Recently I wrote an article for Alexandria Living Magazine about Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the area surrounding the City of Roanoke. The area really has made a lot of changes since I last visited, and it’s now a place that I would bring my family for a weekend trip. With the addition of Amtrak trips to the area connecting Boston, New York, and Washington D.C., the Roanoke area is an inexpensive, reachable area for couples and families to enjoy.

I liked it so much, I went a little crazy with the photos and thought I’d share more of them than I could in the article. Clearly, food, booze and baseball are high on my list of entertaining activities and photo worthy events!

Amtrak through the mountains

Jumped on board the train in Alexandria, but you can now connect in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, really making it convenient for families to get away for the weekend.  The ride is easy, cafe car has food and beverages (including beer and wine), and the view of the mountains is excellent!

The train station in Roanoke is located right downtown, and is a quick walk to The Hotel Roanoke, which is where I stayed.  The hotel has a glass and steel enclosed walkway connecting it to downtown, and a complimentary shuttle within a 5 mile radius making it easy for families to get to restaurants and the train station.

Hotel Roanoke


Roanoke has definitely embraced the growing craft beer market, with many local breweries popping up as well as some major west coast operations setting up shop around town.

Ballast Point - San Diego based brewer opened a new 128 tap tasting room and restaurant in 2017 with a massive and well run brewery and distribution center. Just outside of Roanoke, this place is all about the brews and views, and their delicious IPAs and incredible Blue Ridge Mountain views are a must see.

Deschutes - With plans for the Bend, Oregon brewer to open an East Coast location in 2019, they have started a Downtown Roanoke Tasting Room with 15 taps of their tasty beverages available as well as growlers, crowlers and beer to go! Always a good crowd on hand, and located right in the middle of downtown, making it a good resting spot.

Starr Hill - 23 rotating taps are available at the Starr Hill Pilot Brewery & Side Stage. Starr Hill has a great spot showcasing live music performances as well as rotating local food trucks on their patio. Fun spot to try the one off trial brews before they hit the big time and go into full production.

Big Lick - Fresh off the Forbes magazine Top-50 list for craft beer growth, this downtown brewer has the largest beer garden in the area with weekly rotating taps and growler fills to go. Food is available for delivery on site from a few local restaurants. (Watch out for the ghost!)


Tasting Room

Starr Hill

Starr Hill


Fortunato - Locals rave about the pizzas, but don't miss the Short Ribs and Gorgonzola Polenta. Located in Downtown Roanoke.

Blue Apron Restaurant & Red Rooster Bar - Fantastic service and tasty food and drinks, located on Main Street in Salem. Loved The Rye Stand cocktail!

I think everyone expects there to to be amazing hiking, rafting, mountain biking in an area like this, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. When you’re done with that, here are a few things you might not expect.

Virginia Museum of Transportation - Planes, trains and automobiles..literally. Great collection of locomotives, celebrating the rail history of Roanoke. Great for kids!

Black Dog Salvage - As seen on HGTV, DIY and GAC, these guys repurpose salvage items into usable and beautiful pieces of art and furniture. Visit one of their two enormous warehouses to meet the crew and pick up some of their handiwork (also available online )

Taubman Museum of Art - Designed by Randall Stout to reflect the natural elements of the Roanoke area, with 15-20 exhibitions per year, and great kids programs.

Salem Red Sox - Minor league farm team of the Boston Red Sox, showcasing future stars, with a stadium view that could put a lot of pro parks to shame! 

The Roanoke Star - Perched upon Mill Mountain, the star can be seen from miles around Roanoke, hence the Star City nickname. The view from the star itself offers a wide panorama of Virginia’s Blue Ridge below.

Salem Red Sox

Stadium View

Roaring Run

Please leave your thoughts below... good, bad, or otherwise.  Tell me places I missed, things you like, etc, and share if you feel like it!  Thanks!


  • Clayton Hensley

    on May 10, 2018

    Roanoke is a city I have visited many, many times over the years. However, it's been a few years since I've been up there. For people visiting there, I would also suggest a visit to nearby Bedford home of the National D-Day Memorial and Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson's retreat. Mill Mountain Star is a must when visiting the city, no doubt. While it looks like you touched on some great places to eat, I would also suggest Macado's, a regional collection of restaurants with a lot of charm, personality and great reasonably priced food.

  • Eric Frost

    on May 10, 2018

    Great pics and information about the Roanoke area. Lots of newer places since I've been; makes me miss the area quite a bit. Look forward to more articles.

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