Perhaps we're rushing things, but it seems like winter is on its way out. If you live in or around Northern Virginia and like road trips, this is great news. It's time to hop in the car and go for a drive!
There are dozens of beautiful destinations and scenic drives in Northern VA that should go on your to-do list this year. Most of them would be beautiful drives any time of year, but shaking off the winter doldrums is the perfect excuse to get started now, with a day trip or weekend getaway to Mount Vernon by way of the George Washington Memorial Parkway.
This drive begins in northeastern Fairfax County at Turkey Run Park. From there, the drive is only a little over an hour if you go straight to Mt. Vernon. The destination is never the whole point of a road trip, however, and there are plenty of interesting stops along the route.
Courtesy of Google Maps
In fact, the route itself–George Washington Memorial Parkway–makes up a large part of a national park that winds along the Potomac River. As you drive, the sights alone are worth your time, with overviews of the beautiful Potomac along the northern parts and great views of D.C. monuments once you get further south.
Trail sign at Turkey Run Park, image courtesy of Fun In Fairfax.
There are also plenty of places to stop along the way and get your steps in (or your pedaled miles in, if biking is more your thing). Consider planning some of these stops for the drive down and others for the drive back. If you're devoting a full weekend to the road trip, you'll be able to get more of the stops in than you would in a single day.
Turkey Run Park: This park includes 2–2.5 miles of trails and loops that you can easily access from parking lot C-1. Part of the hiking trail here is a section of the Potomac Heritage Trail, which follows the Potomac River for many miles.
Theodore Roosevelt Island: This slice of nature-lover's paradise offers dirt hiking paths, a boardwalk, an intertidal marsh, and a memorial to President Teddy Roosevelt.
U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial: This memorial to the fallen is worth a stop if you've never been. During the summer there are also sunset parades one day per week.
Arlington National Cemetery: If you've never taken the time to honor the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery, it is worth a stop. If nothing else, take a few moments to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which occurs every hour on the hour year-round (every half-hour in the summer).
Lady Bird Johnson Park: The grounds of this island park are open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and include the Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove and the Navy and Marine Memorial.
Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve: If you're looking for a place to bike during your road trip, this is the spot, covering part of the 18-mile, paved Mount Vernon trail.
Image courtesy of NPS
The end goal of this road trip is George Washington's Estate in Mount Vernon. If you are doing this whole trip in a single day, reserve at least half a day for Mount Vernon, since there is plenty to see. There are the grounds, designed by George Washington himself, the mansion, the historically preserved slave quarters and outbuildings, the gardens, and the heritage sheep and pigs. There is also Washington's tomb and a slave memorial.
Image courtesy of Fun In Fairfax
Have you done this road trip? Tell us what you think in the comments!