Originally called Big Lick, the city of Roanoke, Virginia was established in 1852 along the namesake river. In the 1850s, it came to prominence for its strategic location on the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad. It remains an important stop to this day, still on the Amtrak route. Cotton mills also were a big part of the economy.
Today, Roanoke attracts students to nearby colleges, including Roanoke College and Hollins University. The many hikes and outdoor recreation experiences are another draw. But don’t miss the charming shops downtown. It’s also conveniently located near the airport and other Southwest Virginia towns.
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What to Do in Roanoke
Black Dog Salvage– The massive salvage and home decor store appeared on the popular series Salvage Dawgs. You never know what you might find there. 902 13th Street SW
The Mill Mountain Star– The landmark of the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains has some of the best views around, not far from the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was originally built in 1949 and is lit up throughout the year. 2000 J.B. Fishburn Parkway
Roanoke Pinball Museum– Located inside the Center in the Square, this isn’t as much a museum as an interactive arcade with rare and vintage all-you-can-play pinball machines. 1 Market Square SE
Taubman Museum of Art– The art museum was designed by architect Randall Stout. It contains a permanent collection made up of works by artists like John Singer Sargent and John Cage. 110 Salem Avenue Southeast
Virginia Museum of Transportation– Set inside a former depot, the sprawling museum covers all elements of transportation, including historic rail cars, vintage automobiles, and even a private plane you can sit inside. 303 Norfolk Avenue SW
Where to Eat in Roanoke
Bread Craft– The downtown brewery creates fresh bread and pastries daily as well as egg dishes and sandwiches. 24 Church Avenue SW, (540) 562-4112
bloom restaurant & wine bar– Share the delightful small plates, including potatoes aioli, beef skewers, and celery root bisque, which can be paired with wine. 1109 Main Street SW, (540) 566-3891
Fortunato– For elevated Italian dishes, like Neapolitan-style pizzas and pasta, head to this quiet downtown spot. They also have an extensive wine list and craft cocktails. 301 1st Street SW, (540) 400 7315
Scratch Biscuit Company– The Grandin Village is bustling on a Saturday, so go early to grab a table. The thick biscuits come with your choice of topping like sausage and fried chicken. 1820 Memorial Avenue SW, (540) 855-0882
Texas Tavern– Family owned since 1930, this 24-hour diner is known for its burgers, chili, and breakfast. The menu is small but efficient. 114 Church Avenue Southwest, (540) 342-4825
Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen & Brewery– Don’t let the name fool you. This regional brewery and restaurant has incredible food! I loved the fried chicken salad. 24 Campbell Avenue SE, (540) 492-5005
Tuco’s Taqueria Garaje– Grab an order of tacos and nachos before visiting the neighboring breweries. The bar also has an extensive tequila and mezcal selection. 416 Salem Ave SW, (540) 682-8636
Where to Stay in Roanoke
Black Lantern Inn– The cozy bed and breakfast in a historic home has free WiFi, free bikes to borrow, and a terrace to enjoy your meals.1526 Franklin Road SW
Hampton Inn & Suites – Roanoke-Downtown– The amenities are what you might expect from other properties from the brand like daily breakfast, but the hotel is centrally located in the heart of downtown. 27 Church Avenue Southeast
Hotel Roanoke (review here)- Built in an 1882 Tudor building, the hotel has over 300 guest rooms. The hotel also has eco-friendly details like electric vehicle charging as well as a spa, restaurant, and a coffee shop. 110 Shenandoah Avenue Northwest
The Liberty Trust– Set in a former bank building, the boutique hotel has stylish rooms, free WiFi, and historic touches like the original vault. 101 South Jefferson Street
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