If you’re wondering where Roanoke is, just head for that iconic shining star that sits high above Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The Roanoke Star is the largest free-standing star sign in the world, and it’s a hint at why this small Southern Virginia town is not to be missed. With picturesque hiking trails, historic architecture and award-winning wineries, Roanoke has won the heart of many visitors. To help you navigate through all that this town has to offer, we’ve put together a sampling of our favorite things to do in Roanoke.
Only a few miles south of Roanoke, you can find the best mountain biking on the East Coast. Carvins Cove has gained its ultimate biking reputation by having over 30 miles packed with trails and climbs that reach 1,000ft! Apart from biking, you can head to Blue Ridge Parkway which is famous for having 600 miles of hiking trails. Hikes range from simple quarter mile strolls to strenuous 10-mile treks that will give you breathtaking views of the many gorges and mountains that make Roanoke a nature lover’s paradise. Finally, don’t miss the gem of the Appalachian Trail, McAfee Knob, one of the most photographed places in the region.
Live Like a Local
Roanoke is filled with history and used to be a famous rail town. Nowadays you can take a free audio-visual walking tour that guides you on a path parallel to the train tracks, and gives you a history lesson along the way. Continuing with the historical feel of the day you can take a seat in the Regency Room at Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center and order a bowl of the town’s famous 1940 staple: Peanut soup. The recipe is the tried and true original from 1940, and when you taste it you’ll know why they haven’t changed a thing!
For a taste of experimental craft beer, join Roanoke’s Craft Beer Tour! You’ll go behind-the-scenes at local breweries, learn some Beer 101 while sampling some flights, and finish the day off with a complimentary cheeseburger at Texas Tavern. For a healthier alternative to beer tasting head over to Virginia’s oldest currently running open-air market. Opened in 1882, the Roanoke City Market is your one-stop-shop for organic produce, colorful bouquets of flowers, and locally made products that you can take home to your family.
Roanoke is the perfect place to get your culture kick with museums focused on art history, railroad photography and even pinball! The Taubman Museum of Art if one of our top choices, with contemporary art, Egyptian artifacts, and their ever popular “Mixed Bag Gallery,” which showcases 130 Judith Leiber bags and purses which have donned the arms of first ladies. At the Roanoke Pinball Museum, you can spend the day trying to break the high scores on vintage machines that date back to the 1930’s. A full day of this museum is going to give you an appetite, so don’t forget to start your morning with the Grand Sunday Brunch Buffet at Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. Named the “Best Sunday Brunch” for the last 13 years by Roanoker Magazine and winner of OpenTable’s “Top 100 Brunch Restaurants in America,” you won’t be disappointed.
Experience True Blue Ridge Hospitality
If you’re looking for a place to stay with some historic charm, it doesn’t get much better than the 1880’s Tudor-style Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center. A famous hub for railroad travelers making their way through Virginia since the 19th century, it’s no wonder this hotel was inducted into the Historic Hotels of America organization. Today the hotel has been remodeled to have the finest modern luxuries, while still retaining the captivating ambiance of its rich history.