Roanoke is a beautiful city nestled in the Shenandoah Valley of the Appalachian Mountains. It's unique location makes it a hub for outdoor adventures in almost all directions, Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and Appalachians west. It's mid-Atlantic position affords a temperate climate, allowing recreational opportunities in all seasons.
Originally named Big Lick, for the importance of its salt marshes or licks, it became Roanoke following an increase in railroad influence during the later 1800s. Its influence as a center of activity in SW Virginia has grown ever since. Today, Roanoke has added banking and tourism, among other industries, to its economic dynamo. Its success can be seen in the smiles of residents enjoying downtown and those visitors bathed in superior hospitality.
All cities have museums, but Roanoke has exhibits with a diversity and excellence to peak interest in all. A "must see" is the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Walk through its huge rail-yard of engines and cars that date back to the 1800s. Then indoors, see relics of early transportation modes. They also house a full room of vintage cars in mint condition. Plus, the stoic pictures displayed are fascinating.
Have a taste for artwork? The Taubman Museum of Art is an interesting feature before you even walk inside. The building itself was designed in artistic fashion, a downtown novelty. Taubman offers a variety of displays daily. The O'Winston Link Museum is a great place to learn about the history of Roanoke, especially its railroad. Want a taste of science? Visit the Science Museum of Western Virginia. Besides some interesting displays, see exhibits that pertain to today, and how we can improve our own health as well as the world's. Center in the Square is also housed in the same building.
The City Market Building has undergone many renovations as a centerpiece of Roanoke. This historical structure houses many eateries and serves as an iconic starting point for any downtown tour. Many attractions are within walking distance.
Find impressive shopping centers across the Roanoke Valley. At its southern end, visit Tanglewood Mall, located at the junction of routes 220 & 419. Closer to downtown, Towers Mall, also on 220, is a bustling hub near Virginia Western Community College. To the north on I581, a visit to the sprawling Valley View Mall provides an obvious reason for its name. Also, downtown has its notable storefronts.
THINGS TO DO
If you're downtown, Elmwood Park is a great place to relax and attend scheduled concerts at its amphitheater, occasional festivals are held too. Near downtown, the Berglund Center sports an indoor arena for a multitude of interesting booked events. The region is also home to a number of craft breweries that take advantage of sparkling Blue Ridge water. Refresh yourself after enjoy the expansive Roanoke Greenway trails.
Overlooking downtown is Mill Mountain, home to the 88' lighted Star of Roanoke. Drive to the top for its commanding view; the park also includes a zoo and nature trails to enjoy. From the Star, you can link to the Blue Ridge Parkway where Explore Park is located. There you can see "hands on" many rustic structures relocated from other Appalachian locations. On the western side of the valley is Dixie Caverns, the only caverns in Southwest Virginia. Nearby, visit the City of Salem; it's home of the Salem Red Sox, farm team for the major league franchise.