Health  |  Things to Do

5 Ways to Escape DC and the Bonkers News Cycle

Photograph via iStock.

If the news has you feeling like all you want to do is stand in the shower and sob every morning, it’s probably time to put your phone in a drawer (or at least turn off Slack notifications) and get out of Dodge. Here are five ways to destress far away from the DC hum.

Hike in Shenandoah, duh

Head west and in less than two hours find 500 miles of hiking trails where you can scream as loud as you’d like among the maples. Then, hit up Shenandoah Valley, where soothing activities include drinking wine or snuggling a baby goat. 17157 Skyline Drive, Front Royal.

Smash a printer, Office Space-style

At Rage Room of Maryland, you can release all the fury you’ve been quietly suppressing as the news cycle has circled the toilet bowl these past few months. Thirty-five bucks gets you a bat and 20 minutes in a room with a printer and ten unnamed “glass items” waiting to be shattered. Make it a date night and Rage Room will even throw in some champagne bottles. It’s only open on Saturdays, and appointments are mandatory. It’s also a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes. 7335 East Furnace Branch Road, Glen Burnie.

Take a bike ride far, far away

The C&O Canal extends from Georgetown all the way to Pittsburgh (turning into the Great Allegheny Passage around 180 miles in) with tranquil scenery morphing from the Potomac to the Allegheny Mountains to small towns just a turn off the path. The trail is friendly to beginners, but bring spare tubes in case gravel sections turn pesky. And on weekends, you can camp for free along the trail—if you’ve never gone on a cycling camping trip before, here’s a handy-dandy list of everything you need for a one-night trip.

Chill at a spa

DC has a stellar variety of spas, but for those looking to mentally and physically escape, Salamander’s luxury spa offers a buffet of facials, massages, manis and pedis, and body treatments, such as the “Fall Rebalancing” treatment, which includes a Swedish deep tissue massage and an autumnal aroma blend of soothing eucalyptus and pine to calm the mind. We’d like to be hugged by the shea-butter-heavy “Cashmere Quench Wrap” right about now. 500 North Pendleton Street, Middleburg.

Go horseback riding

Horses are often considered “emotional mirrors,” known to reflect a person’s emotional state, and in the field of psychology, equine therapy is used to treat a wide range of mental health challenges, including PTSD and addiction. Riding or handling horses can also feel empowering for those feeling trapped or stuck. The Conyers House Inn & Stable (not a medical equine facility) offers a variety of riding packages, including private lessons, where beginners can learn to trot and gallop ($60-$80), take a cross-country ride ($70 for two hours), or go on longer, lazier trail rides through Rappahannock County ($150 for three-ish hours). Further the relaxation by booking a night at the inn, where doggos are welcome and the rooms have working fireplaces. 3131 Slate Mills Road, Sperrysville. 

Kim Olsen

Kim Olsen ([email protected]) is a freelance writer in Alexandria.