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Mid-Atlantic States


Road trips became extremely popular in 2020, with vacationers who opted out of air travel and cruises turning to the highways. A survey by AAA found that 80% of vacations planned for the final months of 2020 were being planned as road trips.

"Road trips have been most popular as consumers can curate their own experience and take the necessary precautions, prepare for the journey, limit contact, and experience the great outdoors," said Paula Twidale, AAA's Senior Vice President of Travel.

Roads trips remain a great option, even with forecasts of snow and colder temperatures. With a bit of planning, a trip through the Mid-Atlantic can be as enjoyable now as in summer.

Ski Lift in Winter Snow

Ski lift in operation carrying people up the slope for another downhill run. Blue Knob, Pennyslvania

While you can downhill ski in countless places, cross country (XC) skiing is typically a rarer offering. State parks throughout Pennsylvania offer snowshoeing and XC skiing, and some locations provide equipment rentals.

In Chapman State Park, you'll find 4.4 miles of groomed [XC] ski trails that connect to numerous trails in the adjoining national forest and state game lands. There is also an illuminated, seven-acre slope for sledding. Other parks allow for XC skiing in open areas or on service roads, frozen lakes, and equestrian trails.

Winter Landscape
Horizontal view of woods, frozen waterfall and snow.South Mountain Reservation, NJ  
The Pinelands National Reserve spans 1.1 million acres, or 22% of New Jersey. The reserve features forests, rivers, blueberry fields, and cranberry bogs.

The southeastern portion of the reserve contains the Pine Barrens Byway. This 130-mile route highlights scenic and historical attractions. One popular stop is Wildlife Drive. This 8-mile vehicle route takes you past walking trails, observation towers, and through a saltmarsh with many species of birds.

Snowy tree and table
Snowy tree and table with benches during heavy snow storm in Wilmington, Delaware

You might think of the Southwest when you think of hot air balloons. However, Delaware is also home to an annual balloon festival. If you missed it, you haven’t missed your chance of taking flight. Various companies offer balloon rides in Delaware and surrounding Mid-Atlantic states.

One balloon operator explains that the air temperature is sometimes higher by 40 degrees once at cruising altitude. At around 1,000 feet, you'll have a great view of landmarks. Try and find familiar sights, have your captain point out local interests, or just enjoy the peace of flight.


Railroad Train, Old Steam Locomotive Pulling in Winter
Railroad Train, Old Steam Locomotive Pulling in Winter

Cumberland, Maryland, is home to the Western Maryland Railroad. Restored passenger cars travel between Cumberland and Frostburg. Along the 3.5-hour journey, you'll cover 34 miles of scenic mountain terrain, travel along the nearly V-shaped Helmstetter's Curve, and tunnel through the Alleghany Mountains. Enjoy a scenic trip or take the kids on the famous Polar Express train ride.

Frozen Waterfall
Frozen Waterfall

Hiking at any time of year is enjoyable, but nature takes on a specific beauty during winter. The fall leaves make for longer lines of sight, and waterfall spotting can be more fun, too—you might even find them frozen.

Virginia has many falls, but here are two you have a good chance of seeing frozen in time. Cascades National Recreation Trail in the north of the state boasts a 66-foot fall accessible by a 4-mile loop trail. Dark Hollow Falls in the Shenandoah National Park is a very popular summer hike. This 70-foot fall can be seen without the hassle of larger crowds as the weather turns chilly.