The Easy Access to the Outdoors
Geographically, Roanoke’s located in a valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. When you’re standing in downtown Roanoke, small mountains can be seen, showing the promise of outdoor activities that are all around you.
With 26 miles of urban greenway trails, countless public parks and easy access to nearby hiking spots like McAfee Knob (one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail), Roanoke is a city that values fitness, mobility and the beauty of the outdoors. Others are beginning to catch on to Roanoke’s commitment to encouraging the love of the outdoors: In 2013, Roanoke was awarded the distinction of “Best Trail Town” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.
Roanoke’s 43 square miles are home to just around 100,000 people, making it Virginia’s 10th largest city. In the heart of downtown there is everything you need— from museums, to restaurants, to shops and other nightlife— is just a short walk away.
However, “downtown” accounts for just a teeny part of Roanoke. Would you believe that there are over 40 neighborhoods spread across those 43 square miles?
You won’t get enough of charming Grandin Village in the Raleigh Court neighborhood, with retro-fabulous eateries.
For a city in the middle of the mountains, you will be surprised to discover that Roanoke has a huge offering of cultural activities and museums. Roanoke’s rich rail history (as well as exhibits about Virginia’s air, road and space achievements) is on full display at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. And the architecturally impressive Taubman Museum of Art celebrates Virginian and Appalachian fine art in an ultra-modern setting.
But, perhaps the crowning glory is the 6-story Center in the Square building, located in the heart of downtown right next to the bustling Roanoke City Market. Highlighting the city’s commitment to culture, in May 2013 the Center in the Square re-opened after a $30 million renovation and became home to a hub of cultural offerings including 4 museums like the fun Science Museum of Western Virginia (with an incredible butterfly habitat), and performing arts groups like the Roanoke Ballet Theater, the Roanoke Symphony, and the Roanoke Opera. (Yes, OPERA!)
The Hopping Food Scene
From food trucks to farm-to-table, craft beer to natural food co-ops, Roanoke’s food scene is really taking off. Popular food trucks like Bruno’s Gastro Truck and the ‘Noke Truck are dishing up creative food on the go and are often seen out and about around town and at the craft brewery, Parkway Brewing.
The Roanoke Valley’s home to many farmers and the “eat local” trend is in full force. Countless restaurants offer locally-sourced and inspired cuisine showcasing the region’s best. The secret about Roanoke’s foodie scene is out: The Food Network included the River and Rail’s banana pudding with jalapeño coconut sorbet in its feature “50 States, 50 Ice Cream Treats” and Southern Living has recognized the biscuits at the Roanoker to be some of the best in America.