• July 19, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Discover Charlottesville: An Insider’s Guide to the Most Scenic Drives

Are you craving for a scenic escapade that beguiles your senses, calms your spirit, and leaves you yearning for more? Discover Charlottesville, a quintessential Virginian haven that is not just about historic landmarks and vineyard hopping. Today, I invite you to embark on a picturesque journey through the most scenic drives in this charming part of Virginia.

Journey into Jeffersonian Landscapes

The very first leg of our picturesque journey begins with a drive to Monticello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hop onto Virginia’s Route 53 or Thomas Jefferson Parkway to soak in the beauty of Jeffersonian landscapes. Here’s what awaits you on this scenic drive:

  • The Rivanna River’s picturesque views: Traverse this scenic route as you take in the tranquil beauty of the Rivanna River ensconced amidst lush Fluvanna woods. The drive is particularly striking during spring where wildflowers bloom along the roadside and the forests bristle with new life. Fall offers stunning vistas of colorful foliage stretching out as far as the eye can see.

  • The Michie Tavern: Halfway through the journey, make a pit stop at the 18th-century Michie Tavern. Here, you can take a breather and savor Virginia’s traditional southern fare. Do not miss out on their famous fried chicken and an impressive variety of local brews.

  • The Monticello tour: Upon reaching Monticello, prepare to be mesmerized by the plantation house that was designed and inhabited by Thomas Jefferson. The refined architecture encapsulates Jefferson’s intelligent design and stands as a testament to his intricate understanding of aesthetics. Don’t forget to explore the vegetable gardens and vineyards surrounding the property.

Breathtaking Beauty along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Your next journey awaits along the magnificent Blue Ridge Parkway. Connecting Shenandoah National Park to the north with Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the south, this 469-mile scenic drive releases you into nature’s wild embrace.

  • Sweeping vistas and mountain views: As you wind through the verdant expanse, stop by the scenic overlooks that are strategically placed along the route to offer spectacular panoramas of the Appalachian Mountains. Each turn uncovers a new view, like the ribbon of the celestial blueness of the Blue Ridge Mountains unfolding across the horizon during different times of the day.

  • Humpback Rocks: Stop at Humpback Rocks, a striking rock outcrop known for its picturesque views. Take a short hike to the top for an uninterrupted panorama of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Drive into History on James Monroe’s Highland

Your next scenic drive invites you to immerse yourself in history whilst basking in the beauty of nature divinely sprawled around the James Monroe’s Highland. Here’s what awaits you:

  • Serene landscapes: Draped against the majestic backdrop of the Southwest Mountains lies a tranquil scenic route leading to a world steeped in history. This route draws in leaf-peepers during peak fall when trees are ablaze with autumn’s finest colors.

  • Historic James Monroe’s Highland tour: Explore the property where our fourth president resided. Be sure to visit the Guest House, one of the oldest extant presidential dwellings, and stroll through the beautifully manicured gardens.

Skyline Drive: Nature at its Purest

Extend your journey to Skyline Drive in the adjacent Shenandoah National Park. This delightful drive, running 105 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, is also known as heaven’s highway for nature lovers.

  • 105-mile scenic drive: Discover lovely panoramas of the Shenandoah Valley as you wind around the mountaintops of the national park. The vistas change with the seasons and are always a thing of beauty, from vibrant wildflowers in the spring to a riot of autumn colors in the fall.

  • Wildlife spotting: Don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the abundant wildlife that makes Shenandoah their home including white-tailed deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and a plethora of bird species.

Magical Meanderings Along Rt. 151

The next stretch of our picturesque route offers a treat not just for the eyes but also for the palate! Discover a hidden culinary paradise as you embark on the Route 151 journey.

  • Brew Ridge Trail: There is an old saying, “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom”. Experience the essence of this phrase as the Breweries along the Brew Ridge Trail offer plenty of both. Make a well-deserved pit stop at the Devil’s Backbone Basecamp Brewpub and Meadows or the Blue Mountain Brewery.

  • Local wineries: Wineries and vineyards, including the esteemed Veritas Vineyard & Winery and Afton Mountain Vineyards, stretch across the landscape. Treat your taste buds to Virginia’s finest wines and enjoy the vista that extends beyond sprawling vineyards.

The Rural Bliss of Ivy Creek Natural Area

Finally, unleash your love for Mother Nature amidst the charming rural landscapes of the Ivy Creek Natural Area.

  • Network of trails: A robust network of trails winds through diverse habitats, providing a variety of scenic perspectives. The changing light from sunrise to sunset paints different hues, ensuring that each drive through this route is unique.

  • Rich wildlife: Keep your camera ready for some amazing wildlife shots! This natural sanctuary is home to foxes, eagles, and a wide variety of butterflies.

In essence, Charlottesville’s scenic drives string together panoramic views, spectacular landscapes, and rich culture that will leave you spellbound. The city encourages not just a journey, but a story told through the whispering winds of the mountains, blended with the historical recounts of architectural marvels, creating a perfect symphony for a discerning traveler. Discover Charlottesville, the city that beautifully merges the journey with the destination and remember, in every journey, the heart finds a home!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

Receive the latest news

Get the Inside Scoop!

Charlottesville’s latest events and eats, straight to your inbox. Subscribe now!