From a road-tripper’s perspective, Virginia has it all – majestic mountain scenery, vast national and state parks, and a variety of roads in Virginia that you can travel in a few hours, days, or in less than a week.
Then there’s the fact that Virginia’s lands hold some of the richest historical landmarks in the country, spanning centuries of America’s birth and development.
We want to help you experience everything this breathtaking state offers, so we’ve compiled our top five scenic drives in Virginia so that you can travel alone, with a special someone, or with the whole family. Let’s dive right in!
5 Scenic Drives in Virginia
1. Virginia Scenic Drives: Blue Ridge Parkway
- Distance: 217 miles
- Time needed: 7 hours 12 minutes/2-3 days
Also known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway showcases the natural beauty of Virginia’s mountains year-round. Thousands of people make this drive every year to enjoy its countless breathtaking views and recreational activities along the route. We recommend scheduling a long weekend or at least two days for this beautiful scenic drive in Virginia.
No matter your interests, there is plenty to see and do along the Blue Ridge Parkway. George Washington and Jefferson National Forests offer miles of hiking trails, fishing, and more.
You can also explore the Spikenard Farm Honeybee Sanctuary off of milepost 149.2, where you can take a tour and shop for uniquely sweet products. And don’t forget to visit Mabry Mill, the Parkway’s most-photographed site.
There are also other ways to take in the Virginia scenery, like driving through the Virginia Safari Park, the state’s only drive-thru zoo! Children will love feeding exotic animals like camels, bison, and giraffes along this 3-mile route. Multiple wineries, a zipline adventure park, and other stops make this a must-see drive for any road trip in Virginia.
When to go: The Blue Ridge Parkway is beautiful at any time of year, with activities for every season.
Pro Tip: There’s no way you can experience everything in one go, so try using Blue Ridge Parkway’s interactive map to pick and choose stops based on your interests.
2. Virginia Scenic Drives: The Crooked Road – Bristol, VA to Rocky Mount, VA (I-81 & I-77)
- Distance: 300 miles
- Time needed: 5-6 hours/2-3 days
Calling all music lovers! The Crooked Road echoes with the sounds of country music along more than 300 miles of Southwest Virginia countryside. Also known as Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, the Crooked Road is arguably one of the state’s best scenic drives. You can travel sections of the route on different weekends or spend a week exploring its entire length.
If you’re beginning your drive on the eastern side of the Crooked Road, you’ll start at Rocky Mount, otherwise known as the “Moonshine Capital of the World.” Then, take in a show at the Harvester Performance Center or tour the Blue Ridge Institute’s heritage farm.
Pro Tip: If you’re traveling in the area during the fall, be sure to attend October’s Blue Ridge Folklife Festival! There are several places to shop along the route, and you can stop for a delicious dinner and wine at Chateau Morrisette vineyard.
Galax is located in the central portion of Crooked Road, and there are multiple activities and sightseeing opportunities for every traveler. The Rex Theatre holds weekly musical events, and you can also admire local artwork from Chestnut Creek School of the Arts.
Grayson Highlands State Park is nearby, and you can even hike with wild ponies while you’re there. You can either end or begin your Crooked Road experience in Bristol, where the Birthplace of Country Music Museum awaits you.
When to go: The route is available year-round, with many summer and fall events for all interests.
3. Virginia Scenic Drives: Journey Through Hallowed Ground Byway – Loudoun County, VA to Charlottesville, VA (US Route 15, VA Routes 20, 231, 22, and 53)
- Distance: 180 miles
- Time needed: 2-3 hours/1-2 days
Travel through centuries of American history with every mile on the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Byway. This is one of Virginia’s best scenic drives, offering some of the country’s most picturesque and historic landscapes. This is the perfect route for a weekend trip away, and both individuals and families will enjoy all there is to explore.
Begin your drive in Loudoun County, where the byway enters the state from Pennsylvania. Lovers of history will enjoy visiting Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, where visitors can tour museums and exhibits, hike along the trails, and more. You can also visit James Madison’s Montpelier, James Monroe’s Highland, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello along this famous byway.
Aside from these specific stops, there are many other activities and stop-worthy locations along the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Byway. Several Civil War battlefields lie on or near your route, as well as farmer’s markets, wineries, and one-of-a-kind shopping experiences.
When to go: You can find things to see and do along this byway all year round.
4. Virginia Scenic Drives: Skyline Drive – Front Royal, VA to Waynesboro, VA
- Distance: 105 miles
- Time needed: 2-3 hours/1 day
Experience Virginia’s breathtaking scenery along Skyline Drive, a route through the heart of Shenandoah National Park. Drive along the Blue Ridge Mountains crest, where you can stop at 75 overlooks to capture that perfect photo-worthy moment with your family or friends. Spend an afternoon or the entire day marveling at the Virginia scenery.
Pro Tip: The most popular time to take Skyline Drive is during the fall when the foliage is most vibrant. So it’s best to call ahead to reserve camping or lodge accommodations.
You’ll start your drive at Front Royal, which is the northernmost section of Skyline Drive. Then, visit Dickey Ridge Visitor Center before hiking along Fox Hollow Interpretive Trail or exploring the area around Piney River Falls. If you truly want to experience the great outdoors, there are many camping sites along Skyline Drive as well.
Skyline Drive’s central portion, the land between Thornton Gap and Swift Run Gap, is a must-see. Here, you can access the highest point, numerous trails, lodges, and visitor centers.
Mary’s Rock offers spectacular views, and you can reach Stony Man, the Appalachian Trail’s highest location, near Skyland Lodge. The Southern portion of this scenic Virginia drive doesn’t disappoint either, with fascinating rock formations, streams, and rivers to satisfy any fisherman.
When to go: You can access most points along Skyline Drive year-round.
Pro Tip: If traveling during the winter, we recommend ensuring you have a full tank of gas at the onset of your journey.
5. Virginia Scenic Drives: Mount Rogers Scenic Byway – Troutdale, VA to Volney, VA (VA Route 603, US Route 58)
- Distance: 60 miles
- Time needed: 3 hours/1-2 days
Although not as well-known as some of the other Virginia scenic drives on our list, Mount Rogers Scenic Byway is worth the drive. You can easily spend a half-day on the weekend or even the full two days exploring the Jefferson National Forest or Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, as the route offers you access to both!
The first section of the byway begins in Troutdale, where you’ll drive through Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. From there, you can hike the Virginia Creeper Trail, watch wild ponies, and enjoy a wide range of outdoor recreational activities. Avid hikers might even try to reach the top of Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia.
The second section of Mount Rogers Scenic Byway takes you from Damascus to Volney, and it’s the easiest way to access the “High Country.” Marvel at whitewater streams and hike up Whitetop Mountain, where you can view some of the oldest rocks on the planet. Both modern and primitive campgrounds are available on either route if you plan on staying outdoors.
When to go: You can travel the byway all year long, but it’s particularly fun in late spring, summer, and early fall when you can safely access more areas.
More On Road Tripping East Coast USA
If you’re looking for more east coast driving and family vacation inspiration, you’re in good hands. Up next, why not read about:
- Fascinating Washington DC Road Trips
- Wonderful Scenic Drives in West Virginia
- 6 Best Scenic Drives in Maryland you won’t want to miss
- Incredible Delaware Scenic Drives
- Every Exciting East Coast National Park to Explore
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