Stow the snacks and climb aboard that Land Rover to take on Virginia’s outdoor attractions.
Whether you’re cruising in a rugged Range Rover, a sporty Discovery, or an all-terrain Defender, Virginia’s mountains, trails, and scenic byways are waiting. National parks, historic sites, urban recreation, and heritage music routes are on our radar today.
Shenandoah National Park
About an hour and a half from Alexandria, Shenandoah National Park offers the rounded peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Appalachians as well as piedmont and valley views. Hike, camp, or picnic in the park, or take the leisurely route and drive along Skyline Drive. The trail runs from Front Royal in the north to Rockfish Gap (about 105 miles total). There are multiple scenic overlooks to pull over and snap selfies and group photos in front of boulders, trees, and mountain peaks.
Once you make it to Rockfish Gap, you can continue on along the Blue Ridge Parkway (a national parkway and all-American road). This roadway runs for 469 miles until it ends in Swain County, NC (it’s also toll-free). It links Shenandoah National Park to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. You can tick off two national parks on your road trip bucket list. And pat yourself on the back for taking one heckuva drive!
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park
History buffs and hikers can appreciate the vast battlefields, landscapes, and military history of Virginia’s past. About an hour and a half from Alexandria, this road trip lets you tour the battle sites of Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Wilderness, and Spotsylvania.
Attractions include the wounding site of Stonewall Jackson at Guinea Station, the Old Salem Church, and the historic plantation home of Chatham, which was a hospital, communications center, and headquarters during the Civil War. You can also tour the Sunken Road and peruse exhibits at the visitor centers, which includes the Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitor Center and the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center.
Virginia Capital Trail
Strap your bike to the roof, trunk, or trailer hitch (who doesn’t have a trailer hitch on a rough and tough Land Rover?) and head for Richmond’s Virginia Capital Trail. This 50-mile paved trail winds along Route 5 between the Colonial capital of Williamsburg and the current capital of Richmond.
Courtesy of Wikipedia
The trail starts in downtown Richmond at Great Shiplock Park and ends adjacent to the Jamestown Settlement. You can also go to Williamsburg and take off from there. Ride halfway, a quarter of the way, or go for it. This is your road trip, after all. Along the way, you can take in views of the James River, sprawling farmland, plantations, and lots of nature.
Crooked Road Music Trail
About three and a half hours from Alexandria, southwest Virginia’s Crooked Road Music Trail takes travelers on a 300-mile journey through America’s musical roots of bluegrass, gospel, folk, old-time string bands, and more, along the route from Franklin to Ferrum. You’ll encounter scenic terrain, cultural attractions, museums, and historic sites with ties to the Carter family and Ralph Stanley.
Start at the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum near Franklin and work your way past the Blue Ridge Music Center in Carroll County, the Southwest Virginia Cultural Center and Marketplace in Abingdon, the Birthplace of Country Music in Bristol, and the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons to the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood. Along the way, there are smaller venues, restaurants, local festivals, welcome centers, and wayside exhibits.
What’s your favorite Virginia road trip? Where do you take your Land Rover on weekends? Let us know in the comments.