Well, that was a pleasant surprise!
Visiting Roanoke, Virginia, I found a growing urban mountain town full of starry-eyed business owners, outdoor enthusiasts and hometown loyalists who wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
My direct flight was full of college students (there are more than 20 schools nearby) and the wonderfully tiny regional airport is just 10 minutes from the historic downtown where boutique and larger brand hotels and a large conference center are located.
This “Capital of the Blue Ridge” has been a crossroads for commerce since the 1740s, first for Native Americans and later for the railroad which roared in by the 1850s. The city now hosts popular music and food festivals and is the home to a burgeoning mountain bike scene.
Tune into this Spotify playlist to hear music by local artists while you finish this issue: Virginia’s Blue Ridge - Local Musicians & Bands
Roanoke is America’s east coast mountain biking capital with over 400 miles of trails for mountain biking, ranging from easy downhill rides to challenging cross-country treks. Virginia's Blue Ridge is also a designated Silver-Level Ride Center™ by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and home to Virginia's Blue Ridge TWENTY24 Team.
The Roanoke River runs 410 miles long through southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. More than 200 bird species and countless plants and animals call the Roanoke River Watershed home. The Roanoke River Greenway is a network of trails and recreational sites along the river with more than 30 miles of urban trails. Fish with Aaron Spicer, a professional photographer and local guide. IG: Aaron_Spicer
The Taubman Museum of Art feeds your cultural soul. For more light-hearted fun, spend a few hours diving into a deep rabbit hole of the collection of 65+ pinball machines at the Roanoke Pinball Museum. Then, head to Brady's Distillery and tasting room where the brothers Brady are crafting and pouring locally made brown and clear liquors. Peek into the lab where they designed the distilling equipment themselves. TaubmanMuseum.org BradysDistillery.com VisitRoanokeVA.com
Sustenance and stay:
The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center was built in 1882, listed on the National Register of Historic. Dine there at The Pine Room, with an open kitchen and excellent food. Or, explore Bloom Restaurant & Wine Bar where every dish is a short story. And, don’t you dare visit Roanoke without ordering the Khachapuri at The Vault at Liberty Trust. Shop Black Dog Salvage where TV stars Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp sell remarkable pieces from old homes and condemned buildings. HotelRoanoke.com BloomRke.com