6 Beautiful Northern Virginia Scenic Drives Near Washington DC

These 6 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, and more local fun.

6 beautiful scenic drives near Washington DC with stops and activities perfect for a Virginia day trip.

6 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 Scenic Drive

Trip planner: Great Falls Scenic Drive on Pretty Country Roads in Northern Virginia

Map: Great Falls Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 30 mile loop drive; 1 hour
Sights: Farms, forests, grand houses, parks
Activities: Hiking, paddling, history, dining

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 the historic Georgetown Pike (193), named to the National Register of Historic Places, and designated as the first Virginia Byway.

Part of this drive overlaps the route in drive #2 below. You could combine the two drives for a full day outing.

Things to Do on the Great Falls Scenic Drive

  • Check out the one-room schoolhouse and visit the playground at the Great Falls Grange.
  • Stop at Krop's Crops to shop for produce and treats. In fall, visit the pumpkin patch.
  • Follow Seneca Road to the end for a hike through Seneca Regional Park, then backtrack to Beach Mill Road.
  • Drive Beach Mill to the top-rated L'Auberge Chez Francois, one of the most romantic restaurants in Northern VA. Stop in for a meal or a glass of wine.
  • Make a short side-trip to Riverbend Park for an easy hike along the Potomac River.
  • Hike to the prettiest waterfall near Washington DC at Scott's Run Nature Preserve.
  • Check out the extravagant homes on Swinks Mill Rd and Old Dominion Dr.
  • Stop at Great Falls Park for waterfall views and a hike along Mather Gorge on the River Trail.
  • Take a stroll along Difficult Run and hike to a less-visited section of Great Falls Park.
  • Stop in the center of Great Falls for a meal or drink at The Old Brogue, Bollywood Bistro, or another Great Falls restaurant. Mookie's BBQ is just down the road.

2. Georgetown Pike + George Washington Memorial Parkway

Trip planner: Georgetown Pike & George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive.

Map: Georgetown Pike and George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 50 miles one way; 1.5 hours
Sights: Parks, historic monuments, 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

This drive combines two historic roads. Georgetown Pike is the first road to be designated a Virginia Scenic Byway. The Pike is only 12 miles long, but it offers access to several parks with great hiking along the Potomac River. The drive passes through the center of Great Falls, a pretty Virginia small town. See drive #1 on our list for an alternate route through Great Falls.

The second 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 Georgetown Pike

  • Visit Krop's Crops to shop for produce and treats. In fall, visit the pumpkin patch. In December, pick out a Christmas tree.
  • Dine in the town of Great Falls at one of several good restaurants.
  • Make a short side-trip to Riverbend Park for an easy hike along the Potomac River.
  • Stop at Great Falls Park for waterfall views and a hike along Mather Gorge on the River Trail.
  • Take a stroll along Difficult Run and hike to a less-visited section of Great Falls.
  • Hike to the prettiest waterfall near Washington DC at Scott's Run Nature Preserve.

Things to Do on the George Washington Memorial Parkway Scenic Drive

3. Snickersville Turnpike and Northwest Loudoun County

Trip planner: Snickersville Turnpike and Loudoun County scenic drive.

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.

Things to Do on the Northwest Loudoun County Scenic Drive

4. Hunt Country Drive in Southern Loudoun and Northern Fauquier County

Trip planner: Beautiful Hunt Country Scenic Drive in Northern Virginia

Map: Southern Loudoun and Northern Fauquier County Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 60 miles; 2 hours
Sights: Farms, quaint towns, Shenandoah foothills
Activities: Hiking, wineries, dining, apple-picking, parks

Scenic road in The Plains Virginia
Scenic road in The Plains Virginia

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, Marshall, and The Plains, several wineries and restaurants, plus a visit to Sky Meadows State Park.

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

5. Scenic Drive on the Virginia / Maryland Border

Trip planner: Leesburg Scenic Drive Along the Virginia Maryland Border.

Map: Northeast Loudoun County and Maryland Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 66 miles; 2 hours
Sights: Historic parks and towns, wineries and breweries, farms
Activities: Hiking, history, wineries, breweries, dining

This scenic drive begins in historic Leesburg and travels over the Point of Rocks Bridge. 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.

Update: Our original route included crossing the Potomac on a historic ferry. White's Ferry closed in December 2020 so you can no longer drive this route as a loop. We hope the ferry will reopen in 2021.

Things to do on the Leesburg to Maryland Scenic Drive

6. Fairfax County Scenic Drive on Beautiful Virginia Byways

Trip planner: Fairfax County Scenic Drive on Virginia Byways.

Map: Fairfax County Virginia Byways Scenic Drive
Distance + Time: 46 miles; 1.5 hours
Sights: Virginia Byways, quaint towns, parks, historic sites
Activities: Hiking, biking, paddling, history

Fairfax County scenic drive on Virginia Byways
Fairfax County scenic drive

Explore Fairfax County Virginia as you drive 5 designated Virginia Byways to small towns, beautiful parks, and interesting historic sites. This drive makes a great day trip from Washington DC and includes places to hike, bike, and paddle plus great places to eat and the closest winery to DC.

Things to do on the Fairfax County Scenic Drive

  • Learn about historic Hunter Mill Road and stop to hike or bike.
  • Dine and explore history in Old Town Fairfax.
  • Drive a scenic Virginia Byway to one of the most lovely small towns in Northern Virginia.
  • Hike a scenic stream-side trail and relax at a beautiful Virginia winery.
  • Bike, hike, paddle, and play at three favorite Northern Virginia parks.
  • Visit a workhouse turned art center and a museum devoted to the struggle for women's right to vote.

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. In late March and early April, see the Washington DC cherry blossoms from the comfort of your car on a Washington DC Cherry Blossom Scenic Drive.

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

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