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Taking the Scenic Route

Posted Jul 31 2012 8:21am

See that gorgeousness pictured above?  It’s the Buena Vista Overlook, a little stop on the side of the Blue Ridge Parkway, very near my parent’s house in Virginia. If you take the nearest highway to go through the Blue Ridge Mountains, you’ll blow right by it. You’ll miss this and so much more.  But if you exit the highway, and take the gorgeous parkway instead, you’ll see beautiful overlooks and majestic views like this mile after mile.  There are safe places to stop, take photos, and picnic.  One of our favorite picnic spots off the Blue Ridge parkway is Otter Creek, where my kids look forward to playing and picnicking every summer:

Also along this “Scenic Route” (one of my mom’s favorite expressions) is a true wonder, an amazing rock formation known as “Indian Rocks” .  You’ll find it at the “Indian Gap” stop off the parkway.   This giant formation is truly beyond description, and also very hard to capture in a photo.  We go see it every year because sometimes you find yourself questioning if it’s really REAL or not, and you have to be reminded with a return visit.

Before you get up the mountain to the Blue Ridge Parkway, if you exit the highway even earlier, you will come about the picturesque historical town of Lexington, Virginia, home of the Virginia Military Institute, Washington & Lee University, and the Stonewall Jackson House.  It’s a lot of fun to walk around and shop in Lexington.  But one of our favorite places in the city is a little further out – an amazing park called Boxerwood that has a separate children’s park.  Our kids beg to go back every year, and we’ve been a couple of times with Emily’s kids, too.

The point is, there is much to be seen in our country on a road trip.  And if you’re like me, those are the only kinds of trips you take as a family.  So, once in awhile instead of blowing by America at 70 MPH, it’s nice to exit the highway and experience a slice of nature off the beaten path!  To this end, Toyota and the National Audobon Society have started an “Exit the Highway” initiative aimed at helping us discover “those hidden natural gems just beyond the turnpike”.

Visit the Exit the Highway website and you can take a pledge to Exit the Highway, take the scenic route by downloading one of dozens of itineraries available to help you find some great places to explore, or even upload photos of your Exit the Highway adventures to their site, or via Twitter and Instagram using the #exitthehighway hashtag!

And for pledging to exit the highway and uploading photos, you can multiple entries to win a Prius V from Toyota!  Now that’s something I’d like to take the scenic route in!   Visit the Exit the Highway website to learn more.

What are some of your favorite stops when you are taking the scenic route?

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Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota.

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