Alexandria has interesting historic homes and a vibrant arts scene, but when it comes to scenery it’s a little lacking. If you want to discover something truly beautiful, load up your car and get out of the city to see these superb scenic sights all within driving distance of Alexandria, Virginia.
Skyline Drive: Mountainside Road Through Shenandoah National Park
Skyline Drive is a 105-mile stretch of road cutting through Shenandoah National Park, alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains. Stop to admire the views of the Shenandoah Valley from any of the 75 lookouts along the way, or simply enjoy the scenery as it passes your car window.
Traffic can get heavy during the fall and spring, when people slow to admire the changing leaves and wildflowers, but don’t sweat it. Just remember that traveling at a more leisurely pace will allow you to really take in the beauty that’s around you. Keep your eyes peeled for the animals that call the National Park home, including white-tailed deer, black bear, and raccoons.
Head west along the I-66 and US-211 from Alexandria to reach Skyline Drive. You should reach the highway in around an hour and 45 minutes. It takes three hours to travel the entire length of Skyline Drive.
Abel Reservoir: Scenic Stafford County Park and Lake
Abel Reservoir is an oasis in Stafford County, roughly 50 minutes’ drive from Alexandria. Take I-95 S to reach this beautiful park and lake, which is popular with hikers, picnickers, and anglers. You’ll need a Virginia State Fishing License to fish for big largemouth bass, but anyone can enjoy admiring its clear water and high slate cliffs. The area surrounding Abel Reservoir is largely undeveloped, which adds to the ambience. Its boat ramp is open all year round from dawn to dusk, which is a great reminder that Abel Reservoir can be enjoyed at any time.
Chincoteague Island: Remote Scenic Summer Spot
At a little more than three hours from Alexandria, Chincoteague Island is the furthest scenic location detailed here. However, it’s so special that it’s worth making the long drive along the US-50 East.
The seven-mile long island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is most famous for the wild Chincoteague ponies that roam the nearby Assateague Island. But visitors will find much more here to enjoy. Your stay will be all about the simple pleasures, like admiring strolling along the pristine coastline and watching the sun setting over the Chincoteague Bay. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, where waterfowl, shorebirds, and songbirds safely live in a picturesque natural setting, is also not to be missed.
Chincoteague Island is beautiful all year round, but if you want to do more than admire the view make sure to visit during the warmer months. Many hotels, restaurants, and retail outlets only trade from May to October. The Carnival held every July is also great fun.
Alexandria is a wonderful place to live or visit, but if you want to admire scenery you’ll need to hit the road and discover some of the stunning sights just outside the city limits.