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If you’re looking for an enjoyable back road adventure to experience with your family this spring or summer, these road trip ideas are just the thing for you! With six options in Pennsylvania, five options in Virginia, and two in Delaware, there’s definitely something for everyone: whether you’d rather spend your vacation pedaling down a bike trail, stuffing your toes in the sand at the beach, hiking through the mountains and woods, sipping local beer or wine, or lazily fishing in the river, you’re sure to find an activity you’ll love in this list.
In order to pull this list together, I built on the initial groundwork laid in my earlier road trip mega-collaboration. In this installment, I delve even deeper into back road options for you to consider: working with multiple regional tourism agencies in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, I pulled together several trip ideas for each state. Each agency very generously provided images, maps, and other details for this collaboration, and we are very grateful! As is always the case here at Take Back Roads, if you have any suggestions on additional trip ideas, please send them to me!
Road Trips in Delaware
Though Delaware is one of the smallest states in the country – and is home to the fewest miles of Interstate Highway in the country! – it still has a couple back road adventure options worth consideration.
Delaware’s Quaint Villages
Danielle Jonigan, Visit Delaware Villages
Escape the hustle and bustle of life with a scenic drive through Delaware’s Quaint Villages’ thriving Amish countryside! Just west of Dover, visitors can soak in the sights and sounds of the peaceful farmland. Spot Amish farms, homes and even horse & buggies along the way.
Stop into one of the many Amish-owned shops for baked goods, Amish made furniture, fabrics and so much more. Wander this peaceful countryside, savor its simplicity, and sample some hearty dining along the way! Don’t forget to stock up at Byler’s and Spence’s Bazaar & Amish Market for a unique shopping experience. Indulge in fresh baked pies, goodies, homemade breads, made-to-order Amish cuisine and so much more!
Images courtesy of Visit Delaware Villages
Road Trip through Delaware’s Coastal State Parks
Abby Shepard, Delaware State Parks
There are 17 state parks in the little state of Delaware. From beaches and inland ponds, to historic sites and cultural resources, there is so much to explore! While you should definitely visit all 17 state parks, this road trip through Southern Delaware will show you the best of Delaware’s coastal region!
Stop 1: Cape Henlopen State Park Start your trip at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware. The park is situated at the point where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating a unique combination of natural wonders and cultural history. The bay and ocean ecosystems allow for a wide array of wildlife. During WWII, the park’s strategic location at the mouth of the Delaware Bay led to the creation of a military base called Fort Miles. There is so much to do at Cape Henlopen, but during your stop make sure you don’t miss the Seaside Nature Center, the Point overlook, and the Gordon’s Pond Trail.
Stop 2: Delaware Seashore State Park From Cape Henlopen, continue south on Route 1 – Delaware’s Coastal Highway – to Delaware Seashore State Park, located just south of Rehoboth and Dewey. This park offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Rehoboth and Indian River Bays to the west. Delaware Seashore is known for its wild ocean shoreline, the dynamic Indian River Inlet, and a rich maritime heritage. During your visit, be sure to take a self-guided tour of the Indian River Life-Saving Station, hike over the Indian River Bridge, and catch some waves at the beach. You can grab lunch with a view at the Big Chill Beach Club on the South Side of the Inlet, or at Hammerheads at the Indian River Marina.
Stop 3: Holts Landing State Park Next, continue south and west for a quick stop at Holts Landing State Park. Located on the south shore of the Indian River Bay in Dagsboro, Delaware, Holts Landing State Park is a hidden gem of Delaware State Parks. You’ll be amazed at this peaceful oasis filled with variety of beautiful landscapes, from bay shore beach to grassy fields and hardwood forests. During your visit, walk out on the pier for a view of the bay, and hike the Seahawk Trail to explore the park’s diverse habitats.
Stop 4: Fenwick Island State Park Finally, end your trip at Fenwick Island State Park, a narrow strip of barrier dunes between the Atlantic Ocean and Little Assawoman Bay in Fenwick Island, Delaware. This park is an excellent spot for swimming, fishing, and paddling. During your visit, take a swim in the ocean, or rent a kayak to paddle through the Assawoman Bay.
Images courtesy of Delaware State Parks
Road Trips in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State due to its geographical and historical importance to America’s original 13 colonies. It’s also my home state. I try not to write too much about it – but it is understandably challenging at times! Though I’ve written a number of blogs about road trip ideas in Pennsylvania, none of these seven are mine!
The Erie Seaway Trail
Christine Temple, VisitErie
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail – A National Scenic Byway
The Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a 518-mile scenic drive route that follows the shores of Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River through northern New York and Pennsylvania. One of the first roads in America to be designated as a National Scenic Byway, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail combines multiple historical locations and cultural heritage sites with many outstanding views and scenic vistas. The Trail connects destinations such as Presque Isle State Park, the American side of Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands, plus the cities of Erie, Buffalo, Rochester and other charming waterfront towns and villages.
The Seaway Trail begins at the Ohio/Pennsylvania border on US Route 20. It then switches over and follows Pa Route 5 and Alt-Route 5 through PA, eventually terminating at Sackets Harbor NY. Here is a link for the maps of the Seaway Trail.
Places of Interest on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail:
Presque Isle State Park – A National Natural Landmark
French for “almost an island,” Presque Isle is a seven-mile strip of land jutting into Lake Erie. It was recently named the #1 freshwater beach in the country, as well as the top Pennsylvania attraction. The “peninsula,” as it is known locally, is home to a remarkable array of plant, animal, bird and aquatic life. You can visit the park to swim, fish, hunt, hike, bike, bird watch and more. Drive the loop around the 3,200-acre peninsula and experience seven miles of sandy surf beaches, eleven miles of hiking trails and 13.5 miles of paved biking, in-line skating and jogging trails. A day at Presque Isle would not be complete without visiting Sunset Point, known for its beautiful sunsets. There are also several camping and other overnight options available nearby.
Images courtesy of VisitErie
Historic Pa Route 6
Named by National Geographic as “One of America’s most scenic drives”, US Route 6 in Pennsylvania is the heart of the American Dream. This magical and tranquil highway along Pennsylvania’s northern tier is 400 plus miles of history and heritage, linking small towns, generations of people and wondrous sights often forgotten. U.S. Route 6 travels east–west near the north edge of the U.S. state of Pennsylvania from the Ohio state line near Pymatuning Reservoir east to the Mid-Delaware Bridge over the Delaware River into Port Jervis, New York. It is the longest highway segment in the Commonwealth.
Take a Route 6 History Tour! Route 6 hiStory Tours is a series of guide-by-cell walking/driving tours that highlight local people and places, historic sites of national importance, and architectural treasures of five downtowns located along Erie County’s Route 6 Heritage Corridor. Residents and visitors alike can dial and discover! Dial (814) 419-3059 and follow the prompts and dial in the number of your location. Site numbers are displayed on signs placed along the tour routes. Listen to a short narration of historical information and directions to the next stop along the tour. The guide is free, but you must use your own cell service and minutes. Tour Albion, Edinboro, Waterford, Union City and Corry.
Places of interest to check out along PA Route 6/6N:
Ephiphany’s Emporium (Corry PA) – This whimsical shop is full of local and regional artisan crafted leather handbags and journals, wooden pens, felted animals, alpaca and batik scarves, shaker boxes, craft sodas and more!
Goodell Gardens & Homestead (Edinboro PA) – Featuring a large collection of rare, extirpated, and native plants, a pollinator garden ad a collection of rhododendron and azaleas. Our botanical garden and arboretum is located on a portion of the historic 78-acre Goodell Farm. Reserve your group tour or attend one of our classes, concerts, or special events!
Painted Finch Gallery (Waterford, PA) A celebration of amazing local and regional artists which includes Amy Hahn’s glass mosaics, Jack Paluh’s landscapes, Kathe Umlauf’s bronzes and Gail Beem’s pastels. This golden destination for art lovers features over seventy local and regional artists. Styles range from traditional to modern in a variety of mediums.
George Washington Memorial Park (Waterford, PA) – This statue of George Washington, the only one existing depicting him as a young man and the only one of him in a British uniform, was moved from its original site by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission onto the Fort LeBoeuf Chapter Washington Memorial Lot.
Images courtesy of VisitErie
Laurel Highlands Scenic By-Way, Routes 381/711
Anna Weltz, Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau
A trip along the 68-mile Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway in southwestern Pennsylvania is a journey that will excite the senses and pique the interests of every traveler. From rolling hillsides and rushing waterfalls to picturesque farmlands and architectural wonders, the Laurel Highlands Scenic Byway has it all.
Home to some of the best biking and pedestrian trails in the nation, take your time along this byway. Pull the car over and get a closer look at Ohiopyle State Park, a treasure for those who love hiking and sparkling waterfalls.
Not too far away are two of architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations Fallingwater and Kentuck Knob. Fallingwater is absolutely breathtaking and a must-see. Kentuck Knob is nestled into the hillside with only two right angles in the entire house!
As you travel north on the by-way, you’ll stop at Living Treasures Wild Animal Park, home to Padawan the Sloth. This is a must-see for families with little ones!
Wright fans, take a detour off the Laurel Highlands Scenic By-Way to Polymath Park to explore two rebuilt designs and two designed by his apprentice, Peter Berndtson. If you plan it just right, you may even be able to stay overnight in one of these stunning homes.
As you near the end of the by-way, you’ll find yourself in the charming town of Ligonier. Explore 60 specialty shops and boutiques and the local favorite, the Ligonier Country Market. While you’re in town, you may even witness a wedding on the town’s iconic bandstand! For history buffs, journey back to the 18th century and discover Fort Ligonier, a restored French and Indian War. Its museum includes over 200 artifacts recovered from the Fort and George Washington’s original saddle pistols.
Images courtesy of Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau
The West Branch Susquehanna Byway
Are you looking for an adventure? The West Branch Susquehanna Byway is home to a number of adventures that awaits you at every turn. The West Branch Susquehanna Byway is a scenic and natural beauty that is a must see. During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Susquehanna River was a lifeline of historic Clearfield County. The River served as the lumber transport system that fueled the once-booming economy.
The byway was primarily named after the river because of its historical significance. However, they also share the name because the byway provides access to the abundance of recreational opportunities that the Susquehanna River offers, both on its banks and in its waters.
The West Branch Susquehanna Byway offers seventy-two miles of winding roads showcasing historic, archeological, cultural, recreational, natural and scenic rarities that are inherent of Clearfield County. This byway is a great outlet for the outdoorsman, civil war buff, foodie, photographer, and the explorer.
McGees Mills Covered Bridge
This Bridge is the only covered bridge crossing the mighty Susquehanna River and the only one still being used in Clearfield County. The 122 ft. single span Burr arch truss bridge was built in 1873 by Thomas A. McGee. Thomas built the bridge using hand hewed white pine timbers from the area and at a cost of $175. It was the last covered bridge built in Clearfield County. Thousands of rafts floated under the bridge including the last raft in 1938. The bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and renovated in 1994 after a collapse caused by record-breaking ice and snow. This scenic spot remains one of the most popular photographic attractions in Clearfield County and is also located at the very beginning or end of the West Branch Susquehanna Byway.
Over 300 million years ago, before the settlers, before the Indians, way back when the earth was taking its shape; a city was built just outside of Grampian in Clearfield County. This prehistoric city was like none other, for it was made of massive rocks. Twenty acres of massive rocks to be exact. Some of the rocks tower of five stories high and most of them are over 20 feet thick. The geological phenomenon responsible for this masterpiece is known as frost wedging. Frost wedging causes boulders to break away from the mountainside and helped create this magnificent vision full of numinous caverns and narrow passageways that has withstood eons of vagaries. There are 170 acres of park land where the Bilger’s Rocks Association offers campsites, pavilions, picnic area, a concert arena, recreational activities and even a concession stand that is open every weekend. www.bilgersrock.net
Curwensville Lake is a reservoir located just to the south of the town of Curwensville. The lake was formed due to the construction of the Curwensville Dam to the north of the lake. Before the dam was built, there were several floods occurring along the West Branch Susquehanna River, affecting the towns of Curwensville, and Clearfield to the north. On September 3, 1954 a Flood Control Act was passed due to the flooding along the West Branch river basin. The dam cost $20,400,000 to construct. Curwensville Lake offers many opportunities to entertain the whole family. Biking, hiking, boating, camping and fishing are just a few of the activities available at Curwensville Lake. And with no horse power regulations on the lake, visitors can enjoy the open waters with their boat and spend some relaxing time catching some of the freshwater fish.
Denny’s Beer Barrel Pub
Denny’s was founded by Denny and Jean Liegey in September 1977. Denny’s started making giant hamburgers to attract attention and to create a fun atmosphere for all. Denny’s is known nationally as the home of the “World’s Largest Hamburger Challenges.” It all started with a 2 lb. hamburger challenge with homemade buns baked in a coffee can and the rest is history. Denny’s became famous in 1998 for “The Ye Olde 96er” and have been featured on tv shows like Rachel Ray, The Food Network, Travel Channel, Good Morning America and many more. Guests have dined from all 50 states and many from countries around the world.
The West Branch Susquehanna Byway is a beautiful scenic back road and fun byway. This is just a small taste of what the byway has to offer. Visit us in person or on our website, www.visitclearfieldcounty.org, to learn more about the West Branch Susquehanna Byway.
Images courtesy of Visit Clearfield County
Route 403 – A multi-county jaunt across Central PA Woodlands
Olivia Bragdon, Visit Johnstown
Pennsylvania State Route 403 connects Somerset, Cambria, and Indiana counties, creating a fun back roads jaunt. Originating at a junction with historic US Route 30 in the village of Kantner, Route 403 zigs and zags its way north through the heart of Pennsylvania’s vast central woodlands. It terminates over 60 miles away, at its intersection with US Route 119 west of Marion Center.
When traveling 403 north on a nice day, make sure to stop by Greenhouse Park, the area’s only engineered whitewater park. The banks of the Stonycreek River offer the perfect stopover to watch kayakers or tubers enjoy floating on the water…. Or even better, try it out yourself! Coal Tubin offers several river tours.
Continue following the route into downtown Johnstown, where you pass the Johnstown Inclined Plane, the world’s steepest funicular. The entrance to ride connects to the route, so this may be a perfect spot to rest and take a different kind of ride.
You’ll also drive through Johnstown’s first neighborhood, Cambria City, a national historic district featuring art galleries, museums and great street festivals. Stop by the Phoenix Tavern for one of their famous Chicken Balls.
Continue out of the city and onto the back roads of winding route 403. The route snakes alongside the banks of the Conemaugh River for a couple miles before jagging north through Cramer towards the quaint village of Dilltown and the Blacklick Creek.
It continues bobbing and weaving through the woods before reaching the town of Clymer, named after George Clymer, one of the signers of the Declarations of Independence. A few more miles of wooded wilderness and you reach your destination, Marion Center.
Images courtesy of Visit Johnstown
Pocono Mountains – US Route 209
Kelly Shannon, Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau
The Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania encompass four counties: Monroe, Carbon, Wayne, and Pike. Route 209 can be taken through a large portion of the region, with tons to do and see along the way. Visitors can take the ultimate Pocono road trip by taking one route, US-209 from downtown Jim Thorpe to downtown Milford. There are several towns and sections to highlight along the way:
A charming town popular for adventurers, Jim Thorpe is often referred to as “America’s Little Switzerland,” in reference to the unique architecture. Road trippers will want to experience the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, a spectacular way to view the natural beauty along the Lehigh. Near the downtown area, visitors can find plenty of outdoor activities, like whitewater rafting, biking, and hiking. Hikes in the Lehigh Gorge State Park can be difficult, but extremely rewarding with several vistas and impressive waterfalls.
Stroudsburg shines with a striking mix of small-town charm and modern appeal. The vibrant downtown is home to murals, festivals, music venues, various dining options, and more. A perfect afternoon and evening in downtown Stroudsburg can begin with a delicious lunch at the Cure Café, followed by a downtown walk exploring the various boutique stores, like The Apple Tree. Next, get your road trip buddies together and take on an escape room at Klues Escape Room. Celebrate your success of breaking out of the room in time with dessert at Kitchen Chemistry and a wine tasting at RAW Urban Winery & Hard Cidery. End the night with a show at the Sherman Theater.
Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Road trippers will be traveling through the majority of this 70,000-acre park with views of the Delaware River. The area is rich in both cultural and natural history. The river valley contains streams, waterfalls, geologic features, a diversity of plants and wildlife, and traces of the past. Popular activities include canoeing, rafting, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and camping. Dingmans Falls is an easy boardwalk in-and-out trail along Route US-209 with one of the most gorgeous waterfalls in the state!
Coming through from the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, back road trippers will want to check out the final waterfall on the route into Milford: Raymondskill Falls. At approximately 150 feet tall, Raymondskill Falls is the largest waterfall in the state of Pennsylvania.
Milford is touched by such treasures as Grey Towers National Historic Site, and the Columns Museum: Home of the famous “Lincoln Flag.” A top destination for arts and entertainment, Milford is also the site of the Annual Black Bear Film Festival and the Milford Music Festival. Nearby, you’ll find outdoor adventures including river sports, zip lining, and horseback riding. A variety of dining and lodging destinations, like the Hotel Fauchere, provide options to suit every taste and budget.
Images courtesy of Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau
Adams County Gettysburg Scenic Valley Tour
Rachel Wright, Destination Gettysburg
Adams County, PA’s Scenic Valley Tour is a carefully planned driving loop of Adams County back roads that take drivers through areas of historic interest and scenic beauty. The tour covers 36 miles south, west and north of Gettysburg, including many of Adams County’s famous orchards.
The driving tour starts in downtown Gettysburg and takes drivers past historic buildings such as the Meade School which is now a boutique hotel called the Federal Pointe Inn and the Gettysburg Lutheran Theological Seminary which includes the Seminary Ridge Museum. Drivers then travel through sections of Gettysburg National Military Park past monuments and cannons with paved areas for pulling over.
The Scenic Valley Tour then takes drivers through the Adams County countryside past historic structures like Sach’s Covered Bridge, Lower Marsh Creek Presbyterian Church and a statue of Mary Jemison at the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola. This part of the Scenic Valley Tour is especially beautiful as the roads go right through the Adams County portion of the South Mountain Fruit Belt. Winding roads travel along bountiful orchards, picturesque valley’s and quaint towns.
To get a taste of the Adams County countryside, visitors can stop at Reid’s Orchard and Winery to sample local wine and hard cider while taking in the views of Buchanan Valley. The Scenic Valley Tour ends back in historic downtown Gettysburg where there are many shops, restaurants and attractions in and around Lincoln Square to visit.
Images courtesy of Destination Gettysburg
Road Trips in Virginia
Like Pennsylvania, the state of Virginia is both a Commonwealth and one of the original 13 colonies… And like Pennsylvania, Virginia is home to a vast and dynamic landscape, full of fascinating back road adventures to experience!
Virginia Route 5 & the Virginia Capital Trail
Meghan Gearino, Visit Richmond
Explore the Richmond Region all the way to historic Williamsburg via beautiful Route 5. This scenic road takes visitors past the James River in Richmond ending at the Jamestown Settlement. Following along most of Route 5 is the brand new, 52-mile long Virginia Capital Trail. This dedicated bike and pedestrian trail offers an active way to see the sites along Route 5 including the popular Ronnie’s BBQ for a bite to eat, Upper Shirley Vineyards for a wine-tasting, and Chickahominy Riverfront Park. Bike rentals and tours are provided by Basket & Bike and electric bikes can be rented from Pedego RVA, located in the Shockoe Bottom neighborhood of Richmond.
Additional details about this back road and bike trail can be found here:
Virginia Capital Trail: https://www.virginiacapitaltrail.org/
Images courtesy of Visit Richmond
Virginia Route 619
Nicole Warner, Prince William County Office of Tourism
Route 619 is just one reason Prince William, Virginia is known as Washington D.C.’s Countryside. Just miles outside of D.C., visitors can take a back road off the beaten path, where they can find tree-lined country roads, enjoy unique attractions, and eat great local food!
Just a few of the unforgettable historic attractions along this winding road:
Prince William Forest National Park – the largest green space in Northern Virginia, and home to several rustic cabins once used during WWI & II as part of a spy training camp.
Quantico National Cemetery – visitors can pay homage to those who served with a stop by this memorial cemetery.
Brentsville Historic Centre – once the Prince William County seat, this historic property gives visitors a glimpse into the American Civil War and the ghosts that have been claimed to still haunt it.
Prince William, Virginia is becoming a hub for great food and drinks in Northern Virginia. Along this route visitors can grab lunch at District BBQ to taste authentic VA barbeque at its finest, choose to experience Out of the Blue Seafood, where they can find fresh blue crabs, oysters and signature cocktails all year round, or saddle up to the bar at Grafton Street Restaurant & Pub for a modern twist on Irish fare. Don’t forget to stop by Duck Donuts or Sweet Zen7 Health Bar for a sweet treat before continuing on your journey!
Roanoke Valley & the Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP)
Taylor Spellman, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Take a road trip along the Blue Ridge Parkway right into the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge to enjoy a metropolitan mountain getaway. Shop and stretch your legs at the markets and boutiques in Downtown Roanoke and Salem, Virginia. Hike on a trail in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Go for a ride in America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital. Discover wildlife while kayaking on the Upper James River Water Trail. Dine at a local restaurant and enjoy fresh, amazingly prepared ingredients, or sample the craft beverage scene. Find tons of activities, outdoor adventures, local restaurants and cozy and accommodating local bed and breakfasts right off of the Parkway. Plan your perfect Blue Ridge Day at VisitVBR.com.
The Blue Ridge Parkway itself is 469 beautiful miles in total. It was constructed in the 1930’s to connect the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. The Blue Ridge Parkway, known as America’s Favorite Drive, winds leisurely right through the heart of the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, from milepost 86 through milepost 176, and provides some of the most incredible views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Blue Ridge Parkway detailed Map. There is no cost to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
This iconic two-lane road is beautiful year-round, but is especially spectacular in spring and fall. Take this road trip to enjoy birding, hiking, and simply driving through the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway is operated by the National Park Service and provides multiple scenic overlooks and gateways into many charming communities along the way.
The Parkway is only a 10-minute drive from Downtown Roanoke, the largest metropolitan center along the Blue Ridge Mountain chain in Virginia. Take milepost 120 into Roanoke to find an energized mix of exciting adventure and refined culture.
Find an amazing craft beverage at Cheers Trail, or grab a bite at renowned restaurants like Texas Tavern, The Roanoker Restaurant, River & Rail and Local Roots. There’s also a thriving arts scene, with live music and world-class performances year-round at venues like Mill Mountain Theatre and the Berglund Center.
Don’t miss a visit to the world’s largest free-standing illuminated star, The Roanoke Star atop Mill Mountain. Experience over 600 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails throughout the region, including the world-famous Appalachian Trail, Carvins Cove and Mill Mountain Park. Explore vibrant walkable streets with a local farmers market, a cultural hub Center in the Square, the striking Taubman Museum of Art and Virginia Museum of Transportation then spend a day shopping at Black Dog Salvage, home to hit TV show Salvage Dawgs.
Images courtesy of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge
Images Credit as Following:
BRP Aerial: Star City SkyCams, BRP Motorcycle: Cameron Davidson, Roanoke Star: Sam Dean Photography, Taubman: Taubman Museum of Art, DT Roanoke aerial: Creative Dog Media, Mabry Mill: Brent McGuirt Photography
Back Roads to Visit the Urban Oasis of Lynchburg, Virginia
Krista Boothby, Lynchburg Tourism Bureau
Take a detour off I-64 at exit 118 in Virginia and turn onto US 29 South. Enjoy the hour-long drive surrounded by mountain views and quaint villages as you wind your way down to Lynchburg. Follow route VA-210 West until it ends at South Amherst Highway. Turn left to cross the 5th Street Bridge, taking note of the incredible view of Downtown Lynchburg beside the James River.
Aptly known as the Hill City, Lynchburg’s Downtown is a big city in a small package. Just eight blocks long and five blocks “high”, Lynchburg offers the amenities of a big city like great coffee houses, eclectic eateries, and engaging attractions but in more manageable size.
Top places to visit in Lynchburg:
Amazement Square – 27 Ninth Street – Lynchburg’s National Medal winning Amazement Square is sits alongside the James River and offers four floors of interactive exhibitions, workshops and educational programming. The Amazement Tower, a meandering tangle of pathways, tunnels, illuminating stairs, and glass elevator, connects all the Museum’s exhibitions, and is the tallest indoor, interactive climbing structure in the United States!
Lynchburg Museum – 901 Court Street – Looking up Ninth Street from the James River you get a view like no other of the Monument Terrace’s 139 steps, leading to the Lynchburg Museum. The museum, located in the Old Court House on top of the hill, keeps watch over the city. The museum offers a glimpse of 200+ years of Lynchburg history and covers the prominent figures and events that helped build the city.
Riverviews Artspace – 901 Jefferson Street – On the revitalized Lynchburg riverfront, Riverviews Artspace is a mixed-use space in a renovated warehouse. It houses artist studios, galleries, art-related shops, and residences. The Craddock-Terry Gallery has exhibitions of regionally, nationally and internationally recognized contemporary artists. Check their calendar for film screenings, poetry readings, and open houses.
James River Adventures – 150 Rocky Hill Road, Madison Heights – Explore the James River by kayak or canoe. Just across the river from Downtown Lynchburg, James River Adventures offers canoe and kayak rentals to people of all skill levels. They provide the opportunity to learn more about nature and experience the river’s history, health and future. You can also take a ride on their batteau reproduction, the river-borne long-haul truck of the early 1800s!
Percival’s Island Trail – 1600 Concord Turnpike – Rent a bike from Bikes Unlimited or take a walk on Percival’s Island. The old railroad bed is now a paved, maintained hiking/biking trail that traverses the length of the island, connecting to miles of trails that wind throughout the city. The park is maintained as a haven for plants and animals, and there are many spots where the James River is accessible and fishing is permitted.
Hoppy Books – 56 Ninth Street – There is nothing better than settling down to read with a beer and a great book. Hoppy Books offers an amazing selection of make your own six packs that take almost as long to pick as it does to select one of their used books.
A visit to the urban oasis of Lynchburg in the heart of Central Virginia is a must experience. Go to LynchburgVirginia.org to learn more!
Images courtesy of Lynchburg Tourism Bureau
Snickersville Turnpike, Loudoun County
Jennifer Sigal, Visit Loudon
Slip off the highway and onto one of the historic scenic byways in Loudoun, Va. Snickersville Turnpike is considered one of the most beautiful country escapes in Loudoun. The road rises and falls along the lush Loudoun Valley and includes a beautiful 19th century double-arched stone bridge over Beaverdam Creek. Begin on Route 50 near the town of Aldie and head northwest.
The turnpike climbs 950 feet up in elevation as it meanders toward the Blue Ridge Mountains. Along the way, experience classic Victorian farmhouses, historic stone structures and Civil War markers documenting many of the skirmishes that happened along the route. Make sure to stop at Philomont General Store, which has operated for more than a century, for local and international gourmet goods.
Another must-visit is Great Country Farms. This pick-your-own farm includes a petting zoo, children’s activities and country store. Be sure to venture off onto some of the other country roads connected to the turnpike to experience Loudoun’s robust craft beverage scene. Must-visit stops include B Chord Brewery and Bluemont Vineyard.
Images courtesy of Visit Loudoun