By Jesse Berman, Lexi Gopin, David Holzel, Eleanor Linafelt,
Eric Schucht and Selah Maya Zighelboim
Assateague Island National Seashore and State Park
If you enjoy the road less traveled, you might want to embark on a trip to visit the wild horses on ASSATEAGUE ISLAND. Descended from feral ancestors, the population was likely brought to the island in the 1600s by owners trying to avoid taxes or fencing laws, according to the National Park Service.
The horse population here contends with pestering mosquitoes, sweltering heat, turbulent weather and second-rate food sources. The Assateague herd typically divides itself into bands of two to 12 horses, each of which has its own home range.
While the inquisitive are encouraged to come and admire the horses from a distance, the NPS does not recommend getting too close to them. As horses can get sick from human food, feeding them is considered detrimental, and petting them is also dissuaded.
“Treating wild horses like tame animals takes away the wildness that makes them special,” the NPS site reads. “Give the horses the space they need to be wild.” — JB
ANNAPOLIS, a National Historic Landmark District, is an ideal excursion for history buffs. At the Maryland State House, you can view documents written during the 18th century and walk through the building where George Washington himself roamed the halls. Outside, the Thurgood Marshall Memorial stands tall as a tribute to Marshall’s leadership in the Civil Rights movement and as the first Black Supreme Court justice. Revolutionary-era mansions, such as the Hammond-Harwood House, are also a must-see as well as the Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park and the U.S. Naval Academy. Looking for more of a beach-town feel? Main Street has restaurants, ice cream parlors and a variety of shops to explore, including Old Fox Books, a personal favorite! — LG
It takes about two-and-a-half hours to reach BERKELEY SPRINGS, WEST VIRGINIA, by car. But a 16-year-old George Washington must have endured days in a trackless void to get there on a surveying mission. For his trouble, Washington, ever the shrewd land speculator, later bought a few lots in a town being established around a bubbling warm springs, its mysterious source in a mountain looming overhead. If Washington didn’t sleep there, he certainly bathed there — according to town lore — and you can see his bathtub in the Berkeley Springs State Park, along the channel and pools that take the spring water through town and into the imagination.
Long before the English arrived, the spring water, at precisely 74 degrees, was reputed to have healing properties. Today, the citizens drink it, bathe in it, inhale its steam and, once a year, vote on it at the International Water Tasting Festival. Visitors, too, can even carry a gallon or two home with them.
Walk through town (the main street is named for Washington, too) and drivers will wave at you as they pass (and they don’t even know you!). There are restaurants, inns, B&Bs, the old-style Star Theater movie house, a cocktail lounge, an arts center, spas, bath houses, breweries and antiques.
And did I say water? — DH
Solomons Island, MD
Google “Solomon Islands” and you’ll get search results for a nation of hundreds of islands in the South Pacific. Google “SOLOMONS ISLAND” and you’ll get information on a picturesque island town in Maryland situated between the Chesapeake Bay and Patuxent River.
The town is a boater’s paradise and offers a multitude of options for those looking to spend a day out on the water. Don’t own a boat? No problem! Bunky’s Charter Boats offers rentals for fishing, crabbing, guided tours or cruising.
Not into water? There’s the Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center. The museum features outdoor sculptures to explore and is affiliated with the Smithsonian. If your kids want to visit an aquarium or are into boats and fossils, then they’ll get a kick out of the Calvert Marine Museum. Time your visit just right so you can climb up into the Drum Point Lighthouse.
Breakfast options on the island are limited, but visiting Lotus Kitchen is a great choice for a morning bite on the go. And no matter what time of day it is, always order the key lime pie. A single bite will justify the whole trip.
For lunch or dinner there’s The Pier, an historic landmark offering fine dining. But those looking for a view should head to The Lighthouse Restaurant & Dockbar, where you can see all the boats in Back Creek.
Keep in mind Solomons is not a walking destination. Tourist shops are few and there are some short boardwalks, but the only sand found on this island is at the Tiki Bar. So landlubbers should look elsewhere for fun. — ES
WILMINGTON, with its unique historical destinations and family-friendly activities, is an easy two-hour drive.
The Nemours Estate is a Wilmington must-visit. Constructed by Alfred I. du Pont, the 300-acre estate has the largest French formal gardens in North America, inspired by the grounds of Versailles, and a 77-room mansion filled with paintings, antique furniture and tapestries. Another fascinating house from the du Pont family is the Hagley Museum and Library, which was the former industrial site of the black powder works of the DuPont Co. You’ll be able to see restored buildings, the first du Pont family home built in America and stone ruins of the black powder industry among its 235 acres of rolling hills.
If you have kids along, they’ll love the Brandywine Zoo, which is open daily and holds a wide range of special events. The city is home to the Delaware Children’s Museum, which has a variety of interactive exhibits that teach kids about science, technology, engineering and math through fun and engaging activities. — EL and SZ