Growing up in the seventies, my mom used to make references to people driving slow as “Sunday drivers”. It meant they were meandering and just looking at the scenery, but I never gave much thought to why that would be a thing.

Many decades later, when we were living in Virginia, my husband and I piled our kids into the car to check out Skyline Drive, a famous Virginia motorway. We thought we might find nice camping and hiking spots along the way, and while this is possible, it was clear that the road was not really designed for that. Skyline drive was, in fact, designed for people to simply drive along with periodic stops at scenic overlooks and enjoy the scenery. Our kids thought this was insane, and truth be told it seemed a little nutty to me, but then came social distancing a la 2020.

The History

When people first started to own cars, rather than simply have them as necessary means to get from point A to point B, they were a source of enjoyment on their own. “Sunday drivers” as my mom referred to them were people who would get in their cars and drive around the countryside simply enjoying the scenery.

This pastime led to the construction across America of many different scenic motorways. In Virginia, in addition to Skyline Drive there is the Blue Ridge Parkway. Acadia National Park in Maine is also home to some beautiful drives. And while I have never driven it, I’ve heard many a tale about the beautiful coastal highway in California.

The Perfect Family Activity for 2020

As we are all getting restless in our homes, it occurred to me that it may be time for the scenic drive to make a comeback. It turns out that roads like Skyline Drive, which cut through national parks are mostly closed right now (although the may be opening soon, so check their websites), but often if you look at a map, there are plenty of small country roads around these parks that also provide beautiful scenery and a way to get out of the house without coming into close contact with others.

Getting Kids’ Onboard

In my experience, younger kids will often enjoy the experience of driving through beautiful country if you just point out interesting features and make up games of things to spot along the way. If your children are over, however, they may be a little more cynical about the whole thing. I bet they will change your mind if you let them drive. After all, your 15 and 16-year-olds need more hours and experience to get their license, and even if they have a relatively new license, you will be surprised how much they enjoy being behind the wheel. This is a real bonus for parents, who can sit back and just enjoy the view for a change.

If you google scenic drives in your state, you will be surprised how many options there are across the country, so get out there and become a Sunday driver.

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About Laura Keyes Ellsworth

Laura has been writing and editing for more than 25 years, a fact which more than a source of pride, sends her running to the wrinkle cream aisle of CVS. She has worked for CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, The Economist Intelligence Unit, and CBS radio. She has three children, and you will either find her thoroughly enjoying their company or yelling at them to clean up after themselves and turn off the lights.

View all posts by Laura Keyes Ellsworth

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