11 Scenic Day Drives Around the South To Take With Mama for Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day can look a lot of different ways, depending on your outlook. While the classic luncheon and flower bouquet never goes out of style, why not hit the open road for a day drive filled with good times, quality conversation, new sights, and Mama’s pimiento cheese? This year more than any other, we’re not taking the unparalleled scenery of the South for granted.
Here you’ll find some of the most scenic drives to take at least once with someone you love—hey, Mom!—whether it’s the mountainous twists and turns of the Blue Ridge Parkway that wind you from one vista view to the next or it’s the salty air and shoreline sightings along Florida’s A1A on the Atlantic Coast, easily accessible for Georgians and Floridians alike. We’ve rounded up scenic routes throughout the South in order to give every mother-daughter duo or family a doable day drive option. Even if it takes a little longer of a detour, it's worth the carpool time and conversation.
Maybe your cruise with Mama is just on the country roads outside your hometown—or perhaps you can make new memories in the mountaintops, along crystal-blue waters, deep in the Lowcountry, on plantation row in Louisiana, or flanked by wildflowers and cacti on a Texas Hill Country adventure. Here are the best day drives to take with your mother this Mother’s Day.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks, this beloved scenic drive is about the prettiest thing you’ll see all year—and from your car window, no less. If you’re in search of breathtaking Appalachian overlooks, this is the ticket. Make sure to get all the pictures to prove you did something adventurous together. Nearly 500 miles of green forested backdrop awaits, from North Carolina all the way up to Virginia. (Hint: This one is worth a return trip during peak fall color.) Here is the ultimate road trip itinerary to mix and match.
Florida’s State Road A1A
Lazily skirting along the Atlantic coastline, this feel-good cruise is all about beach views, palm trees, and passing through charming beach towns like funky Fernandina Beach (where you’ll find a ferry to Georgia’s most beautiful barrier island with wild horses, Cumberland Island), ritzy Amelia Island, and historic St. Augustine. Catch whiffs of the salty beach air along every mile. Ahhh.
Texas’ Willow City Loop
Not only can you see Hill Country gems like Fredericksburg and the surrounding vineyards from this country roadway, but you can catch some of the most beautiful wildflowers in Texas flanking each side of your ride. (Sadly, bluebonnet season has come to a close, but poppies and lavender are popping up everywhere.) Take it all the way to Enchanted Rock for a short hike with a view.
Louisiana’s River Road
If moss-draped plantations are your sightseeing game, play it nice and slow along this scenic road that runs along the Mississippi River. Take I-10 west out of the New Orleans area and mosey for about an hour to reach Destrehan Plantation, said to be the oldest plantation house in the area. Map it over to nearby Evergreen Plantation, which is the most intact plantation complex in the South with 37 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places; as well as Oak Alley Plantation, a photogenic grande dame with an alley of 300 year-old Live Oak trees.
Lowcountry Day Cruise
The city slickers will love this traipse lined with coastal gems. Start in Savannah, Georgia, for its signature lush green parks, river views, and trickling fountains. Then head two hours over to Charleston, South Carolina, to mosey down quiet roads lined with colorful houses and spring flowers. In between, there are plenty of barrier islands and beaches to catch a quick breeze and settle the soul (like Jekyll Island, Daufuskie Island, and Beaufort)—all before dinnertime back at home with your favorite gal pal.
Natchez Trace Parkway
This 444-mile scenic drive traverses across Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee, making it quite the versatile option for mother-daughter duos all over the South. It roughly follows along the Old Natchez Trace, a trade route used by Native Americans and traders back in the day, and has all the views of great Southern terrain from state to state. Grab some snacks and get to exploring.
Horse Country Route
These Kentucky rolling hills are known for fall color, but they’re nothing to scoff at when bursting in bright green in the spring and summer. Find yourselves moving anywhere within Bourbon Country: Lexington to Louisville, vice-versa. You can hit quaint small towns like Bardstown, Harrodsburg (home of the Shaker Village!), and Paris along the way. Grazing horses and prestigious farms are a dime a dozen in these parts. Make sure to stop by the Kentucky Castle in Versailles to see the stunning medieval-style structure in person.
Georgia’s Russell Brasstown Scenic Byway
Imagine having access to the rooftop of the North Georgia mountains. That’s just a taste of what you get when taking a leisurely day drive along this 38-mile stretch atop mountain country. Start or end in the quirky Bavarian-style town of Helen before strolling around Dahlonega’s charming town square or driving past the vineyards outside of town. Look out for the bright rhododendron, which are in bloom in late spring and early summer.
The Keys’ Overseas Highway
Getting yourself from mainland Florida to the 120-mile-long stretch of sunny paradies that is the Florida Keys is a landmark in its own right, especially Seven Mile Bridge that sits over the crystal-blue waters. Along the 113 miles of roadway and 42 overseas bridges, you and Mom can peep lighthouses, swaying palms, and islets. Hit it at sunset for a wondrous display of colors. Not bad for a quick day trip, hm?
The seventy-five overlooks along this 105-mile car trek through Shenandoah National Park in Virginia will give you more than enough to talk about. Catch the views on winding roads before hopping out to take pictures and embark on some light hiking here and there to fill your day with plenty of new memories. This portion of Shenandoah National Park will be reopening in the coming weeks—so this is perfect for those celebrating a belated Mother’s Day together. Keep updated here.
The Devil’s Backbone
The Devil’s Backbone is a limestone ridge running through the Texas Hill Country that can be seen from various farm roads that take Sunday cruisin’ to a whole new level. Start in the artsy town of Wimberley before heading onto other Lonestar wonders like Canyon Lake (the deepest lake in Texas) and the slightly haunted Devil’s Backbone Tavern (with stories claiming sightings of all kinds of spooks like Spanish monks, Native Americans, and Confederate soldiers). Look out for rustic terrain, including cacti, juniper, and Texas live oak.