Virginia is a state well-known for its natural beauty and is home to several national and state parks. Scenic drives can be discovered at virtually every turn. There is more to the region than just its statuesque mountains, regal valleys, and roaring rivers, however. The area is deeply steeped in American history, from its Native American roots, to the first European settlers, to having some of today’s most important government operations. With so much to see and do, it can be hard for visitors to pick just one way to see the state. That’s why we have compiled this list of scenic drives to help begin a Virginia journey of discovery:

No. 10 – Breaks Interstate Park

Starting Location: Rosedale, VA
Ending Location: Sand Lick, VA
Length: 40 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
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With the natural splendor of Jefferson State Park and Breaks Interstate Park along most of this route, there is no shortage of picturesque spots to discover. In Honaker, the “Redbud Capital of the World,” check out the charming downtown full of historic buildings and specialty shops. Near the state line in Breaks Interstate Park, peer into the 1,600-foot deep canyon by the Russell Fork River, where whitewater rafting is a popular activity.

No. 9 – Leesburg Loop

Starting Location: Leesburg, VA
Ending Location: Leesburg, VA
Length: 41 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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This scenic drive on the outskirts of Washington DC leaves metropolitan living behind and provides an amazingly beautiful way to spend a morning or afternoon. The landscape, characterized by rolling hills and woods valued by local fox hunters, is lovely. The restored mansion and grounds at Oatlands are also worth a stop to see how the privileged once lived in the area.

No. 8 – Coastal Virginia – Hampton Roads

Starting Location: Newport News, VA
Ending Location: Hampton, VA
Length: 10 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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This drive, with nearby bay views, is full of stops that appeal to military history enthusiasts all along its way. Travelers could spend the entire day exploring places like the Virginia War Museum, Hampton Roads Naval Museum, and the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial. For those less interested in military affairs, stop at Sandy Bottom Nature Park to enjoy the trails.

No. 7 – Country Stores and Rural Post Offices Driving Tour

Starting Location: Gloucester, VA
Ending Location: Gloucester, VA
Length: 3 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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This three-mile drive may not take long to travel when driven straight through, but it can easily take up an hour or two with stops to explore. Twelve country stores and rural post offices are along the way, several of which are still in operation. These sites were once the hubs of communities, and those who visit may feel transported to a different place and time.

No. 6 – Nelson Scenic Loop

Starting Location: Wintergreen, VA
Ending Location: Wintergreen, VA
Length: 42 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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Travelers along this tour of Nelson County are treated to mountain views and fertile farmlands. Hike the trails around Crab Tree Falls, which has one of the tallest sets of waterfalls east of the Mississippi River. In Rockfish Valley, stop at one of the several local wineries for an informative tour and some samples.

No. 5 – Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel

Starting Location: Virginia Beach, VA
Ending Location: Cape Charles, VA
Length: 19 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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This convenient, over-the-ocean route, from Virginia Beach to the state’s eastern shore is a relatively short but memorable drive. Stop at Sea Gull Island to watch the ships go by and take pictures of both the Atlantic Ocean and Chesapeake Bay. The salt marshes and dunes at Fisherman’s Island are also worth a look, with its plentiful wildlife and beautiful scenes.

No. 4 – Colonial National Historic Parkway

Starting Location: Jamestown, VA
Ending Location: Yorktown, VA
Length: 25 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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Although the drive isn’t long, it is jam-packed with things to see and do. View artifacts and exhibits from the country’s beginnings at Jamestown Settlement. Stopping in Colonial Williamsburg, the world’s largest living exhibit, is an absolute must to step back in time and experience firsthand what it was like to live there in the 1700s.

No. 3 – George Washington Memorial Parkway

Starting Location: Mt. Vernon, VA
Ending Location: Washington DC
Length: 16 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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Follow the Potomac River and brush up on your knowledge of American history along the way on this route from George Washington’s home of Mt Vernon to the nation’s capital of Washington DC. Educational and photo opportunities are plentiful at Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. Don’t miss the Jones Point Lighthouse, one of the few remaining lighthouses of its kind, where fishing and picnic areas are nearby.

No. 2 – Blue Ridge Parkway

Starting Location: Rockford Gap, VA
Ending Location: Maggie Valley, NC
Length: 392 miles
Best Season to Drive: Spring, Summer, and Fall
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This route, winding along the Appalachian Mountains, connects Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and is renowned for its outstanding views. With over 200 overlooks, photo opportunities of the region abound, and there’s always an excuse to stop and recharge from the long drive. Stop at Mabry Mill to explore and learn more about the lives of the early settlers from park interpreters that provide on-site demonstrations of skills like basket weaving and spinning thread.

No. 1 – Skyline Drive

Starting Location: Front Royal, VA
Ending Location: Waynesboro, VA
Length: 111 miles
Best Season to Drive: All
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Running along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains and through Shenandoah National Park as a continuation of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive is the most well-known scenic drive in the state for good reason. On one side of the route, behold rolling hills and on the other side, take in views of agricultural valleys. Although spectacular photos can be had at virtually any stop along the way, don’t miss Pinnacles Overlook, which showcases one billion years’ worth of geological formations.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as Top 10 Scenic Drives in Virginia and was authored by Elan McAfee.


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