5 Fantastic Northern Virginia Scenic Drives – FuninFairfaxVA

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

NEW: In late March and early April, follow this scenic route to see the Washington DC cherry blossoms from the comfort of your car: Washington DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive

5 scenic drives in Virginia perfect for outdoor adventure or a relaxed road trip near Washington DC.

5 Fantastic Northern Virginia Scenic Drives Tips

We especially love Northern Virginia scenic drives on a clear, crisp fall day, when fall foliage makes the views even more appealing. But scenic drives are a welcome pastime throughout the year. In the spring, your views and hikes will be colored with Virginia wildflowers and a bright green canopy. In summer, a drive offers a break from the heat, with views of lush fields and forests. During the winter, snow-covered hills are beautiful, and many wineries offer gorgeous views from cozy tasting rooms.

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 a 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 is scenic during rush hour in Northern Virginia. 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

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

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 endpoint. The route includes two sections of Georgetown Pike (193), named to the National Register of Historic Places, and designated as the first Virginia Byway.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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. Scenic Drive on the Virginia / Maryland Border

Map: Northeast Loudoun County and Maryland Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 52 miles; 2 hours
Sights: Historic parks and towns, Potomac River ferry, wineries and breweries, farms
Activities: Hiking, ferry, history, wineries, breweries, dining

Plan your trip with our guide: Leesburg Scenic Drive Along the Virginia Maryland Border.

This scenic drive begins in historic Leesburg and includes a ride across the Potomac River on a historic ferry. Allow time for optional stops at parks along the C&O Canal in Maryland for hiking, biking, and history. This route also includes quaint towns, relaxing wineries and breweries, and a multi-generational farm selling tasty ice cream. One of the winery roads is dirt and crushed stone, but this drive is easy to navigate and offers relaxing views of the Virginia and Maryland countryside.

Things to do on the Leesburg to Maryland 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:

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 and 2020.

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15 thoughts on “5 Fantastic Northern Virginia Scenic Drives – FuninFairfaxVA”

  1. I did them all! Thx so much for the great detail and wonderful routes. I have shared this link with many friends this spring. What a beautiful place to live. Thank you again!

    Reply
    • That’s fantastic Katie! I really hope you enjoyed these drives as much as we did. FYI that we have 2 new routes in the works and will expand our scenic drives list soon. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this nice feedback.

      Reply
  2. We live in Falls Church and I’m always so thankful that we have such beautiful outdoor spaces so close by! Just did the Snickersville Turnpike & Northwest Loudon Co. drive yesterday and it was gorgeous, especially the rolling hills on 15 South to Aldie at sunset! This route was even more beautiful than I had imagined it would be. Can’t wait to try the other routes on here! Thank you SO much for this wonderful article and looking forward to more material like this!

    Reply
  3. What a great article and guide! I see others were looking for the same thing recently, to get out and just drive during this crazy time. We did northern and southern Loudoun county loop over two days. It was a lot of fun. Has a sense of adventure when you’re unfamiliar with what’s ahead of you and then you reach the point and get a great surprise. We’re looking forward to trying out the next loop. Thank you so much for putting this article together!

    Reply
    • Thank you so much for the nice feedback Buco! I’m glad you enjoyed the drives and are planning to do more. The newest drive we published, on the Virginia / Maryland border, is really fun. Happy driving!

      Reply
  4. Hi! Thanks for the post! I’m dying to go back out and explore the beauty of the country side again. Today my boyfriend and I will be going on Snickersville Turnpike and Northwest Loudoun County drive today. I’m super excited and can’t wait to have some fresh fruits and snacks in the car, and enjoy this drive. 🙂

    Not sure if you care, but in case you were interested in tracking the ages of your readers, I’m 22!

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks so much for the nice comment, Christina. I hope you love the drive as much as I do. The weather is certainly perfect for a drive in the countryside. Happy exploring to you! — Julie

      Reply

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