Fall foliage along Blue Ridge Parkway

Photograph by Bill Russ/Visitnc.com
Photograph by Bill Russ/Visitnc.com

Mid to late October
200 miles from Atlanta

What it is: This 469-mile scenic highway, a New Deal project to provide Depression-era jobs, connects the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Top speed: 45. blueridgeparkway.org

What’s to love: No stoplights, a roadway that treads lightly on the earth, the jaw-dropping Linn Cove Viaduct along Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.

Insider tip: Gas, hotels, and food are scarce. Plan for detours.

Why I go: “Typically when we’re in the car, it’s about the place we’re getting to. But being on the parkway is the destination. The vibe shifts. You look to either side and around every corner, and you think, ‘No, this is the most beautiful vista we’ve seen all day. No, this is the one.’”—Dave Whitling, creative director for online magazine The Bitter Southerner, where he recently chronicled his Parkway bike trip

Where to stay: Pisgah Inn. Located at one of the parkway’s highest peaks near Asheville, this sixties-era motel is the only lodging on the southern end of the parkway.

Where to eat: Picnic at an overlook, or drive into Asheville. Try hipster gastropub the Admiral.

What not to miss: Visit the Folk Art Center, Milepost 382, home of the Southern Highland Craft Guild.