5 Fantastic Northern Virginia Scenic Drives – FuninFairfaxVA

These 5 fantastic Northern Virginia scenic drives near Washington DC are especially inviting when fall foliage and crisp days return to the area. Our favorite routes are perfect for a relaxed outing or an active day trip. Our scenic drive itineraries suggest several stops and activities along the way for hiking, history, dining, drinks, and more local fun.

5 Fantastic Northern Virginia Scenic Drives Tips

Scenic drives are a welcome pastime throughout the year, but fall foliage make these local roads and sites even more appealing. The weather has cooled, the leaves are turning, and the haze of summer has lifted. While crowds of summer tourists are gone, leaf peepers may increase weekend traffic. Relax, take it slow, and enjoy the journey. Here are a few tips about our Northern Virginia scenic drives:

  • These scenic drives in Northern Virginia range from an historic parkway near Washington DC to dirt roads in the countryside. Some are loop drives and some are one way. Click the map link to see the route and decide on your best starting point.
  • Distance and time estimates are from Google Maps assuming normal traffic and no stops.
  • Routes range from 16 to 57 miles, but you could combine several for a longer day trip.
  • Links within each drive lead to more detailed descriptions of our recommended stops.
  • It’s hard to reach all of the scenery without including some major roads, but we’ve tried to avoid congested areas when possible.
  • No drive in Northern Virginia is scenic during rush hour. These drives are best enjoyed on the weekend or between 10:00 and 3:00 on weekdays.

1. Great Falls and Georgetown Pike Scenic Loop Drive

Map: Great Falls and Georgetown Pike Scenic Loop Drive
Distance + Time: 29 mile loop drive; 1 hour
Sights: Farms, forests, grand houses, parks
Activities: Hiking, paddling, history

Fall foliage on Georgetown Pike, one of the best scenic drives in Northern Virginia close to Washington DC
Fall foliage on a Georgetown Pike scenic drive near Washington DC

This scenic drive through Great Falls begins at the town library and ends at one of our favorite Northern Virginia pubs, You could also use the town green as your start and end point. The route includes two sections of Georgetown Pike (193), named to the National Register of Historic Places, and designated as the first Virginia Byway.

Plan your trip with our guide: Georgetown Pike & George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive.

Things to Do on the Great Falls Scenic Drive

2. George Washington Memorial Parkway to Mount Vernon

Map: George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 36 miles one way; 1 hour
Sights: Historic monuments and parks, Potomac River and Washington DC views
Activities: National monuments and parks, hiking, biking, dining, shopping

George Washington Memorial Parkway is perfect for a scenic drive neat DC in the fall
George Washington Memorial Parkway in fall

One of our Northern Virginia scenic drives is a national park, and is just across the river from Washington DC. The historic George Washington Memorial Parkway follows the Potomac River from northeastern Fairfax County, through Arlington County and Alexandria, to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

There are many historic stops along the GW Parkway, along with opportunities for hiking and biking. Allow at least half a day to visit the gem at the end of the parkway, George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Plan your trip with our guide: Georgetown Pike & George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive.

Things to Do on the George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive

3. Snickersville Turnpike and Northwest Loudoun County

Map: Snickersville Turnpike and Northwest Loudoun County Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 60 mile loop drive; 1.5 hours
Sights: Farms, small towns, country stores
Activities: Dining, wineries and breweries, antiquing

The Snickersville Turnpike is one of our favorite scenic drives in Northern Virginia
Scenic Snickersville Turnpike in Loudoun County VA

The roads of Loudoun County offer a wealth of quaint small towns; beautiful wineries, craft breweries, and distilleries; and historic sites and homes. You’ll find many opportunities to learn, explore, and relax along the way. Our route includes the historic Snickersville Turnpike and a drive through northern Loudoun County.

Plan your trip with our guide: Snickersville Turnpike and Loudoun County scenic drive.

Things to Do on the Northwest Loudoun County Scenic Drive

4. Southern Loudoun and Northern Fauquier County Scenic Loop

Map: Southern Loudoun and Northern Fauquier County Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 57 miles; 1.5 hours
Sights: Farms, small towns, Shenandoah foothills
Activities: Hiking, dining, apple-picking, parks

Descending Sky Meadows loop hike in fall
Descending Sky Meadows loop hike in fall

A scenic loop drive is extra fun when it includes both beautiful small towns and open parkland. Our route includes the lovely towns of Aldie, Middleburg, and The Plains, plus the chance to stop for a hike at Sky Meadows State Park and Bull Run Conservancy.

Things to Do on the Southern Loudoun + Northern Fauquier County Scenic Drive

5. Leesburg and Northeast Loudoun County

Map: Leesburg and Northeast Loudoun County Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 30 miles; 1.5 – 2 hours
Sights: Historic parks and towns, Potomac River ferry, wineries, farms
Activities: Wineries, dining, shopping, hiking, ferry ride

Lost Creek Winery Leesburg
Lost Creek Winery Leesburg

While the distance for this route is modest, allow time to stop for a ride on the ferry, to enjoy a glass of Virginia wine, and to explore downtown Leesburg. Some of the winery roads are dirt or crushed stone, but they are all easy to navigate and several offer relaxing views of the Virginia countryside.

Things to do on the Leesburg and Northeast Loudoun County Scenic Drive

Bonus: Scenic Drives Near Northern VA and Worth the Trip

Scenic drives in Northern Virginia are lovely, and there are many beautiful road trip opportunities nearby. Follow these links to plan a scenic weekend getaway or a longer road trip:

While we especially love Northern Virginia scenic drives on a clear, crisp fall day, they are generally beautiful year-round. In the spring, your views and hikes will be sprinkled with Virginia wildflowers. In summer, a drive offers a break from the heat, with views of lush green fields and forests. During the winter, snow-covered hills are beautiful, and many wineries offer gorgeous views from cozy tasting rooms.

We hope you enjoy these Northern Virginia scenic drives throughout the year and have a fun and relaxing time.

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5 fantastic scenic drives near Washington DC with stops and activities along the way, perfect for a Virginia day trip.

 

This article was published in 2016 and updated in 2019.

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