Have you ever found yourself behind the wheel in an attempt to clear your mind and relax? Surprising or not, a drive to nowhere can be therapeutic and beneficial for the mind. Today, driving is commonly associated with road-rage, stress, anxiety, and frustration; however, in some studies, it has been found that driving does have some psychological benefits. Professor Lynne Pearce outlines some of these benefits, which include: increased problem-solving and stress relief. Life can be hectic and extremely stressful, so in an attempt to clear your mind, here are our top picks for the top five scenic drives in the DMV area.
5.Blue Ridge Parkway (a.k.a “America’s Favorite Drive)
Starting Location: Afton, VA
Ending Location: Swain County, NC
Length: 393 miles
It’s crazy how the scenic drive coined as “America’s Favorite Drive”, by the Blue Ridge Parkway Association, lands at number five on our list. A bit biased of them to make a statement like that, for sure, but regardless of how we feel, this scenic parkway is worth a drive nonetheless. It’s definitely a bit of a stretch, pun fully intended, at 393 miles, but it offers a variety of stunning and scenic views that are a must see. A majority of this scenic route runs through the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. This drive will not only clear your mind and relieve you of life’s daily stresses, but it will let you witness nature at its absolute finest!
4.Colonial National Parkway
Starting Location: York River, Yorktown, VA
Ending Location: James River, Jamestown, VA
Length: 23 miles
This 23-mile scenic drive known as Colonial National Parkway offers a peaceful and stunning environment. Connecting Colonial Williamsburg to the historic city of Yorktown, this byway is both history-packed and simply gorgeous. This short stretch provides drivers with overviews of the James and York rivers, as well as shady passageways through pine and hardwood forests. Motor through 400 years of American colonial history, and add this scenic, historical drive to your list!
Starting Location: Keysers Ridge, MD
Ending Location: Baltimore, MD
Length: 183 miles (824 miles if a trip to Illinois catches your interest)
Little known fact: this drive follows a part of the historic route that once connected the city of Baltimore, Maryland to the city of Vandalia, Illinois, better known as the National Road or Cumberland Road. It was the nation’s first federally funded highway. This road was built in 1811, and guess what, you can still drive it today, and we highly recommend doing that! This historical drive is a fee-free way to take a trip back 200 years. Along this byway, you will come across classic inns, tollhouses, diners, and motels that date back to the 19th century. Even if history really isn’t your thing, driving along a byway that is considered” The Road That Built The Nation” would be a pretty decent way to clear your mind, as it offers plenty of scenic overlooks in places like Rocky Gap State Park and Mount Airy.
2.Mountain Maryland Byway
Starting Location: Keysers Ridge, MD
Ending Location: Cumberland, MD
Length: 90 miles
If you’ve never had the opportunity to dive this scenic route, you are truly missing out on a great experience! This 90-mile stretch traverses through the sweeping mountains in Western Maryland. You will truly forget that you are even in Maryland along this drive, as it looks like a landscape you’d only find in the most picturesque areas in the United States South. The Instagram worthy views of this scenic byway is a must-see, and the easy, mind-clearing drive that is the Mountain Maryland Byway is definite recommend.
Starting Location: Front Royal, VA
Ending Location: Afton, VA
Length: 105 miles
An easy favorite, for us and many alike, is Skyline Drive in Northwestern Virginia. This gorgeous, 105-mile stretch is the main artery of the Shenadoah National Park, and it offers nearly 70 breathtaking views of the Shenandoah Valley to the west and the rolling Piedmont region to the east. Good ol’ Skyline Drive offers you an opportunity to see some of the diverse wildlife in the area which includes deer, black bears, turkeys, and many of other woodland animals. The speed limit is 35 mph, which gives you an opportunity to cruise down the windy turns of this beautiful Virginia drive. There is no drive more therapeutic and calming than the great Skyline Drive.
We would love to hear your thoughts! Do you agree with our selection of the best, most scenic drives in the DMV area? Are there any great drives in the area that you all recommend?