The South's Best Scenic Drives 2022

Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Photo: Peter Frank Edwards

Pack the car and set out on an unforgettable adventure. The South's best scenic drives invite travelers to experience the landscape up close as they wind through cities and tiny towns, beaches and mountains, rolling countryside and deep forests. Some of these drives are short, others are much longer, but no matter the length of your getaway, don't forget to allow some time for side trips. Small towns, state parks, hiking trails, and historic markers await travelers willing to make a stop and set out on a rambling route to somewhere new. Keep the camera handy, because panoramic vistas, fields of wildflowers, and sandy beach scenes are just some of the sights to look for and marvel at as you navigate these scenic drives across the South. Once you've begun the drive, you'll know that on these memorable Southern routes, the journey truly is the destination.

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10. Bayou Teche Scenic Byway (LA)

Bayou Teche Scenic Byway
Louisiana Office of Tourism

This Louisiana byway reaches through three of the state's southern parishes—St. Martin, Iberia, and St. Mary—as it winds through Bayou Teche and the Atchafalaya Basin from Morgan City to Arnaudville. Travelers can make stops along the byway's 183 miles to explore inviting small towns, go kayaking in Breaux Bridge, and enjoy authentic local Cajun food in the destinations along the route.

Plan your trip.

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9. Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway (AR)

Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway, Highway 21, Arkansas
Arkansas Tourism

A drive along the Ozark Highlands Scenic Byway takes you from Clarksville, Arkansas, and the deep forests of the Ozarks' Boston Mountain range to the Buffalo National River. The road passes several popular hiking trails—including the 165-mile Ozark Highlands Trail—as well as streams and rivers that are popular for fishing. It's a perfect drive for those looking for vibrant fall foliage unfolding across unspoiled landscapes.

Plan your trip.

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8. Overseas Highway (FL)

Terra's Key Road
Blacktip Aerial

You don't get much closer to the water than a drive on Florida's Overseas Highway. The 113-mile highway extends U.S. Route 1 (US 1) through the Florida Keys from mainland Florida to Key West at its southernmost reach. Large sections of it run alongside the historic Overseas Railroad route, which brought visitors to the Keys between 1912 and 1935. On your drive, look to either side, and you'll see the ocean stretching out into the blue horizon.

Plan your trip.

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7. Bluebonnet Trail (TX)

Bluebonnet Trail, Texas
Neal Wilkerson

Head to the Texas Hill Country to see the flowers in bloom. Ennis, Texas, has been designated the "Official Bluebonnet City of Texas" and, as such, it is home to the state's official bluebonnet trail. Throughout the month of April, visitors flock to Ennis to drive the town's 40 miles of mapped trails and marvel at the bluebonnets in blossom.

Plan your trip.

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6. Outer Banks Scenic Byway (NC)

Outer Banks National Scenic Byway, Down East, North Carolina
Getty Images

This North Carolina drive meanders along the Outer Banks, North Carolina's string of beaches and barrier islands, passing through 21 coastal villages as it stretches from Nags Head to Beaufort with the Atlantic on one side and Pamlico Sound to the other. The route also includes two ferry rides, one between Hatteras and Ocracoke and the other between Ocracoke and Down Easts Cedar islands.

Plan your trip.

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5. Natchez Trace Parkway (MS/AL/TN)

Natchez Trace Parkway in Franklin, Tennessee 08
Matthew Maxey (Visit Franklin)

This road runs 444 miles through Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee. The historic thoroughfare follows an ancient travel corridor used in centuries past. (You can learn about its deep history here.) Nowadays, it's a gateway to ideal spots for hiking and camping, as well as biking, fishing, and horseback riding.

Plan your trip.

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4. Skyline Drive (VA)

Skyline Scenic Byway
Robbie Caponetto

For a dreamy drive, look no further than this Virginia road. Skyline Drive extends for 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park, following the crests of Blue Ridge peaks as it goes. That means vistas galore with views over the rolling Virginia landscape. It's also a lovely place to watch the seasons change; visit in autumn to see the leaves turn.

Plan your trip.

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3. Florida A1A (FL)

Florida, Hutchinson Island, Jensen Beach, high rise buildings, modular home community, State Road A1A
Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

If sunny skies are what you're after, there's no better roadway than Florida's A1A. The route stretches the length of Florida's Atlantic coast, from Key West through Miami and all the way north to Fernandina Beach. Stop in the Sunshine State's laid-back beach towns as you drive, and you'll soon have your fill of beach breezes and the charms of life on the coast.

Plan your trip.

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2. Lookout Mountain Parkway (AL/GA/TN)

Fall Foliage on Lookout Mountain Scenic Parkway
John Dersham

Easily accessible from several states and a great day trip, the route along Lookout Mountain Parkway runs from Gadsden, Alabama, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and passes through Georgia in the process. It's 93 miles long, and travelers are invited to stop for the nearby attractions—including waterfalls, canyons, and national parks—along the way. Keep your eyes peeled for scenic vistas as you make your way along the route.

Plan your trip.

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1. Blue Ridge Parkway (NC/VA)

Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Peter Frank Edwards

It's no surprise that the Blue Ridge Parkway topped this year's list of the South's best scenic drives. The state-spanning route winds through western North Carolina and Virginia, passing dramatic overlooks, forested vistas, and winsome mountain towns along the way as it curves north towards Shenandoah National Park. Along this mountain road, you'll find that the pleasure is the drive itself.

Plan your trip.

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