In just a few weeks, Virginia’s fall foliage will hit its peak, making it the perfect time to visit a local lookout to take in all the beautiful colors. Whether you’re driving through the mountains or walking alongside a riverfront vista, we have the perfect fall outlooks for you.
Huntley Meadows is a natural oasis nestled amongst the urban setting of Alexandria. There you can wander through the changing leaves in a variety of natural sceneries, including sprawling forests, lush meadows, and thick grasslands. If you visit around dawn or dusk, you might even catch sight of a beaver or heron. But the highlight of the park is the half-mile boardwalk that runs through wetlands and leads to an observation tower. Admire the colorful foliage along the boardwalk, but get your best outlook from the top of the tower. 3701 Lockheed Blvd., Alexandria
Rather view the leaves from the comfort of your car? There’s no better place than the GW Parkway, specifically designed for recreational driving. What makes this outlook spot unique is the combination of city and nature views: observe the changing colors in the trees alongside the road, across the Potomac River, and against the DC skyline. Stop at one of several outlooks, but note they are only accessible heading north. Jump on at any point or drive the whole parkway from Mount Vernon to Turkey Run Park. Mount Vernon (most southern starting point): 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mt. Vernon
Easily escape the urban setting and head to Scott’s Run for a nearby nature experience. Take in all the fall splendor by hiking one of several trails that wander through a forest filled with wildlife, ancient hemlocks, and rare plants. Head for the Stubblefield Falls Overlook to view the colorful trees alongside the Potomac River or travel the Potomac Heritage Trail to see the small but beautiful Scott’s Run Waterfall. 7400 Georgetown Pike, McLean
If you’re looking for an autumn-filled day trip, head out to Sky Meadows. Enjoy the changing foliage in an 1,860-acre park that boasts scenic views of thick forests and rolling pastures draped across the hills of the Piedmont region. For the best fall outlook in the park, take the Piedmont Overlook trail, though, many trails of varying difficulty are offered. On your way out, take the kids to the park’s Fall Farm Days, running throughout October. Or stop by one of several wineries located nearby. 11012 Edmonds Ln., Delaplane
One of the best things about fall in Shenandoah National Park is all the different ways you can enjoy the changing leaves. Enter the park from the Front Royal entrance and enjoy a leisurely drive along the scenic Skyline Drive. Several overlooks line the road, but two excellent options not far from the Front Royal Entrance are Range View Overlook and Hogback Overlook. If you’d rather take your autumn views in via hiking, Stony Man makes a great day trip. A short but steep trail will take you to the Little Stony Man Overlook, while a longer and more leisurely hike will lead you to Stony Man summit. Front Royal (North Entrance): 21073 Skyline Dr., Front Royal; Stony Man Trailhead: mile marker 41.7 on Skyline Dr., Luray
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