by Rebekah Cartwright Wicke
Make the best of these last few weeks of summer by taking some quick, affordable, and meaningful day trips. Hanover has its hidden gems, but sometimes great escapes are the best way to jumpstart your mojo, especially before fall sets in and school gets started.
Here are Hanover Magazine’s recommendations for quick trips within a hundred miles that can be enjoyed for $100 or less, by those of any age.
Not so far: Chambersburg Area
Miles: Approximately 40
If you’re looking for a short car ride and a low-key low-stress day, Chambersburg and the surrounding area, make for a great day – or afternoon – trip. Located about an hour away, Chambersburg has plenty of shopping, restaurants, and history. Not only that, but there are plenty of fun stops along the way.
About forty-five minutes into your scenic drive, you’ll come across Caledonia State Park. If the weather’s particularly sunshine-y, make sure to stop by to get out and stretch your legs. Not only is Caledonia beautiful, but it also features hiking trails of varying difficulty, depending on how much of a work out you’d like to get. The scenery alone is breathtaking, but it’s also good exercise and a great way to bond with your travel companions, or find your inner peace if you’re traveling by yourself. An added bonus – it is, of course, free.
Next stop: Chambersburg itself. Grab lunch at one of the cute little bistros downtown and do some window-shopping at the various shops downtown. If you’re really in the mood to shop, stop by their mall, which is sizeable compared to Hanover’s.
Go directly to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. For any history buffs, a visit to the Old Jail is a must. The jail, which was built in 1818, is now a museum. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for children, and $10 for families, making it an affordable and educational stop. This summer, it’ll be open Tuesdays through Saturdays, from 10 am to 4 pm. Another worthwhile stop for history buffs: abolitionist John Brown’s house, which is down the street from the Old Jail, and also offers tours for a low price – plus you get a discount if you visit both John Brown’s house and the jail.
On your way home, make sure to stop by Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum. Not only can you check out tons of elephant figurines of varying sizes, but Mr. Ed’s also sells candy – lots of delicious candy. Make sure to give your sweet tooth a treat on your way home!
A little farther: Lancaster
Miles: Approximately 48
Just a hop, skip, and a jump away, Lancaster offers historical sites and family friendly attractions. Like Chambersburg, it has some great shopping and fun local attractions.
You get your gas there every week, but have you seen how they make their ice cream? If not, the Turkey Hill Experience is a fun start to your day in Lancaster. For about $10 per person, you get educated in how they make their ice cream and iced tea– and unlimited samples. Score! You can’t beat that. For an extra $5 per person, you can throw in making your ice cream with a flavor of your choice.
In addition, Lancaster has a few popular museums, including the National Watch and Clock Museum (admission is $9 for adults, $5 for children) and the Landis Valley Museum (admission is $12.00 for adults, $8.00), which features artifacts from the first Pennsylvania German settlement. If you enjoy the Landis Valley Museum, you may also want to take a tour of the Amish Farm and House, also located in Lancaster.
If you’d rather be outside enjoying the sunshine instead of inside at a museum, make sure to check out the sprawling and beautiful Longwood Gardens. Admission is free for $10 for children, $20 for adults.
For those of you who like to shop til you drop, the Tanger Outlets in Lancaster won’t disappoint. Downtown Lancaster also has boutiques, fun shopping, and great food.
Even further: Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia
Miles: Approximately 68
If you enjoyed checking out abolitionist John Brown’s home in Chambersburg, you’ll probably enjoy seeing where he carried out his raid in Harper’s Ferry in 1859. Not only is this a great place to take in some history, but it’s also a great place to get some exercise.
Hike along part of the Appalachian Trail, or bring your bike to ride along the C&O Canal Trail. Harper’s Ferry is right where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet, so, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you may want to rent a kayak or try tubing down the river. Rental fees for kayaks and tubes vary, and you’ll have to plan this for a hot day.
Fortunately, many of the historical sites in Harper’s Ferry are free to explore. There are also plenty of places to walk around near the water, and you’ll also find adorable shops and affordable restaurants to grab a bite to eat – expect to work up an appetite with all the walking and adventuring that you’ll be doing!
Speaking of adventuring, Harper’s Ferry has one of the top rated ghost tours in America. Prepare to be afraid, while taking in more history. Tickets cost $14 for adults, $10 for children 8 to 10, and are free for children under 8. The fun doesn’t have to stop there – if you’re too tired from all the adventures that Harper’s Ferry has to offer, why not stay a night? Stay at one of Harper’s Ferry’s two hostels for less than $40 per night.
Pretty far: Annapolis, Maryland
Miles: Approximately 72
Why visit Annapolis, Maryland? Well, it’s beautiful for starters. Like the other destinations, it has a lot of lovely little shops to visit, but what it has that the others don’t is the Chesapeake Bay. The best way to take a tour of Annapolis and the United States Naval Academy is by boat. Tickets start at around $16 for adults and $6 for children for a 90-minute boat tour.
If you enjoy water sports, the Chesapeake Bay makes Annapolis a go-to place for paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. Speaking of water, Annapolis is also home to the Maritime Museum, which offers walking tours for free. Additionally, you can tour the museum for $8 for individuals or $2 per family member.
Annapolis has a rich history and features several free museums for the history buff in your life, including the Banneker-Douglass Museum, an African American history museum, and the National Cryptologic Museum. Another gem? The Maryland Statehouse, which also offers free tours.
While many of the activities in Annapolis are free and relatively affordable, the one thing you may want to splurge on is seafood. What better place to enjoy a crab cake than by the Chesapeake Bay?
The farthest (but maybe the cheapest): Washington, DC
Miles: Approximately 80
There’s so much to see and do in our nation’s capitol, that even if you have been before, you still haven’t seen it all. One of the best parts about DC is that you can hop on the metro instead of driving into the city. The closest metro station to Hanover is Shady Grove (about 55 miles away), and you can ride it for just a few dollars at a time to get to anywhere in the city.
Another awesome thing about DC: a lot of things are free! From the National Zoo to the Smithsonian museums to the Holocaust Museum to the National Gallery of Art, you can cover a lot of ground and see some pretty cool stuff for absolutely nothing (unless you count your tax dollars, but that’s another story…)
To have access to the many monuments of DC, you’ll want to get off the metro at Metro Center. In that case, a fun and relatively cheap place to get lunch is the Reagan Building. The food court there is sure to have something to please everyone you’re traveling with.
Can you imagine hiking in the city? Believe it or not, in DC you can. If you want to escape the chaos of the city for a few minutes – or hours – find your way to the Glover Archibald Trail or the Rock Creek Park Trail. You’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness until you emerge in the concrete jungle. Both of these trails are in close proximity to Georgetown, which offers lots of shopping, eating, and a beautiful view of the National Harbor.
There’s a lot to see in the city, so make sure you plan ahead. The National Cathedral, National Arboretum, and Arlington National Cemetery are all worth a visit. You may need to visit D.C. more than once!
Hidden Hanover Gems
Hanover has a lot of its own hidden gems, too. Here are the top 10 things to do in Hanover, per Trip Advisor, so start planning your stay-cation.
- Codorus State Park Go for a hike, play disk golf, or even rent a kayak for the day
- Factory Tours Utz and Snyder’s both have popular factory tours
- R/C Theaters It’s never a bad idea to catch a movie
- The Markets at Hanover Do a little shopping and a little eating
- Hanover Area Arts Guild and Gallery Get cultured in downtown Hanover and admire the works of local artists
- Warehime Myers Mansion Take a tour of this beautiful mansion, maintained by the historical society
- Games & Entertainment Timeline Arcade & Hickory Falls Family Entertainment – you’re never too old for mini golf and video games
- The Eichelberger Performing Arts Center Catch a show right here in Hanover at the old high school
- Gifts & Specialty Shops Shop til you drop
- High Rock Winery It’s five o’clock somewhere