There’s something magical about a sightseeing drive. Maybe it’s the feeling of freedom that comes from allowing the road to take us where it wants, or the excitement of discovering someplace new.
There are so many sites of stunning natural beauty and historic significance in the U.S. that can be appreciated from the comfort of your car. We’ve chosen four of our favorite scenic byways that never fail to impress, and are conveniently located near popular Bluegreen resorts, too.
Skyline Drive | Less than an hour from Shenandoah Crossing™, Gordonsville, VA
Skyline Drive loops 105 miles north and south along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains, right through the heart of the scenic Shenandoah National Park in southwestern Virginia. This unique, National Scenic Byway intersects the famed Appalachian Trail as it takes a winding path along the mountaintops, and provides stunning views of the surrounding Shenandoah Valley from 75 overlooks along the way.
Skyline Drive was initiated in 1931 as a Depression-era WPA project, and took 9 years to complete as the road was carved through challenging mountain terrain. It offers spectacular mountain vistas all year long, but is particularly exceptional in mid- to late October, when fall foliage explodes in an artist’s palette of gold, ochre and crimson.
Tip: Bikers, horseback riders, hikers and wildlife including black bear and white tail deer sometimes share the curvy route, which is why the speed limit is 35 mph. So if you decide to travel the entire 105-mile loop, it could take from 6 to 8 hours. But you can enter and exit at four places along the route, to make your drive as long or short as you like.
Take US 33 West from Gordonsville to the Skyline Drive Exit at Swift Run Gap.
For more information, call Shenandoah National Park at 540.999.3500
Kancamangus Scenic Byway | Minutes from South Mountain Resort, Lincoln, NH
“The Kanc,” as locals call it, is a spectacular 34.5 scenic drive that hugs the edge of the pristine Swift River as it cuts through the spectacular White Mountain National Forest and leads you past vintage logging roads, scenic overlooks, historic homesteads and authentic-Indian hunting trails. Wildlife sightings are abundant here, and it’s not unusual to spot deer or moose along the side of the road or near marshy areas.
Also known as Route 112, the route offers breathtaking views of Sabbaday Falls, Lower Falls and Rocky Gorge. It reaches its highest point at Kancamangus Pass, near Lincoln. It’s also one of the top routes in the country to view fall foliage, and attracts visitors from across the country to witness autumn’s splendor.
Tip: Take a quick side trip up U.S. 93 from Lincoln north to Franconia Notch State Park and marvel at the incredible Flume Gorge—at 800 feet long and 90 feet tall, it’s not to be missed!
Pick up the Kancamangus Scenic Byway (Rte. 112) in Lincoln and follow it north and east through the White Mountain National Forest.
For more information, call White Mountains Visitor Center at 1.800.346.3687
Newfound Gap Road | 45 minutes from Laurel Crest™, Pigeon Forge, TN
35 minutes from MountainLoft,™ Gatlinburg, TN
Running parallel to the west fork of the Little Pigeon River, this 33-mile stretch of scenic byway connects Gatlinburg, Tennessee to Cherokee, North Carolina through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) begins at Gatlinburg and continues into the Park, past numerous inviting picnic areas and overlooks that offer amazing vistas of the park and Mt. Leconte to the northeast, the park’s third-highest peak at 6,593 feet. The Newfound Gap itself is at about the halfway point, and is the perfect place to stop and take in sweeping views of both the Tennessee and North Carolina sides of the ridge.
During the spring and summer months, many visitors stop along the way to wade or splash in the Little Pigeon River’s inviting, crystal-clear waters. Quiet walkways, unforgettable mountain vistas and a diverse range of trees, flowers, and wildlife await your discovery along this meandering route that reaches its high point at just over 5,000 feet.
Tip: If you’re feeling adventurous, park and hike half a mile to climb the 45-foot observation tower at Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the Park and in Tennessee–the views are worth it!
From Pigeon Forge:
Take U.S. 321/441 South from Pigeon Forge, and travel 23 miles, passing Gatlinburg en route to Newfound Gap.
Pick up U.S. 441 South in Gatlinburg, and arrive at Newfound Gap in 16.5 miles.
For more information, call Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 865.436.1200
The Old King’s Highway | 15 minutes from The Sounding Seaside Resort, Dennis Port, MA
Running along the northern coast of Cape Cod’s curved arm for almost 62 miles, The Old King’s Highway (or Route 6A) winds its way through some of the oldest established settlements in North America. All along the tree-shaded route, charming villages and seaside towns including Sandwich, Barnstable, Dennis, Brewster, Wellfleet and Provincetown invite visitors to stop and explore well-preserved homes and churches dating from the 17th century and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Originally a Native American trail, Route 6A became the primary east-west path for early settlers and farmers. It became an extension of the Plymouth Colony’s “King’s Highway.” In modern times, The King’s Highway offers a quieter alternative to the bustling Route 28, which cuts through the southern side of the Cape. Be sure to stop along the way to enjoy hidden stretches of beach, quaint little shops, great antiquing, amazing seafood and beautiful vistas of Cape Cod Bay.
Tip: If you’re planning a summer visit to the Cape, consider planning a sightseeing drive along The King’s Highway/6A during the week, as weekends can get a bit crowded with beachgoers heading toward the Upper Cape.
From Dennis Port:
Take Upper County Road to East-West Dennis Road/134, then pick up King’s Highway/6A in South Dennis.
For more information, call the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce at 508.362.3225
Many of the above destinations are part of our seven-day Explorer offer. Take a whole week off and explore in and around your resort until you’ve road tripped your heart out. Exploration is where it’s at.
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