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Top-11 Great Things to Do in Roanoke VA – A Place with the Rich History

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I’m Veronica Brown, I’ve been traveling for more than 10 years, traveled to more than 100 countries of the world, sharing with you the most useful and important information on the pages

If you plan to visit VA, you should definitely find time to visit the mysterious Roanoke. Everyone knows it because of the lost colonists. Tourists come here to feel the spirit of this place. Roanoke is an independent city, which is located in the Roanoke municipal area and is the tenth largest city of the Commonwealth of Virginia. It is part of the Roanoke region of Virginia and is the largest city on the Roanoke plain.

From all sides, Roanoke is surrounded by the cities of Salem and Vinton, but it is administratively separated from them and belongs to the Roanoke district. In the city, there are more than ninety-four thousand inhabitants. On the territory of the city, there is the Roanoke River, which the city owes its name to. Nowadays, this city is a commercial and cultural center of a number of surrounding areas of Virginia. Want to find out how to spend time here? Then, you are offered to check out which things to do in Roanoke, VA.



Thing to do number 1: Have a look at the natural bridge in Virginia

There is no a tourist who has been to Roanoke and didn’t go to see the natural bridge in Virginia. This is a geological formation, which is a natural arch of 66 meters in height with a span of 27 meters. Is this the only reason why it is worth your attention? No, there are others.

  • The natural bridge has long been a popular tourist attraction because even Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, called it “one of the most stunning works of nature.”
  • Later, during the XVIII and XIX centuries, European tourists started to come here more often. This fact has contributed to the fame of this great natural monument.

Today, you can also see a lot of tourists here as the bridge looks really beautiful.

Interesting: As the highway passes along the archway, everyone can admire the scenic view from the height, however, in order to view the bridge from below, you will have to purchase a ticket for $ 18.


Thing to do number 2: Visit the Taubman Museum of Art

This is an art museum in the downtown of Roanoke. It is dedicated to the art of the region. This place was established to encourage visitors to enjoy the city’s metro mountain mix of arts, culture, and outdoor fun.

The Taubman Museum of Art has a collection of 19th – 20th-century American art with about 2,000 works of art:

  • modern and contemporary paintings,
  • design,
  • decorative arts,
  • and photography.

The American art collection includes such great works from different art movements like:

  • American Impressionism,
  • the Arts and Crafts Movement,
  • the Hudson River,
  • and American Realism.

The collection presents the famous artists:

  • Normal Rockwell,
  • Childe Hassam,
  • Winslow Homer,
  • John Singer.

Here, you will also find a small section with collections offered by the self-taught artists. There are 11 galleries holding 15-20 exhibitions every year. You can see works of the following artists there:

  • Norman Rockwell,
  • John James Audubon,
  • Kehinde Wiley,
  • and Sally Mann.

If you travel with kids, then you should go to this place because it offers a lot of interesting things for kids. Thre is much interactive learning space with a lot of educational programsa and workshops for kids of various age groups.

Programs for children at the Taubman Museum of Art include:

  • Strolling into Art,
  • Saturday Tours,
  • Art Venture Winter Break Week,
  • Artful Journeys,
  • and Young at Art.

Interesting: You can choose among a variety of tours. You have a large choice of tours: from  customized tours to college groups.

Thing to do number 3: Go to the Valley Greenways

This is a network of trails, which goes through green space  throughout the city. This place is great for those who love biking and walking. There are 26 miles of different trails, which are suitable for:

  • biking,
  • walking,
  • and cycling.

The trails go throughout such great landmarks like:

  • Mill Mountain,
  • Carvins Cove,
  • Read Mountain.

If you are a trekker, then you will enjoy the opportunity to extend the outdoor time being engaged in vigorous types of activities.  In case, you plan to have a holiday with chidlren, this place will attract their attention as well.

Interesting: There are different paths. Some are based on location while others gravel or pavement.There are even paths suitable for wheelchair.

Thing to do number 4: Have a walk in the Mill Mountain Park

Roanoke is located at the base of the wonderful Mill Mountain, which is the so-called home to the Mill Mountain Park. There is a 600-acre park, which is open to the public. Every tourist will find something to his taste here as there are a lot of various recreational activities.

There are two scenic overlooks with views of the surrounding landscapes. This place features:

  • the Discovery Center,
  • Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden,
  • a playground,
  • the Mill Mountain Zoo,
  • 10 miles of trails,
  • picnic areas.

You may not know but the park is also notable thanks to the Roanoke Star, which is 90-foot tall landmark lighting up the mountainside.

Interesting: The star appeared in 50s being built with the intention to decorate Christmas tree. Now it is also used for the holiday decorations.

Thing to do number 5: Go to The Virginia Museum of Transportation

This is one of the greatest museums in this place as it highlights the history and significance of the development of transportation technology. Not only men but also women will be impressed if visiting the oldest gallery automobile gallery, which is entitled From Mud to Mobility: A History of the Virginia Department of Transportation. What is more, this gallery features a dirt-painted floor to give a fully immersive experience.

You will find many railroad exhibits here. There are five subsections detailing local and regional use and development. An aviation gallery demonstrates historical and modern aircraft, including:

  • an authentic, historical hot air balloon,
  • a gyrocopter,
  • a hang glider,
  • and two airplanes.

Interesting: The museum features galleries that have the interpretive and interactive educational features.

Thing to do number 6: Take Fun and Delicious Food Tours

If you are inspired by the local foods, then you should definitely choose one of the Roanoke Food Tours. Such a tour will give you an opportunity to explore everything concerning the Roanoke food. When learning the cultural history, which is really rich in Roanoke, you will be able to combine educational and fun pastime.

  • Roanoke Food Tours is focused on the most notable food found here.
  • It highlights both historical and cultural facts, thanks to which the city is considered unique.
  • During 3 hours of walking, you will enjoy anecdotes and stories referencing the city’s past while passing by the most notable

During the tour, you are going to visit a variety of local eateries. The accent is made on the most original and historical contributions to the city’s food scene.

Interesting: The departing location may vary on the basis of the tour. The transportation to and from the tour is available depending on the location.

Thing to do number 7: Go to the Science Museum of Western Virginia&Hopkins Planetarium

The Science Museum of Western Virginia is a a huge complex providing a lot of educational facilities in Roanoke. It is open throughout the year being both an educational post and the local attraction at the same time. The visitors of the museum can enjoy the opportunity to engage with science and learning. You will be offered a lot of interactive and engaging activities, which are going to be interesting for both kids and adults.

In the Science Museum, you will find  a lot of permanent exhibits on the following topics:

  • the Earth,
  • the human body,
  • the development and utilization of steel,
  • science labs.

This is not the complete list as there is much to see. If you are traveling with kids under 5, then you will be glad to find out that there is a center, which has been specifically designed for kids under five. There is a beautiful butterfly garden that offers to take part in the annual event. The visitors have a great chance to engage with live butterfly of different species.  This place is one of the must-visit places in Roanoke VA.

Interesting: The planetarium has a number of educational programs that are held on the daily basis. The main topic is space, stars, and space travel.

Thing to do number 8: Visit the Mill Mountain Theatre

The region can boast with only one professional theatre. This is the community-based theatre the Mill Mountain Theatre, which welcomes tourists to enjoy a great number of performances throughout the year.Besides the entertaining shows, there are also a lot of other things to enjoy:

  • classes,
  • summer camps,
  • private lessons to both children and adults.

You should know that one of the reasons why this place is popular is that it has 50 years of experience.The 50-year-old production company performs on 2 Roanoke stages. One of them is the Trinkle Main Stage, and another one is known as the more intimate Waldron Stage.

Interesting: If you are planning to have a romantic evening with your beloved, it is a good idea to go to the second stage and have a romantic date.

Thing to do number 9: Go to the Mill Mountain Zoo

If you aren’t far from the top of Mill Mountain, then in several minutes there is the downtown Roanoke with the famous Mill Mountain Zoo. This is the best place to go with the whole family. Since 1980s, this place has become the home for many animals. First, it was the animal sanctuary and educational center. The zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) since 1995.

Today, this place is one of the favorite for both locals and tourists. You will be provided with the chance to enjoy a lot of exciting attractions. This place should be included in your list of  must-visit attractions due to the following reasons:

  • Now, the museum has a large collection of species, including snow leopards, cougars, red wolves, red pandas, tufted deer, Black hornbills, and Indian crested porcupines, among many others.
  • Visitors can engage safely with the animals.
  • There is a possibility to learn more about their natural environments and behaviors.

Interesting:  Every visitor has an opportunity to get both interpretive and interactive education from Zoo workers. There is also literature you can read.

Thing to do number 10: Have a tasty dinner at The River and Rail

The best place to go if you want to taste the local foods in a charming bistro environment is the River and Rail. You will be able to enjoy the  dinner throughout the week along with a Sunday Brunch.

You will be lucky if you eat dishes cooked by the Chef Aaron Deal who specializes in Southern cuisine made local to West Virginia. All classic dishes have got new Cajun flavors in a combination with the French touches. The menu is very diversified. It changes depending on the season. However, this is not the only reason to come and spend some time here. There are other reasons, which attract the tourists visiting Roanoke to this place:

  • The restaurant is located in a historic building;
  • It has interesting architectural design;
  • There is unique lighting, great wood features, and nail head upholstery trim.

Interesting: All these featues make the place not only stylish and modern but also the one having warm atmosphere.

Thing to do number 11: Taste the traditional American cuisine in the Beamers 25

Beamers 25 is a bistro, where you will find a menu of American cuisine for both lunch and dinner. If you like the menu emphasizing the restaurant’s specialty such as:

  • burgers,
  • sandwiches,
  • and pizzas.

You should definitely find time to eat here as one of the best wood fired pizzas is cooked exactly in the Beamers 25.

The restaurant is dedicated to the honorary Coach Frank Beamer. You must have heard abput the head football coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Even if you haven’t known anything about him, the design and itnerior of this place will provide you with the chance to learn more about this notable athlet. At the same time, this is not the sports bar.

Interesting: This is a cosy place featuring modern décor and original architectural design.




Written By:

I’m Veronica Brown, I’ve been traveling for more than 10 years, traveled to more than 100 countries of the world, sharing with you the most useful and important information on the pages

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