go

If you have the luxury of choosing your time to visit, late spring (May and June) and fall (September and October) are usually the best times to explore Virginia and Maryland. The weather is most pleasant, and there are fewer tourists to compete with. Although summer is the prime tourist season, unless your plans involve some beach time or a stay in a mountain retreat, the humidity can be a bit overwhelming. The fall foliage in the region is some of the most spectacular in the country. A drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains in October can lead to some of the most stunning scenery in the East. If your focus is on historical sites and museums, the winter months (with the exception of the holiday season) can mean short or no wait times for popular attractions. Just be prepared for some sites to be closed or to have shorter hours.

The Best of Virginia and Maryland

Virginia and Maryland encompass a large amount of land. It can take six hours to drive from Washington DC to the southern end of Virginia and nearly four hours to drive from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore. A 12-day trip provides the opportunity to hit most of the highlights of the region and get a good feel for both states.

Washington DC makes a good starting point for exploration of Virginia and Maryland. It is centrally located and convenient for air, train, bus, and car travel. Spend a couple of days at the beginning of your trip exploring this marvelous city.

Frederick and Western Maryland

From Washington DC, drive three hours northwest to the far reaches of Maryland to enjoy the mountain air at Deep Creek Lake. On your way, stop in Frederick for lunch in the historic downtown area. Overnight in one of the lovely cabins at The Lodges at Sunset Village at Deep Creek Lake.

downtown Frederick


Spend the day at Deep Creek Lake State Park, enjoying the outdoors. Swim, fish, or canoe on the beautiful lake or take a hike on one of the many trails on Meadow Mountain. Spend the night in another local inn or pitch a tent at the Meadow Mountain Campground.

Shenandoah and Northwestern Virginia

Drive 2.25 hours southeast into Virginia and have lunch in charming Winchester at the Union Jack Pub and Restaurant. Then spend a little time touring this lovely town and visit the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley before continuing 30 minutes south to Front Royal, the gateway to Shenandoah National Park. Visit a stunning subterranean world at Skyline Caverns, then spend the night in Front Royal.


Make this day all about Shenandoah National Park. Drive Skyline Drive and stop along the way to take in breathtaking vistas or to do a short hike. End your day by driving to Lexington and spending the night in this historic town.

Central Virginia

Spend the morning in Lexington seeing the sights. Take a carriage tour or visit the Virginia Military Institute and the George C. Marshall Museum. Then make the scenic one-hour drive east to Charlottesville and visit a vineyard before treating yourself to a night at either the The Clifton or Keswick Hall.


Visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello in the morning and then have lunch on the hip downtown mall in Charlottesville. After lunch, drive southeast about an hour to the state capital of Richmond. Orient yourself in this busy city and, if time allows, take in the Science Museum of Virginia. Overnight in Richmond. For a splurge, spend the night in the historic Jefferson Hotel.

Coastal Virginia

Visit Capitol Square in Richmond before heading southeast for a one-hour drive to Colonial Williamsburg. Dine in Merchants Square and spend the night in one of several hotels run by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Colonial Williamsburg


Lose yourself in U.S. history by dedicating the day to exploring Colonial Williamsburg. Visit the museums, shop in the authentic colonial shops, grab a sweet potato muffin at the Raleigh Tavern Bakery, talk to the costumed interpreters, and drink and dine in the local taverns. Spend another night in Williamsburg.

The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News


Make the 1.25-hour drive to Virginia Beach early so you can enjoy a day on the Atlantic. Visit the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and walk the famous boardwalk. Enjoy fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants and spend the night in a hotel right on the ocean.

Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Atlantic Beaches
DAY 10

Drive northeast three hours through the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and continue up the scenic Eastern Shore to Ocean City. Soak in the activity on the busy boardwalk and be sure to eat some Thrasher’s French Fries. Spend the rest of your day at the beach.

DAY 11

Drive two hours northwest to the charming Eastern Shore town of St. Michaels. The sharp contrast to Ocean City will be readily noticeable as you stroll through the historic downtown area full of restaurants and boutiques or perhaps take a cruise from the waterfront. Spend the night in St. Michaels in one of the waterfront inns.

DAY 12

On your last day, drive about an hour northwest over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to Maryland’s capital city, Annapolis. This beautiful and historic waterfront city on the Chesapeake Bay is the perfect place to end your trip. Visit the Annapolis City Dock, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the Maryland State House. Be sure to dine on local blue crabs if you’re a seafood lover.

Battles and Brews

Virginia and Maryland have a colorful history. More Civil War battles were fought in Virginia than in any other state, but the region is also known for its Revolutionary War past, colonial history, and, of course, the development of our nation’s government and capital. This six-day itinerary starts in Yorktown, Virginia, and ends in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The 400-mile trip covers some of the most significant historical cities in the region and includes refreshing stops in some of the best local pubs.

Day 1

Start in Yorktown, Virginia, and take in the Yorktown Battlefield, where the last major battle of the Revolutionary War was fought. The battlefield is part of the Colonial National Historical Park. Stop in the Yorktown Pub for a beer, oysters, and hush puppies. Spend the night in Yorktown at the Hornsby House Inn.

Yorktown Victory Monument in Colonial National Historical Park

Day 2

Drive two hours north to Fredericksburg and spend the day touring the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. Spend a relaxing evening at the Kenmore Inn and have a drink in its historic pub.

Day 3

Drive one hour north to Manassas National Battlefield Park and explore the site of two major Civil War battles. Continue on to the old town area of Manassas and have a beer and a cheesesteak at the Philadelphia Tavern. Spend the night in Manassas.

Day 4

Drive 1.5 hours southwest to the New Market Battlefield, where Union troops were forced out of the Shenandoah Valley. Then head to scenic Luray for dinner and delightful beverages at Moonshadows Restaurant. Spend the night in Luray.


On Sale
Jul 14, 2020
Page Count
600 pages
Moon Travel

Michaela Riva Gaaserud

About the Author

Michaela Riva Gaaserud is a native Virginian and longtime resident of the Washington DC area. Some of her earliest memories are of playing travel guide to visiting relatives as they went to the museums and monuments in Washington DC. Inspired by the enthusiasm she witnessed from first-timers to the city, Michaela began looking for hidden secrets to share with her audience. A particularly inspiring school field trip to the underground depths of the Lincoln Memorial sealed her love for discovering and sharing the marvels of her own backyard.

Michaela has published travel guides on various aspects of the Washington DC region, and her articles have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and international publications such as Canoe & Kayak Magazine and Paddler Magazine. She is also a founding partner at Rainmaker Publishing and an executive producer at Eddyline Media.

Learn more about this author