5 fun destinations that are now easier to get to from DC

Nonstop Fun Key West is now easier to get to with a new nonstop flight.


High mountain

Hippie, nature-packed and sophisticated, this western North Carolina town in Appalachia has long attracted independent thinkers, including George Vanderbilt, whose Biltmore estate put Asheville on the map. “There’s a creative spirit nurtured in the mountain air of the Blue Ridge that flows through restaurants, breweries, galleries and music halls,” says Victoria Isely, a former Washington resident who is now CEO of Explore Asheville. . Besides downtown, neighborhoods to check out include the River Arts District and the booming West Asheville and South Slope neighborhoods, known for their hip boutiques. Already, the summer schedule is full: Asheville Beer Week is from late May to early June; Saturdays in June mean art in the park; and the beginning of August brings one of the oldest gatherings of folk music in the country – the Mountain dance and folk festivalapproaching 100 years of celebration.

Strolling street: The area around Eagle and South Market streets, once the commercial center of the African-American community, is once again a hub for Black-owned businesses and manufacturers. Stroll through “the Block”, a redeveloped area of ​​shops, restaurants and creative spaces.

Endless Sky: Asheville. Asheville photography by Dave Allen/ExploreAsheville.com.

Local bite: Pulled pork sandwich. Try it at Buxton Room BBQwhere the pigs are smoked Eastern North Carolina style, with a vinegar-based sauce.

Sustainable stay: The Cottages on Biltmore Estate– with their solar panels and butterfly-friendly landscaping – continue Vanderbilt’s environmental legacy.

Natural solution: The summit of Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, offers visitors views of some of the oldest mountains in the world. Access it by a short but steep walk from the parking lot or a strenuous two-mile climb.

New nonstop: From Reagan National on American Airlines (in season from May to October).

Key West

Floribean beat

At the tip of a 200 km chain of islands connected by the Overseas Highway, Key West is closer to Cuba than mainland Florida. This small island – just over seven square miles – has a huge personality, from the nightly celebration of the sunset in Mallory Square to the haunts of famous residents such as Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett to high-adrenaline sea activities like fishing athletic . This year the island marks the 200th anniversary of its first permanent settlement and activities are planned throughout the year.

Strolling street: Whitehead Street, parallel to the main street of Duval Street and running from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean, has Mile Marker Zero (the starting point of US Route 1, which goes to Canada), the Hemingway House Museum, Mallory Squareand the marker for the southernmost point of the continental United States.

Local bite: A slice of lime pie, of course. Try it at Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppewhich also sells a gluten-free version.

Sustainable stay: Key West Marriott Beachside Hotela designated Florida Green Lodging property.

Natural solution: Kayak among the mangroves and spot osprey, conch, small sharks and rays with outfitter such as Blue Planet Kayak Eco-Tours.

New nonstop: From Dulles on United (all year).


dune dreams

This 48-square-mile spit of land off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is a favorite getaway for Washingtonians — famous and not — perhaps because of its uncrowded, dune-backed beaches; weather-worn cedar shingle buildings; and landscapes that melt worries away. “It’s surrounded by water and 30 miles from the mainland, so it feels cut off from the world, in a good way,” says Washingtonian Susan O’Keefe, whose family has vacationed there for decades. “You leave the chain stores and traffic lights behind and slip into seaside village life with rose-covered cottages and uninterrupted white sand beaches, all accessible to the public.” The town’s cobbled streets are lined with shops, restaurants and galleries, all excellent and all expensive. Be sure to visit the Whale Museum understand the island’s role in the 19th century whaling industry.

Strolling street: Main Street has cafes, a pharmacy with a soda fountain counter, and historic wooden houses of sea captains and whale oil merchants.

Local bite: Boiled lobster with all sides. Try it at Nantucket Lobster Trap.

Sustainable stay: Nantucket Boat Basin Cottages participates in hotel recycling and reuse programs and promotes oyster restoration off Nantucket Island.

Natural solution: Cycle to Siasconset, a former fishing hamlet about 10 miles from town where a hidden cliffside promenade offers sweeping ocean views and sprawling summer residences with steps down to the Sconset beach, as the locals call it.

New nonstop: From Dulles on United (in season from June to September).


Great Sky Walkway

Seeding a Wild West cow town with creative millennials has turned Bozeman, Montana into a cool town. Cafes, bike shops, upcycled furniture stores and breweries dot the town center, and an old grain mill has been turned into a gallery and workshop. A historic Art Deco building, circa 1941, is now the Kimpton Armory Hotel. All this is not even the main attraction. The city of 53,000 inhabitants is surrounded by wide open spaces. Make it grand: half a dozen mountain ranges, and yellowstone national park practically in his garden. From wild to gentle, all activities are possible, from hot spring jumps to ziplining.

Strolling street: Make it Main Street, with its mix of architectural styles and storefronts selling everything from hand-stitched leather boots (boot barn) to hand-drawn espressos (Wild Joe*s Coffee).

Tasty bite: A burger made from Montana cattle or bison. Try it at Outback Burger Bar.

Sustainable stay: In the heart of downtown, the Bozeman Lark used recyclable materials in the redesign of a 1960s property and opted for digital directories.

Natural solution: A horseback ride through the sagebrush meadows of the Gallatin Range is a Montana classic. Try it at 320 Guest Ranch.

New nonstop: From Dulles on United (in season from July to September).


Southern comfort

Despite being Georgia’s oldest city, Savannah has a youthful and visionary aesthetic. It is partly thanks to the famous Savannah College of Art and Designnot, or SCAD, whose alumni have, over the past four decades, helped shape the city’s culture and economy. In the context of the largest National Historic District in the United States—22 town squaresincluding sites such as the oldest black church in North America—the creative spark of the Host City shines everywhere, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Jepson Center; the upscale Downtown Design District; and a foodie scene ranging from local eateries to Michelin-starred restaurants.

Strolling street: Often called the prettiest street in Savannah, Jones Street, paved with red brick, is lined with southern holm oaks and Victorian homes.

Tasty bite: Fried chicken and hoecakes (cornmeal pancakes). Try them at greyhoused in a restored former Greyhound Art Deco bus terminal.

Sustainable stay: Hotel Kimpton Brice is certified by the Green Key Eco-Rating program and partners with Clean the World, which collects and recycles discarded soap.

Natural solution: Lie on a sandy beach Tybee Islanda barrier island 20 minutes from downtown.

New nonstop: From BWI on Southwest Airlines (year-round).

This article appears in the April 2022 question from the Washingtonian. An earlier version of this article also included Berlin, Germany, but United Airlines has since changed plans to begin nonstop service this summer from Dulles to Berlin.

Norie Quintos

Alexandria resident Norie Quintos travels the world as an editor for National Geographic Traveler. She is also a content strategist, advising destinations and travel companies on how to tell their stories. On Twitter and Instagram, she is called @noriecicerone.

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