The Blue Ridge Parkway
One slow-paced, less-crowded alternative to Skyline Drive is the Blue Ridge Parkway, boldly nicknamed “America’s Favorite Drive” (the Pacific Coast Highway could not be reached for comment). The full 469-mile parkway stretches from Rockfish Gap at the southern end of Shenandoah, through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and ends at Cherokee, North Carolina. More than 200 miles of this gorgeous road runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains, at a meandering 45 mph.
Highlights along the Virginia stretch include the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests, plus a number of overlooks with incredible mountain scenery. Pick a scenic spot for a picnic, like Mabry Mill (the Parkway’s biggest attraction, located at Milepost 176), or catch some authentic Appalachian mountain music in Southwest Virginia. If you have a need for speed, you can still access the unique attractions on the Blue Ridge Parkway at various access points off the major north-south Interstate 81.
MORE: The most scenic drives in all 50 states