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Roanoke, VA. An AWESOME City To Visit And ENJOY!! The Famous Blue Ridge Parkway Is Right Nearby Too!

Updated on May 31, 2014


I live near Roanoke, VA and it's within a 30 mile drive and I visit often. It is my favorite town by far and I have travelled and been in 32 States and visited many cities. They call this a "City" but I just call it a great large friendly town. Roanoke has an area of 42.9 square miles and the 2010 census recorded a population of 97,032.

There are hundreds of things to see and do in town and if you go outside of town you are right near the famous Blue Ridge Parkway to travel further through these awesome famous Blue Ridge mountains.

You have; Museums, Roanoke Civic Center Events, the Farmer's Market in Center Square of town, theaters, historic sites, and excellent restaurants offering all types of cuisine, a Transportation Museum of antique cars and railroad locomotives and railroad cars and all are by the famous Roanoke railroad yards. If you are a railroad and antiques car buff you will be in your glory here.

Within the city borders is the famous Mill Mountain Star that is lighted up every night and can be seen from at least 60 miles away on a clear night. Roanoke is known worldwide as The Star City. On that same mountain is the fantastic Mill Mountain Zoo and on the grounds you can settle down with your picnic lunches and gaze at awesome views of the city below. It's impressive at night as the city comes to life with it's lighting up for the evening and being surrounded by the mountains.

Before Roanoke was so named, it was established in 1852, chartered in 1874 and called Big Lick after a large outcropping of salt which drew the wildlife to the site near the Roanoke River. In 1882 it became the town of Roanoke, and in 1884 it was chartered as the independent city of Roanoke which supposedly comes from and Algonquin word for shell "money". As a result of its location it became the transportation hub of western Virginia. It gained fame as a railroad town and for it's locomotive works which are still in operation by the huge railroad yard. It gained fame too for the manufacture of fine steam locomotives. Long coal trains pass through the city daily too. Is is great to know that, in another couple of years we will finally have AMTRAK passenger service linking up with the northeast passenger rail corridor and probably for further south destinations as well. Roanoke is long, long overdue for passenger service restoration too! It will be very welcomed.

By air, Roanoke is served by the Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA) which handles only the smaller intermediate jet and turbojet passenger aircraft. Usually you have to fly to a large connector city airport to go any great distance due to the limitation on the airport size, passenger aircraft and airlines serving the area. The airport is really a beautiful jewel to visit just to marvel at how nice an airport can really be.

In the famous Farmers Market in the center of the city you can find fresh produce and plants as well as arts and crafts by local artisans. Along the market stalls are the numerous shops and restaurants all within a convenient walking distance which you can stroll onward to enter the newly redone Elmwood Park where our new open amphitheater hosts many festivals and concerts and other events throughout the year. We just had The Strawberry Festival and soon to have The Chili Festival.

There are many festive events throughout the year including all the holidays too so no matter what time of year you visit you will have plenty to see and do. There are many accommodations too, from the economical to the pricey depending on your budget but ALL are great almost without exception.

I will be posting many of my pictures here over time for you to enjoy. I never get tired of this town and I doubt that you will either.

Do you like to camp, hunt, fish, swim, hike, or bike?

The surrounding countryside and mountains features many options to pursue like; swimming, boating, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking and more! You have the Appalachian Trail nearby and also millions of mostly undeveloped acres consisting of The Jefferson National Forest and The George Washington National Forest. These forests combine to form one of the largest areas of public land in the Eastern United States. jointly they cover 1.8 million acres of land in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Approximately 1 million of these acres are remote and undeveloped and 139,461 acres have been designated as wilderness areas which eliminates future development.

There are many miles of forestry roads if you like to travel these rustic semi or non improved roads in your SUV or on motorcycle or mountain bikes or just plain hike on foot. Some go for 15 miles or more before coming out on improved roadway again and you will be out of cell phone signal too for most of this mileage with only intermittent cell phone coverage.

Not too many miles away southeast of Roanoke City you have beautiful Smith Mountain Lake to explore if boating and lake fishing and other water sports are your thing. This lake has a surface area of 32 square miles, with a shoreline of 500 miles and a depth running to 250 feet. This lake was created in 1963 to form a large reservoir and at one end of the lake is a hydroelectricity dam and plant. Plenty of marinas exist for boaters and the area has developed over the years with some quite upscale homes. The scenery is fantastic! Some great restaurants serve the locals and the many visitors and there are for fee and for free boat launching ramps for lake access as well.

Come back here often as I add more information about what to see and do in this wonderful part of our country.

Map of Roanoke, Virginia

Please let me have your thoughts about visiting Roanoke, VA. Thanks.

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4 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Roanoke, Virginia

Some great Roanoke area restaurants that I have visited and highly recommend.

Café Asia

The Blues BBQ Company

Awful Arthur's Seafood Company (Downtown)

Table 50 Restaurant

202 Market

Coach and Four

Mill Mountain Coffee House

Chateau Morrisette Winery and Restaurant (in Floyd, VA)

Corned Beef & Co.

Cornerstone Bar & Grill

Country Cookin - Southwest Roanoke

The Homeplace Restaurant , Catawba, VA

Macado's - Downtown Roanoke

Mac and Bob's Restaurant, Salem, AV

Peaks of Otter Lodge, Bedford, VA

The Pine Room Pub at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center

The Swinging Bridge Restaurant, Paint Bank, VA

Texas Tavern - (A VERY unique experience I guarantee)



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