iTinerary: Roanoke Blue Ridge Mountain Road Trip

photo: Creative Dog Media

iTinerary: Roanoke Blue Ridge Mountain Road Trip

The town of Roanoke was first called “Big Lick”. In 1852, after being established as a hub for trade and industry, it’s main economy was based around the Norfolk and Western Railroad. Now, it’s one of the countries tech hubs thanks to Virginia Tech and its research facilities.

A great old town, shopping and dining melds with the nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and all the activities that come along with being outdoors–hiking, biking, camping, boating and fishing.

This five day iTinerary will keep you going! The perfect for a road trip.

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Day 1

You must be hungry?

Lunch at Beamer’s 25

Coach Frank Beamer head football coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies for the last 25 years, opened up this gastropub featuring everything from salads to hamburgers and hot dogs. Don’t miss: The Meatball, a concoction of meatballs, marinara, parmesan and provolone cheese on a Amorosso sub roll, or the Baltimore with jumbo lump crabcake, lemon slaw, red onion, bread and butter pickles, tartar sauce.

Dinner at Fortunato

Fortunato is the region’s only traditional Italian kitchen & Neapolitan style pizzeria. From the unique Italian wine list and original cocktails to the house-made pastas and locally sourced vegetables and meats.

Don’t miss: any of their pizzas!

Check in to:

Sheraton Roanoke

Do it!

Center in the Square

Center in the Square is a complex made up of aquariums, butterfly museum with live butterflies, a performance center and museums. Their 8,000 gallon living coral reef aquarium is the largest aquarium of its type in the Mid-Atlantic Region and home to 250 colorful marine fish and 150 live soft and stony corals.

Don’t miss: the seahorse exhibit.

Roanoke Pinball Museum

Stop in for a few rounds of fun at the Roanoke Pinball Museum, an interactive museum dedicated to the science & history of pinball, has approximately 25 machines ranging from the 1950s to the 1990s.

Day 2

You must be hungry?

Breakfast at The Roanoker

The Roanoker, serving home-cooked meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner for more than 65 years, was recently named by Southern Living as one of Virginia’s five best breakfast spots. Their biscuits are so famous, the Today Show called requesting them for a segment. And, they’re delicious!

Lunch at Wasena City Tap Room and Grill

Pub food at its finest! Pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, and entrées are all prepared with fresh ingredients. Try a few of the 31 Beers on tap.

Dinner Cornerstone Bar and Grill

A meeting spot, especially after the famed Tuesday Night Beer Riders stop in to quench their thirst and grab a bite. If you’re looking to make new friends, and see Roanoke on a bike, the beer rides are a fun and active way to connect with locals.

Do it!

Roanoke Star to the Railroads

Start at the Roanoke Star and Overlook-for a bird’s eye view of the city from this historic landmark. The Roanoke Star is the world’s largest freestanding illuminated man-made star, constructed in 1949 at the top of Mill Mountain in Roanoke, Virginia. After construction of the star, Roanoke was nicknamed “Star City of the South”. It’s visible for 60 miles from the air and it sits 1,045 feet above the city of Roanoke.

Then onto the O. Winston Link Museum, with its collection of striking photographic works of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. Follow on the Railwalk, an outdoor museum with interactive signage, displays and whistles, detailing the history of the railroad and connects the Market District to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, the Commonwealth’s Official Transportation Museum, located in Roanoke’s historic Norfolk & Western Railway Freight Station. The collection includes approximately 2,500 objects, more than 50 pieces of rolling stock—locomotives and other rail cars. It’s the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South.

Road Trip out to Black Dog Salvage

Black Dog Salvage is the brainchild of Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp with the idea of preserving Southwest Virginia’s architectural past and their TV show about it is a hit! These “Salvage Dawgs” specialize in reclaiming and reselling industrial fixtures from mantels and doors to vintage plumbing and art tiles found in historic homes. See Mike and Robert and their black dog, Sally in person here, or catch them on the DIY Network, HGTV, and GAC networks.

Explore Park

Continue road-tripping to Explore Park, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 115. Pristine woodlands and hiking trails make for an afternoon with nature. Just bring your bug spray!

Or, if you’re up to a little more strenuous hike, head to McAfee Knob, a trademark of the Appalachian Trail. It’s one of the Trail’s most photographed sites, featuring an overhang of rock and with an almost 270 degree panorama of the valley below. Spy hikers that are making their way along the Appalachian Trail.

Day 3

You must be hungry?

Breakfast at Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co.

Road trip to Botetourt, about a 20-minute drive from downtown Roanoke. Tucked in the Daleville Town Center is Land of a Thousand Hills Coffee Co. Their coffee is 100% Arabica, fairly traded, and roasted fresh. Don’t miss: the blueberry scones from Willow Pond Farm that are made fresh and delivered here each morning.

Lunch at Maw and Paw’s Diner

A family owned and operated home-style diner in the heart of Eagle Rock, VA, it’s a few miles from Roaring Run Recreational Area. Don’t miss: their famed burger or tuna salad sandwich made to order!

Dinner at Three Li’l Pigs

In the same shopping center as Outdoor Trails, come back off the trail and dine on some ribs, cole slaw, and cornbread at Three Li’l Pigs. Grab the “Presidential Seat” where George Bush Sr. once sat, when he stopped in for a bite of their famed BBQ. Don’t miss: the fried Oreos with vanilla ice-cream topped with chocolate sauce. Oh yeah, li’l piggy!

Do it!

Road Trip it to Roaring Run Recreational Area

Roaring Run Recreational Area offers an easy well-marked trail. The adventure begins at the historic iron furnace and winds back and forth along the Roaring Run stream, crossing five footbridges before ending at the beautiful Roaring Run Falls.
Tidbit: Roaring Run Furnace is a 19th century iron furnace on National Register of Historic Places.

Hike a part of the “AT”

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains are part of the Appalachian Trail, fondly called the “AT” by those hiking it. A strong community is built around the trail and at Outdoor Trails they have specialists helping hikers prepare for it. Their retail store greets many Appalachian Trail hikers each day passing through. Stop in, ask questions, grab some gear and hike a portion of the trail that starts just outside of their shop.

Day 4

You must be hungry?

Grab and Go from anywhere
Lunch or Dinner at Ippy’s Restaurant

Depending on your morning or all day Philpott Lake adventures, head to Rocky Mount for either lunch or dinner at Ippy’s. This locals favorite has a dynamic duo, dubbed “The Grill Master Team.” Tommy and Jo Dee carry on the legacy of their family-owned business with taste scratch recipes dating back to 1919! Don’t miss: the Oyster Rockefeller, their same recipe for three generations.

Check in to (optional):

camp at Philpott Lake

Do it!

Enjoy Lake Philpott

Get to the Philpott Lake Marina Fishing Pier early, and bring your Pontoon boat! Take the morning, or heck, all day to enjoy the lake, which covers 3,000 acres and maintains over 100 miles of undeveloped and clean shoreline. The entire lake is surrounded by 7,000 acres of forested land. It’s peaceful and uncrowded, and a place to get away from it all.

Day 5

You must be hungry?

Grab and Go from anywhere
Lunch at Texas Tavern

The Texas Tavern has gotten notoriety these days as a “must-eat-at” in downtown Roanoke, especially after being included in George Motz’s book, “Hamburger America”. Encapsulated in a small brick building sits an 86 year old counter with just 10 seats. Totally old school since the 1930’s, their no frills menu simplifies an confusion when ordering. Hamburgers, hotdogs and chili. Don’t miss: some sass and quick comebacks from the staff, their chili made from a 100-year old recipe, and the Western Cheesy– a burger with a fried egg.

Do it!

Smith Mountain Lake

Virginia’s most popular lake, Smith Mountain Lake, boasts 500 miles of shoreline. “SML” is known as the “Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains”. More than a dozen restaurants offer up everything from breakfast to fine dining, lake-front accommodations are available and recreational vehicles will find plenty of space to set up camp. Kayak and stand-up-paddle board your day away.

(optional) Stay in Roanoke and shop ’till you drop

Roanoke offer unique boutiques, the Valley Mall, and several furniture outlets. A local farmer’s market, antique shops and restaurants make the Old Town District a destination.

Salem Red Sox (seasonal)

Take in a game at Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium. Watch a Single-A baseball game with the Salem Red Sox, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

For more info:

Visit Roanoke, Virginia Adventures information.
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