From the sparkling waters of Chesapeake Bay to the majestic Appalachian Mountains, Virginia offers travelers an abundance of natural beauty. Accordingly, a road trip is a great way to see all of that beauty, as well as absorb the history of quaint old towns and exciting urban centers. Book a stay at one of many incredible Virginia vacation rentals along your route. Take a look at these road trip ideas to inspire your next adventure in Virginia.
1. Skyline Drive
For the best views of the mountains of Virginia, take a journey along Skyline Drive. Running through Shenandoah National Park, this 106-mile road offers 75 overlooks perfect for savoring the beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Find some of the best views at Hogback Outlook where you can see the winding path of the Shenandoah River far below, Hazel Mountain Overlook which offers views of settlements from days past, and Hazeltop Ridge Overlook offering a classic Smoky Mountain horizon. Skyline Drive has mile markers and informational areas along the route, making it easy to extend your trip to include short hikes to see more of the area. Be watchful for wildlife which often crosses the winding highway, pulling off the road if necessary to take photos from the safety of your vehicle.
2. Presidential Homes
More presidents have called Virginia home than any other state. Visit several of these historic homes on one epic road trip. Start your trip in Mount Vernon where living history exhibits let you step back in time to when George Washington was the very first president, and then swing by George Washington’s birthplace in Colonial Beach. Make Fredericksburg your next stop to see Washington’s boyhood home at Ferry Farm and the James Monroe Museum. While in town, grab breakfast at the Mason-Dixon Cafe with mouthwatering cheese grits on the side. Next, take the two hour drive south, just past Richmond, to tour Berkeley Plantation, where William Henry Harrison was born and Sherwood Forest, John Tyler’s home. Travel on to Lynchburg for a quick look at Poplar Forest, President Jefferson’s personal retreat, and lunch at the historic Depot Grille, and then press onto Monticello in Charlottesville. If you have more time, consider adding Thomas Jefferson’s childhood home Tuckahoe Plantation, James Monroe’s home Ashland-Highlands, and the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library to your itinerary.
3. Virginia Plantation Tour
If you’re a true Southerner or just wish you were, step back in time with this road trip focused on restored plantations. Start your road trip in Richmond digging deep into the city’s many historical museums, including the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, and the American Civil War Museum. Then head towards the coast on Route 5, stopping along the way to admire the many historical homes and working farms, some of which are open to the public. Of special interest include Berkeley Plantation where the first Thanksgiving was celebrated, Evelynton which was the site of Civil War battles, and Westover Plantation which was built by the founder of Richmond. Finish your trip by enjoying the living history at Colonial Williamsburg and taking a tour at Yorktown Battlefield.
4. The Shenandoah Valley
If you only have a few days, head to the Shenandoah Valley for a road trip full of natural beauty and history. Travel from Staunton to Roanoke, setting your own itinerary focused on the interests of your crew. If you love the great outdoors, be sure to visit Natural Bridge and spend an afternoon hiking at Shenandoah River State Park. If history is more your forte, stop into the Frontier Culture Museum and the Virginia Military Institute and Museum. Pamper yourself in the area’s hot springs, and if you’re traveling with your family, stop at Virginia Safari Park and Dinosaurland for a trip into the prehistoric past.
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5. The Crooked Road
If you love music, head down The Crooked Road, also known as Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, and fill your days with the area’s best bluegrass, folk, and traditional country music. This music-filled adventure extends 300 miles down U.S. Route 58 from the Blue Ridge Mountains all the way across the state to Franklin County. Some highlights of the route include The Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, which offers an extensive outdoor concert series during the warmer months; Heartwood in Abingdon, the homeplace of traditional music; and Bristol, the birthplace of country music. Be sure to spend a Saturday evening at the Carter Family Fold for old time music at its best. Vacation rentals along your route make it easy to take in late night performances and be well rested to continue your journey the next day.
6. Farmville and the High Bridge
For a road trip suitable for a long weekend, head to the High Bridge for an expansive view of the Appomattox River Valley. This Virginia attraction is located on a 30 mile trail in High Bridge State Park, west of the Chesapeake Bay. Bring your bicycles along to cover a larger portion of the trail, and don’t forget plenty of water to sustain you along the way. In nearby Farmville, head to the R.R. Moton Museum to learn more about the Civil Rights movement, and then Sailor’s Creek Battlefield Historical State Park for some Civil War era history.
7. Seaside Roadtrip
For a trip that let’s you hit all the best Virginia Beaches, travel up the Virginia coastline from Virginia Beach to Chincoteague Island. With over 35 miles of gorgeous beach plus all the activities on the boardwalk, you may want to begin your trip with a few nights in Virginia Beach. Then travel through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to the wildness that is Virginia’s Eastern Shore region. Travel north on Route 13 stopping to explore the areas pristine stretches of ocean beach. Small towns, such as Accomac, Onancock, and Eastville, offer vacation rentals and delicious fresh seafood to fuel your adventures. End your trip with a visit to Chincoteague Islands to see the herds of wild ponies.
8. Scenic Route 211 Wine Trail
Wine Lovers are sure to enjoy this road trip through the northwest portion of Virginia. Start your trip in Warrenton with a French feast complete with wine pairings at the Warrenton Wellness Kitchen and Cooking School, and then head out of town on 211. This experience includes instruction in wine tasting to set the tone for your road trip. Take route 211 out of town, stopping for tours and tastings at the seven wineries along the route, including Little Washington Winery and Wolf Gap Vineyard and Winery, before it ends at Timberville. Plan for an overnight or two in Sperryville or New Market to take in the gorgeous mountain scenery and enjoy the fine cuisine along the way.
9. Lake Country
Travel U.S. Route 58 to get a taste of Virginia’s lake country. More than 70,000 lakes are in this portion of the state, and the route is studded with small towns perfect for quiet meals, quaint boutiques, and access to beautiful country roads. Stop at Occoneechee State Park for a little fishing or a chance to get your kayak on the water and spend the night at a vacation rental in Clarksville for lobster pancakes at Cooper’s Landing Inn & Traveler’s Tavern the next day. Plan you visit for July to participate in Clarksville’s annual Lakefest celebration with hot air balloons, live entertainment, and a huge fireworks display.
10. The Blue Ridge Parkway
Connecting two national parks, Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Parkway is Virginia’s most famous highway, and a road trip along its length is the perfect way to explore Appalachia. Start your trip at the Dickey Ridge Visitors Center in Front Royal where you can view exhibits about the area’s history, and plenty of information about the sights and activities along your route. Then work your way through Shenandoah National Park, stopping frequently to explore side trails and take photos. Next take a tour at Luray Caverns to do some exploring underground. Plan for an overnight in Montebello and take a side trip to see some of the tallest waterfalls in the state, and then head to Natural Bridge Park for a glimpse of another natural wonder. When you’re passing through Roanoke, make reservations at The River and Rail Restaurant for traditional Southern cuisine or at Local Roots for farm to table freshness. Finish your trip at Fancy Gap with a look at Foster Falls and a hike through Devil’s Den Nature Preserve. Although the drive on the Blue Ridge from Front Royal to Fancy Gap takes less than 8 hours even with sightseeing stops, plan for a few days on the road to get the most out of this adventure.
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