5 Scenic Byway Trips in Virginia You Need To Take

By Jenna Eckel

Virginia is home to five American Byways, a U.S. Department of Transportation national scenic byways designation. Travelers on these winding and curvy drives will experience breathtaking vistas of natural beauty, historic sites, and cultural landmarks.

Blue Ridge Parkway. Photo credit: Virginia Tourism Corporation


Known as “America’s Favorite Drive,” the Blue Ridge Parkway follows the Appalachian Mountain chain and provides some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a registered National Parkway and All-American Road.

Starting/ending points in Virginia: Waynesboro/Galax

Access Points: I-64, I-81 and I-77

You’ll pass through: Buena Vista, Buchanan, Roanoke, Floyd, Meadows of Dan, and Fancy Gap

Scenic overlooks, historic structures, hiking trails, and waterfalls are just some of the highlights. Stops include Peaks of Otter and Mabry Mill.


Stretching from the York River to the James River, the Colonial Parkway connects America’s Historic Triangle – Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.

Total Mileage: 23 miles

Starting/ending points in Virginia: Yorktown/Jamestown

Time to Drive: Approximately an hour

Route: From I-64 take exit 242A and follow 199 West to Colonial Parkway or take exit 242 B for Yorktown to Colonial Parkway.

Colonial Parkway is part of the Colonial National Historical Park, which includes 10,221 acres of connected historical storytelling between Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield, and Colonial Williamsburg. Local oysters are waiting for you at spots like Waypoint Seafood & Grill and Fat Canary.


The Skyline Drive is the main drag through the nearly 200,000-acre Shenandoah National Park. The Drive is a designated National Scenic Byway and a National Historic Landmark. It runs the entire length of SNP and into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Total Mileage: 105 miles

Starting/ending points in Virginia: Front Royal/Waynesboro

Time to Drive: 3 Hours

Access Points: Rt. 340 near Rt. 66 in Front Royal; Rt. 211 in Thornton Gap; Rt. 33 in Swift Run Gap and Rt. 250 near I-64 in Rockfish Gap

Travelers can enjoy hiking, birding, wildlife trails and waterfalls. With 75 overlooks and plenty of places to stay, like Big Meadows Lodge, Skyland Resort and SNP campgrounds, this drive is sure to be an adventure.


Explore “Where America Happened” and discover the land of conflict and reunification. This excursion takes you through key locations from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars in Virginia’s Piedmont Region.

Total Mileage: 180 miles long; 75 miles wide

Starting/ending points in Virginia: Leesburg/Charlottesville

Time to Drive: 4.5 hours

Route: Begins in Virginia at the Virginia/Maryland border just south of Point of Rocks on US 15.

You’ll pass through: Haymarket, Warrenton, Remington, Culpeper, Orange and Old Somerset

With five presidential homes found on this route, including Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, you can make this road trip into an active history lesson. Head to Carter Mountain Orchard to pick apples, eat warm apple cider donuts, and enjoy the mountain views. Stop in Charlottesville for first-rate galleries, wineries, and shopping.


Across the Potomac from Washington, D.C. is a Northern Virginia oasis – the George Washington Memorial Parkway. It was designed in the 1930s as a scenic drive accessible for Northern Virginia and D.C.

Total Mileage: 25 miles

Starting/ending points in Virginia: McLean/Mount Vernon

Time to Drive: Approximately an hour

Route: Accessible from I-495, I-95 and I-66

You’ll pass through: Arlington and Alexandria

Memorial Parkway stretches from Mount Vernon, home of George Washington, along the Virginia side of the Potomac past an array of scenic and historic sites. The drive offers adjacent hiking trails, overlooks, and stops at cultural and historic sites. Visit Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Jones Point Lighthouse, and sobering Arlington National Cemetery.