Weekender trips to get away from it all

So you want to get away from the city but avoid the crowds at Ocean City and the Delaware beaches? We've got you covered. Here's five weekender trips for those adventurous enough to try something new this summer. Just call us Rand McNally. Or don't, because we'd rather not be named "Rand." JORDAN BARTEL, B

St. Michaels
DISTANCE FROM DOWNTOWN BALTIMORE: 71 miles; 1 hour, 35 min.
YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS: St. Michaels is small enough for a day trip, but you'll likely not want to leave. First, check out Talbot Street, packed with tiny shops, art galleries, restaurants and a few bars. The town even boasts its own award-winning winery, St. Michaels Winery (st-michaels-winery.com). But much of the town can be explored without spending a penny. A walk around the lovely coastal waters, watching the boats go by, is a perfect escape.
IF YOU DO ONE THING: Enjoy one of the many available cruise tours. We had good luck with Patriot Cruises (patriotcruises.com), which departs every 90 minutes. Plus, they served alcohol.
INFORMATION: stmichaelsmd.org


Harpers Ferry, W.Va. (above, photo by the Baltimore Sun)
DISTANCE: 67 miles; 1 hour, 14 min.
YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS: Ah, the great outdoors. The Appalachian Trail runs through Harpers Ferry, a national historic park (nps.gov/hafe), so there are tons of hiking and biking trails and battlefield locales — and 19th-century streets without annoying re-enactors. Whitewater rafting is popular here (one option: River & Trail Outfitters, rivertrail.com). More offbeat options include the self-explanatory John Brown Wax Museum (johnbrownwaxmuseum.com) and ghost tours of the town (obejoyfull.com).
IF YOU DO ONE THING: Take part in a guided fishing trip through The Angler's Inn (theanglersinn.com).
INFORMATION: historicharpersferry.com

Lancaster County, Pa.
DISTANCE: 84 miles; 1 hour, 40 min.
YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS: Amish people! Well, Pennsylvania Dutch country is also full of charming farmland and covered bridges. But also Amish buggy rides (such as A is for Amish Buggy Rides in Bird-in-Hand and Ronks)! Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse (kitchenkettle.com) is a popular shopping area featuring local wares.  If you want to explore Lancaster County's rolling hills minus a guided tour, rent a ride at Countryside Scooter and Bike Rentals (countrysidescooters.com).
IF YOU DO ONE THING: Book a farm stay. A multitude of farms and bed and breakfasts offer rustic packages. We're talking chores: milking cows, collecting eggs. Oh, come on. You're up for it.
INFORMATION: padutchcountry.com


Charlottesville, Va.
DISTANCE: 161 miles; 3 hours, 16 min.
YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS: Start at the center of town, which boasts a long outdoor plaza-mall at 610 E. Main St., full of cafes, markets, restaurants and shopping. For an old-fashioned theater experience, try The Paramount (theparamount.net), which has a schedule alternating between movies and concerts. History buffs must make the pilgrimage to Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello (monticello.org). And we have to mention that there are many wineries close by, even one, Blenheim Vineyards, (blenheimvineyards.com) owned by Dave Matthews. Yes, that Dave Matthews.
IF YOU DO ONE THING: See a live show. Charlottesville's renowned for its music scene. The Charlottesville Pavilion (charlottesvillepavillion.com) has a packed summer schedule, as does the more indie Jefferson Theater (jeffersontheater.com).
INFORMATION: pursuecharlottesville.com

Duck, N.C.
DISTANCE: 319 miles; 5 hours, 44 min.
YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS: Rivaling St. Michaels for quaintness supremacy, Duck, in the Outer Banks, is an oasis north of the often more-crowded Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. The clean, quiet beaches are a godsend. So, you'll want to spend most of your time on the beach. There are many ATV, kayak and sailing rentals available. Neighboring Southern Shores has a few golf courses. And you might as well check out the site of the first manned flight nearby at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kitty Hawk (nps.gov/wrbr).
IF YOU DO ONE THING: Easy. Sit on the beach. Close your eyes. Take it in. Repeat.
INFORMATION: ducknc.org 

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