What better way to enjoy gorgeous fall weather and foliage than by taking a scenic country drive? And there are plenty of fantastic drives to enjoy in the Northern Virginia region, especially Loudoun County. The area has still managed to retain its pastoral lifestyle and charm, despite being one of the fastest-growing counties in the country! When you have a free day this season go on one of these backroads adventures to enjoy the crisp air and autumnal views…
Great Falls and Georgetown Pike
26 miles, 1 hr.
This scenic drive around Great Falls starts and ends at the town green, right near the Great Falls Library. Head northwest on Georgetown Pike (VA-193 W), make a pitstop just past Windermere Park at Krop’s Crops (11110 Georgetown Pike) to pick up some pumpkins! This small farm also has an antiques and collectibles store, and in the fall pay just $5 per person to get a hayride, apples and fresh apple cider, and a small pumpkin for each guest.
Then continue west on Georgetown Pike until you make a right onto Seneca Rd. (602). If you’re looking for a hike along the Potomac you can continue on this road right up to Seneca Regional Park, however if you want to keep driving make a right turn when you get to Beach Mill Rd. (603). This twisting road winds its way right past the acclaimed L’Auberge Chez Francois (332 Springvale Rd.), named one of the top 100 most romantic restaurants in America by OpenTable! Stop in for a meal or happy hour before continuing your journey.
When you’re finished continue your drive along Beach Mill Rd., turn right on River Bend Rd., and continue until making a sharp left onto Jeffrey Rd. From there make your way into Riverbend Park to enjoy an easy hike along the Potomac. Or if you’d rather wait to get your exercise in continue along River Bend Road until you get back to Georgetown Pike, make a left and drive until you’re able to turn left on Balls Hill Rd. and then another left on Live Oak Drive. From there find some peace and quiet walking the trails at Scotts’ Run Nature Preserve.
Once you’re finished backtrack the way you came, taking a right onto Georgetown Pike and then, for the scenic route, a left onto Swinks Mill Road. Follow that with a right turn onto Old Dominion Dr. and then a left when you come back out onto Georgetown Pike. When you get back to the Great Falls Village Center you can end your trip with dinner at one of the nearby restaurants (like El Tio Tex-Mex Grill or Bollywood Bistro), ice cream at Great Falls Creamery, or a hot drink at Katie’s Coffee House.
George Washington Memorial Pkwy to Mount Vernon
16 miles, 30 minutes
Start at Turkey Run Park and end up at George Washington’s Mount Vernon for a scenic drive along the Potomac River. Along the way you’ll be able to see great views of Washington D.C. and make pit stops at historic monuments and parks.
If you’re a fan of hiking hit the trails in Turkey Run Park before starting your drive. Then head south along the George Washington Memorial Parkway—a road designed for recreational driving and designated as a national park! When you get into Arlington (just past the Francis Scott Key Bridge) hop off of the road and grab a bite to eat nearby. Or better yet, take your food to go and bring a picnic to Theodore Roosevelt Island to explore and walk some trails! Before getting back on the road visit Arlington National Cemetery. See the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Women in Military Service for America Memorial, the Medgar Evers Gravesite, and more within the cemetery.
Once you’re done in Arlington hop back onto the George Washington Memorial Parkway and continue south. The GWMP turns into N. Washington St. in Alexandria, and if you’re looking to take your time with this drive Old Town Alexandria is certainly worth exploring! Turn left on Prince Street to make your way towards Waterfront Park and the Torpedo Factory Arts Center. From there walk the cobblestoned streets of downtown, visit one of the many museums, windowshop the unique boutiques, or find a cafe to grab a bite!
Get back onto N. Washington St. afterwards and continue south, it will turn back into George Washington Memorial Pkwy. Eventually you will end up at our first president’s home itself, where you can spend the rest of your day touring the home and grounds, hiking around Dyke Marsh and the Mount Vernon Trail, or dining at the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant.
Old Waterford Road to Hillsboro
30.1 miles, 1 hr & 18 min.
41.4 miles, 1 hr & 36 min.
Start your adventure off the right way by grabbing a cup to go from one of the many coffee shops in historic downtown Leesburg. Then start your drive on Old Waterford Rd. NW just off of Cornwall St. NW and North St. NW. You will pass the Rust Library and Ida Lee Park on your right as you continue towards Morven Park. Get sidetracked in Morven Park if you’d like to explore the 18th-century mansion and gardens, museums on-site, or walking trails. If not, continue along Old Waterford Road until you reach the historic village of Waterford.
If you find yourself getting thirsty take a break at Village Winery or Terra Nebulo Vineyards in Waterford. You’ll also pass two very historic cemeteries, the Union of Churches cemetery (off Fairfax Street) and old Quaker Cemetery (off Loyalty Rd.) if you’d like to take a walk around some antique gravesites and pay your respects. Make a left on Loyalty Rd., which turns into Water St., which turns into Main St. to pass through town. Directly after the old Waterford Mill Building make a right turn onto Clover Hill Road. Continue along this road and then make a left onto Loyalty Rd. to continue with the truly bucolic views. Turn left onto Taylorstown Rd., cross Catoctin Creek, and then make another quick left onto Downey Mill Road. Downey Mill follows the creek for a bit, and then veers off further into farm country!
Head left on Lovettsville Rd. to go into town and get a bite to eat or something to sip. Once you’ve had your break head out of town via W Broad Way to explore the Georges Mill area. W Broad Way turns into Irish Corner Rd., which will take you past Dutchman Creek, then turn right off onto Georges Mill Road. You will pass the Georges Mill Farm Bed & Breakfast and on your left find a turn-off for the small, red Georges Mill Farm Store. It’s stocked by the Georges Mill Artisanal Cheese Farm and other local small-time family farmers, and you can buy products by leaving money on the honor system. Say hi to the friendly goats right next door too!
There are tons of unpaved roads out this way you can explore! Once you’re ready to get back on track though, head back to Irish Corner Rd. and make a right. This will turn into Mountain Road, turn off on Axline Road in order to get to Hiddencroft Vineyards or continue straight to get to Doukenie Winery. When you come to the end of Mountain Rd. turn right into the town of Hillsboro. This historic village is the end of your trip! Go straight on Charles Town Pike to finish off the day with gorgeous sunset views at Hillsborough Vineyards, turn right on Hillsboro Road to head towards Purcellville, or make a left onto Charles Town Pike to head back towards Leesburg.
Leesburg and Northeast Loudoun
30.5 miles, 1 hr & 52 mins.
Start this trip at Red Rock Wilderness Overlook Regional Park taking in the views over the Potomac. When you’ve had your fill of fresh air and foliage head west on Edwards Ferry Road towards Route 15. You can take Battlefield Parkway or the Leesburg Bypass for a shortcut, or go further along into downtown historic Leesburg to grab a coffee before heading north along 15. Make a right turn onto White’s Ferry Road to take a scenic ferry ride (in your car!) across the Potomac River, grab a bite with a view at the White’s Ferry Store and Picnic Grounds, and then head back and continue along 15 North.
Veer left on Limestone School Rd. and soon you’ll see Temple Hall Farm Regional Park, in the fall this farm and park hosts a huge fall festival—with the largest corn maze in the region! Stop in for hayrides, pumpkins, and more fun!
When you’re finished continue on Limestone School Rd. because next you’re going to be driving by a whole bunch of wineries and breweries. This is the perfect scenic drive for when you have a designated driver! First you’ll go by Fabbioli Cellars on your left, next will be Winery 32 on your right, then make a right turn onto Spinks Ferry Rd. From this road make another right if you’d like to visit Barnhouse Brewery (43271 Spinks Ferry Rd.) or The Harvest House at Lost Creek Winery (43277 Spinks Ferry Rd.). After this, backtrack back to the main branch of Spinks Ferry Road and make a right, you’ll be passing Hidden Brook Winery immediately on your right. Continue along until making a left turn onto Lost Corner Road, make a right turn onto Tarara Ln. if you’d like to visit Tarara Winery.
Continue along Lost Corner Road and it will make a slight left turn and turn into Lucketts Road. This will take you straight into the historic town of Lucketts, where you can stop at the destination antique shop, the Old Lucketts Store. After gift shopping travel south on James Monroe Highway—keep an eye out for farms, farmers’ markets, dining, and more gift shop options along the way! You’ll end up right back where you started your journey, in downtown Leesburg.