You don’t need an overseas voyage to unwind–here are five fun suggestions you can experience within an hour of the city!
By Macey Baird
Not all urban dwellers can escape for long summer voyages, but you don’t have to cross the Atlantic to getaway. Whether you want to hang glide above the country side or round the race track in a Formula 1 car, a “staycation” is a perfect excuse to mix-up your daily routine.
Strap on your goggles, sport a silk scarf, and grab your camera as you take a spin in a 1940’s-era biplane. This historic opportunity allows you to observe the picturesque scenery below from the open cockpit as you are lifted over Virginia’s countryside. The beautiful waterways and majestic Blue Ridge mountains are just added perks as you soar towards Shenandoah Valley. If you want a thrill-seeking expedition, sign up for the Ultimate Acro in which your pilot performs hammerhead turns and rolls on an exhilarating aerobatic flight.
With the engine’s roar at your bomber-jacket clad back and the sun’s rays in your aviator lenses, you’ll find equal parts of nostalgia and exhilaration flying in this vintage Waco (that’s a type of plane for you non-pilots) machine.
For prices and booking: www.blueridgebiplanes.com; 1-888-760-8202
Shenandoah Valley: For two people ($400/60 minutes) Ultimate Acro: For one person ($400/25 minutes)
“American Spirit” Schooner Sail
If you’re looking for a way to stay cool, gather your friends and set sail on a private schooner. Don your favorite nautical clothing and kick back your Sperry-clad feet on the American Spirit, a charming 65-foot replica of what 1800’s maritime life was like. A crew of experienced sailors will navigate your 35-member group down the Potomac toward Old Town Alexandria for a night of breezy capers. Feel like making the day a more intimate experience? Head down to the Southwest Waterfront marina and hop on the schooner for their baseball and boating package, which includes a leisurely sail on the Potomac, culminating in center field seats at the Nat’s stadium. What better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than wind in your hair, a coast down the harbor, and America’s favorite pasttime?
For prices and booking: www.excitations.com
Schooner Sail: For Thirty-Five ($1,275)
Baseball and Boating: For Two ($125); For Three ($185); For Four ($250)
Hot Air Balloon Ride
Pack a picnic and head for the skies in the basket of a hot air balloon as you experience a birds-eye view of the Maryland countryside. Delmarva Balloon Rides will have you soaring above the treetops and
the Choptank River at varying altitudes so you can fully appreciate the region’s topography. As the sun sets behind you, toast to the end of this memorable ride with a glass of champagne and listen to the history of ballooning. They’ll even provide a first flight certificate to each person from the Balloon Federation of America to commemorate the experience.
For prices and booking: www.delmarvaballoonrides.com; 301-814-3297
Delmarva Balloon Ride: For one ($225); Private, all-inclusive couple ($575)
White Water Rafting
Battling the currents of Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., will provide water-soaked excitement for a family-fun adventure or a weekend adrenaline rush with friends. As the Shenandoah River turns into the Potomac, this guided rafting tour offers a chance to both challenge the rapids and sunbathe on the banks. Swim and splash on a tube in the mellow areas and allow the guide to educate you on the Civil War as you float by Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park. They’ll even pack a picnic for your party to enjoy on the embankment of the river as you soak up the rays.
For Prices and Booking: www.rivertrail.com; 888-446-7529
Harper’s Ferry White Water Rafting : $55/Adult; $49/youth; Group discounts available
Horseback Riding and Bed and Breakfast
Looking for a new outdoor activity for laid-back Sunday afternoons? Pull on your boots and head to Virginia’s countryside for a riding through the heart of historic horse country. Set your own pace as you are guided through open meadows and rolling woods. Trainers pick horses for your experience level, with more skillful equestrians free to up the ante while less confidant riders can hang back. On your scenic route back to the city, stop by the farmers market in the Plains for fresh produce or stay a night at the Grey Horse Inn B&B. Enjoy the airy rooms as well as the landscaped gardens that pop with color all summer long. A gourmet country breakfast the next morning will fuel you for the trek home.
For prices and booking: www.highlanderhorses.com; 540-636-4523
Trail Rides: $30/hour Standard; $60/hour Private
For prices and booking: www.greyhorseinn.com