Peak season for fall colors in much of Northern Virginia will be around the end of October this year. Here are a few ideas for where to go for a relaxing drive to enjoy the view.
Depending on how long you can devote to the outing, there are many great NoVA drives to make the most of our region's beautiful fall colors and foliage.
This perennial favorite is an all-day affair—or longer if you've got the time. Locals and visitors alike flock to this scenic mountain drive, bringing picnics and cameras to capture amazing photos. Camping and cabin rentals are both great options for staying over and getting an early morning headstart. If you're just doing a day-trip, go during the week and save yourself the unbelievable weekend traffic.
Courtesy of Shenandoah National Park
If you head out on I-66 on a late October weekend, you'll see plenty of rolling hills in gorgeous fall hues. Lucky for you, this is how you get to most of the apple orchards in our area as well, so plan accordingly. Hit an orchard or a winery and take a leisurely drive through the countryside while you're at it. For a round-trip starting out within the Beltway, this should take you about half a day.
My favorite small towns to visit out here are Markham, Berryville, and Purcellville. They all have their shares of family orchards and wineries. Who doesn't love a good pumpkin patch or wine tasting? This is the ultimate fall family outing.
Courtesy of Naked Mountain Winery
George Washington Parkway
During peak season, go out of your way to work in a drive along the Potomac River on the GW Parkway. Even if you're just out running errands, pick it up in Old Town Alexandria and just stop at one of the scenic overlooks for a little picnic and some photos.
You could also stop at Mount Vernon for a tour and enjoy the view with a bit of history thrown in. That would be a perfect combination if you've got out-of-town guests.
Courtesy of George Washington's Mount Vernon
Devote a few hours to exploring smaller towns to the south. Take I-95 just past Woodbridge and get off around Quantico or Dumfries to hook up to Route 1. You'll have your choice of local diners, antique stores, and museums if you keep an eye out for interesting signs. Stop in Fredericksburg for lunch in historic downtown and do some window-shopping while you're at it.
Courtesy of the National Museum of the Marine Corps
Prince William Forest Park
This incredible state park has a 12-mile loop that is just long enough for some prime leaf-peeping. It's not far off of I-95, just south of Woodbridge, making it ideal for people who don't have enough time to drive out west. The well-maintained interior roads make this park a favorite with local cyclists and runners while pet parents love the wooded trails. Don't forget to bring a picnic!
Photo by Sarina Petrocelly
Do you have another favorite winding road to explore this fall? Tell us where you go in the comments! Bonus points for cool local restaurant suggestions or must-see scenic overlooks!