America's Most Scenic Roads
Andre Jenny / Alamy
Blue Ridge Parkway, Carolinas and Virginia
The nearly 500 miles of blacktop twisting through the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah national parks was built for travelers seeking Appalachian overlooks. It’s a panoramic drive for all seasons, with undulating slopes of color in autumn, a bounty of forest canopy in summer, and hot-cider ski resorts in winter. The parkway has become a paradise for birders: with 59 resident species, it boasts more diversity than the entire continent of Europe.
Stop: In the mines of the mineral-rich Appalachian Mountains, visitors can pan for emeralds, amethyst, rubies, topaz, and even gold. (emeraldvillage.com; from $10.)