Autumn’s natural foliage and beauty makes it one of the most remarkable seasons to visit the Mid-Atlantic region – and the perfect time for a Virginia road trip. Rich in history, rolling hills, winding rivers, lush peaks and valleys, breweries and vineyards, Virginia will leave you pleasantly surprised by all there is to savor, experience and do. With next-to-perfect temperatures ranging from 50-65 degrees, fall calls to travelers as the ideal time to get outdoors in the Commonwealth.
Start your trip in Hot Springs
Begin your journey with the breathtaking view of Falling Spring Falls, located on US Route 220, just south of Hot Springs in the aptly named Bath County, an area dotted with natural geothermal springs. See for yourself why this magnificent 80′ waterfall lures more visitors and photographers than any other spot in the Alleghany Highlands.
As you continue your trip along Sam Snead Highway, you’ll pass The Cascades, where one of the greatest golfers of all time, Sam Snead, launched his career. Grab your clubs and tee off to discover why locals and pros alike regard The Cascades as one of the finest mountain courses in the country.
Turn down for a night or two at America’s First Resort, The Omni Homestead. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you first spot the grandiose view of the iconic tower, followed by an inviting front porch – complete with rocking chairs and a remarkable mountain backdrop.
Head to Charlottesville
As you continue along your road trip on I-64, make a pit stop to hydrate at Stable Craft Brewing in Waynesboro. Initially built as a boarding facility for horses, the founding couple converted and expanded the facility to include farm life, a greenhouse and hop yards, and now offers brewery tours.
Then, get in touch with your inner adventure-seeker, and stop at Shenandoah National Park, one of the most famous parks in the Eastern United States, featuring an astounding 200,000 acres of protected land full of beautiful hikes and waterfalls.
In Charlottesville, immerse yourself in genuine southern hospitality and small-town charm. Visit Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and dive into the rich history and tradition of this UNESCO heritage site. Nearby, the University of Virginia, also a UNESCO site, boasts a gorgeous campus and unexpected artifacts, including a section of the Berlin Wall, Edgar Allan Poe’s preserved dorm room and a scenic cemetery. If wine is your drink of choice, don’t miss the birthplace of American wine on the Monticello Wine Trail. Before embarking on the tour, prepare your palate with our How to Taste Wine post.
Home to one of the longest pedestrian malls in the United States, Charlottesville offers an unparalleled experience within a thriving city center. Complete with live theater and music, restaurants and shops, the historic downtown mall offers much waiting to be discovered. For a romantic foodie night out, Fleurie is worth the splurge – but for a more casual vibe, The Whiskey Jar may tickle your fancy. Get a good night’s rest at Omni Charlottesville Hotel, just steps from the mall, before embarking on the remainder of your trip.
Next stop, Richmond
Less than an hour and a half from Charlottesville, Richmond is an easy drive East on I-64. Vibrant and eclectic, Virginia’s capital bursts with culture, shopping and plenty of outdoor fun. With more than 100 murals painting the town, you’ll quickly see why Richmond was named one of The Most Inspiring Art Scenes in America by Departures. Speaking of arts, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission and sparks the inner artist in each visitor. If you prefer flora and fauna, discover for yourself why Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is regarded as one of the top gardens in the U.S., or visit Maymont, a 100-acre estate and park where you can enjoy a relaxing stroll or watch river otters play.
While in Richmond, visit Scott’s Addition Historic District, home to more than a dozen breweries, cideries, meaderies and distilleries, including Reservoir Distillery. Take a tour of the distillery and sample their award-winning whiskey, bourbon and rye, all made with grains sourced within 50 miles of the taproom. For a tasty bite, visit Lunch.Supper! a classic southern smokehouse, located just a few blocks down Summit Ave. Once a bustling industrial area, and now Richmond’s fastest growing neighborhood, Scott’s Addition is home to nationally-recognized restaurants, rooftop bars, a boutique bowling alley, shuffleboard bar and retail shops.
Make time to explore the Canal Walk where you can buy fresh produce at one of America’s oldest public markets, visit historic monuments and explore trails and parks such as the Blue Heron Rookery, an island nesting habitat. For dinner, head to the stylish Shockoe Slip neighborhood, packed with Southern-style restaurants, BBQ joints and gastropubs, like The Tobacco Company Restaurant. The building, which was constructed in 1866 as a tobacco warehouse, still features original brickwork, heavy beams and columns. End your day with a stroll on the James River Park Pipeline Walkway, a pedestrian path suspended just above the water, before resting for the evening at Omni Richmond Hotel.
Conclude your trip in Williamsburg
As you depart the Omni Richmond Hotel, hit the Starbucks in the lobby for coffee before you hit the road. Drive east on I-64 for about an hour to colonial Williamsburg, as no Virginia road trip is complete without a stop at this historic site. Start your day strolling the streets of Merchants Square, filled with boutiques, charming cafes and restaurants. Travel back in time with a feast at one of many historic taverns throughout town. Chowning’s offers garden seating for an alfresco experience. Thrill-seekers can get their hearts racing at nearby Busch Gardens, providing big thrills for all ages. For a quaint place to rest your head, The Fife & Drum Inn offers a cozy place to recharge and unwind from your fun-filled day.
Brilliant foliage, breathtaking natural landscape and enviable temperatures make fall one of the most enjoyable seasons for a Virginia road trip. Uncover history and taste the region to discover what makes this commonwealth so delightfully uncommon.