The Blue Ridge Parkway

16 Jan

Blue Ridge Parkway

The dead of winter is probably not the best time to write this post; however, I happen to think the Blue Ridge Parkway is still beautiful even when it is so cold outside.

If you are looking for an inexpensive day-trip, this is it.  Filled with beautiful scenery, awesome history and very few tourist-traps, it’s a great way to spend a day with the family.

A designated All-American Road, the Blue Ridge Parkway stretches 469 miles through mountainous terrain from Shenandoah National Park all the way to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This is not a short cut to avoid I-81 – the speed limit is only 45 and well enforced.  This is a place to take your time and enjoy the scenery.

The Parkway incorporates several recreation areas, some exceeding 6,000 acres.  These parks within the Parkway have visitor centers, camp grounds, picnic areas, trails and, in many instances, concessionaire-operated lodges, restaurants, and other facilities. Order a FREE travel guide for the Blue Ridge Parkway by clicking here.

A few of my favorite stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway include:

Mabry Mill – A beautiful location that has been photographed and painted many times.  Restored gristmill/sawmill/woodworking shop and blacksmith shop.  Old time skills (basket weaving, seat caneing, spinning, and weaving) demonstrated.  Applebutter making on Sundays in October – Oldtime bluegrass music on Sundays 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.  Lots of fun for the kids seeing a real working Mill!  Milepost 176.1

Chateau Morrisette – Yes, I know a winery is not really what you would consider “child-friendly”; HOWEVER, the outdoor concerts are very child friendly.  The kids get to run around up and down the hills and dance while the grownups get to sip on some wonderful Virginia wine.  Milepost 171.5

Tina’s tip:  purchase a few inexpensive disposable cameras for the kids before leaving for the drive (they will be twice as expensive if you buy them on the parkway).  Stop off at lots of the “scenic view” stopping points along the parkway and let the kids snap away.  They will love seeing their pictures and putting them into their own albums.  If the weather is mild enough, pack a big picnic lunch too.  There are plenty of picnic areas and bathroom facilities along the parkway that are all clean and well-maintained.

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