The 25-mile Virginia portion of the highway honors its namesake with recreation areas and memorials all the way south to his old estate at Mount Vernon. It’s lined with remnants of George Washington’s life and works, such as his old Patowmack Company canal (in Great Falls National Park) and parks that were once part of his farmlands (Riverside Park, Fort Hunt Park). The 18.5-mile-long Mount Vernon Trail parallels the parkway.

The road is a pleasant alternative to the traffic-choked highway arteries further away from the river, but you need to pull off to really appreciate the sites.