A thriving metropolis tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Roanoke is known for its historic museums, educational activities and hiking on Mill Mountain. With a rich heritage in railways, it’s the perfect destination for exploring nostalgic innovations from yesteryear.
Things to do in Roanoke
Delve into the backbone of Roanoke at the Virginia Museum of Transportation, located in a century-old freight station downtown. You can mount old steam locomotives and view diesel rail cars, aviation exhibits, model trains, trolleys and a Jupiter Rocket. For a quirky hands-on museum experience, stop by the Roanoke Pinball Museum to play vintage machines from the 1930s.
Look to the skies for a glimpse of the city’s lofty landmark, the Roanoke Star, which holds a listing on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The neon icon sits atop Mill Mountain, surrounded by the 230-hectare Mill Mountain Park. You can hike, bike or walk numerous trails in all seasons, including the Mill Mountain Star Trail.
Traveling with young children? Head to Mill Mountain Zoo to see local animals, such as the yellow-spotted side-neck turtle and the Indian crested porcupine. At Center in the Square, you’ll find a cluster of family-friendly attractions, including the Living-Coral Reef Aquarium, Butterfly Garden and Science Museum of Western Virginia.
Spend some time in the historic Market District, home to the year-round City Market. Enter the mosaic-tiled edifice to find a plethora of local art, cheeses, produce and food stalls. For a sit-down meal, grab a seat at Fork in the Market for wood-fired pizza amidst the hustle and bustle of shoppers, street performers and buskers.
Getting around Roanoke
Roanoke is pedestrian and bike-friendly, with a free trolley serving main tourist attractions. You can also use taxis and ride shares or rent a car at Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.