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Riverside Hearth's brunch menu is bottomless, and the can't miss dish is the blueberry pancakes. (Image: Courtesy Lansdowne)

4 weekend brunch destinations worth going the distance

When you think of brunch, maybe the first thing that comes to mind is bottomless mimosas or all-you-can-eat buffets. While this may be one of the perks of the meal, usually what you end up with is a watered down OJ cocktail and a picked-over smorgasbord of food.

But lucky for Washingtonians, there are a few unique brunch menus worth traveling for. These are the spots where the food, cocktails and scenery seem like a mini-vacation from the daily grind. Here are our four favorites for brunch a bit beyond the Beltway.

Boatyard Bar & Grill
Location: Eastport, Maryland
Drive time: 1 hour

Bloody Marys taste better by the Chesapeake Bay, and that’s especially true when they’re topped with a healthy dose of Old Bay Seasoning. In Annapolis, some of the best hair of the dog is at the Boatyard Bar & Grill, located just across Spa Creek in Eastport, Maryland. This nautical-themed restaurant and bar is also the place to try crab cakes or eggs benedict topped with Maryland crab. And on Sundays there are buck-a-shuck oysters, harvested from the waters around Eastport, so you know it’s fresh.

Riverside Hearth
Location: Lansdowne, Virginia
Drive time: 1 hour

One of the most scenic brunch spots near town is at Lansdowne Resort and Spa, a destination of relaxation along the banks of the Potomac River in Loudoun County. This AAA Four-Diamond award-winning resort also just revamped their Sunday brunch menu. Executive Chef Marcus Repp offers a bottomless brunch experience that includes fresh bread, made-to-order omelets, and pancakes and waffles at the resort’s Riverside Hearth, which comes with a view of the Potomac River Valley. This all-you-can-eat meal is a relative bargain too—$36 for adults, $18 for kids, and free for children under three.

Woodberry Kitchen
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Drive time: 1.5 hours

For years, Chef Spike Gjerde has been tempting us with a destination weekend brunch at Woodberry Kitchen. And even though he now has a D.C. restaurant (A Rake’s Progress in Adams Morgan), there’s still nothing better than the original experience of Woodberry brunch. Rest assured, everything on the menu is hyperlocal—Gjerde is a James Beard Award-winning chef and knows dozens of farmers and food purveyors from the Mid-Atlantic region. Just be sure to save room for dessert, because on Sundays, you have to order the CMP sundae, which is layer upon layer of chocolate, marshmallow fluff and peanuts.

The Shack
Location: Staunton, Virginia
Drive time: 2.5 hours

You’ll definitely want to snag a reservation in advance at this extremely tiny destination brunch spot, and it's an easy pit stop before a mid-day hike in Shenandoah National Park. Chef Ian Boden is a James Beard semifinalist who knows a thing or two about down-home cooking. The brunch menu is inspired by Appalachian and Southern comfort food, like biscuits and porcini and pork fat gravy or barbecue beef rib tacos. There’s also to-go items like sorghum barbecue sauce and hot sauce, so you can bring a taste of The Shack back to your kitchen.