As the colors of fall roll eastward across Virginia, ride the wave all the way to the shore for beauty and signature Coastal Virginia flavors. It is oyster season, after all!
— COLONIAL PARKWAY —
Connecting the major sites in America’s Historic Triangle is Colonial Parkway, a 23-mile byway lined with incredible seasonal color. Created by the National Park Service over the course of 26 years, the Parkway is surfaced differently than modern thoroughfares and includes “historic brown” and brick bridges and tunnels the NPS is known for. The maximum speed limit is 45 miles per hour allowing casual motorists to have the opportunity to take in the beauty at a leisurely pace.
Colonial Parkway is part of Colonial National Historical Park, 10,221 acres of connected historical storytelling between Historic Jamestowne, Yorktown Battlefield (both NPS managed), and Colonial Williamsburg.
— ROUTE 5 —
This scenic route connects the Historic Triangle to Richmond and is mirrored by the Virginia Capital Trail, a paved trail for walkers, joggers, and bicyclists. Along and just off of Route 5 are historic plantation homes and the James River. In fact, the first Thanksgiving occurred in 1619 along the shores at what became Berkeley Plantation, a 1726 Georgian mansion and the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States.
Another plantation, Shirley, is the oldest continually operating family-owned business and farm in America. You’ll want to visit this gem in every season, but definitely in fall when the leaves decorate the lawn and reflect beautifully off of the surface of the James.
Entrance to Shirley Plantation
— ROUTE 10 —
A short but beautiful route to enjoy this fall is Route 10 from Hopewell to Smithfield (or vice versa). Along the way you may want to check out Chippokes Plantation State Park or the only surviving example of Jacobean architecture in the United States, Bacon’s Castle. Don’t forget to enjoy some Virginia ham along the way in Surry.
TIP: Make this trip a loop by connecting Route 10 to Route 5 (above) with the connector of Route 156 and the Benjamin Harrison Bridge to the west and the Jamestown Ferry to the east.
Fall in Smithfield. Photo by Tammy L. Hill.
— ROUTE 13 —
The beaten path from north to south on the Eastern Shore is Route 13, with several towns and hamlets just off of it to the east and west. Keep an eye to the sky as this is migration season and the Shore is a major stopover for fowl of all kinds. For the best glimpse, spend a little time at the Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge. The visitor center is just beyond the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel at the southern tip of the Shore.
At the northern end of the Shore is Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. This is the place to go if you want to see the famous wild ponies. Charter a ride with a guide to see them from the water. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Which coastal route is your favorite to enjoy the amazement of fall? Leave a comment to share your experiences.