Virigina's Blue Ridge

Virginia’s Blue Ridge, located in the Roanoke Valley, features outdoor amenities like mountain biking and hiking, live entertainment, craft beer and wine, and famous restaurants for food lovers. If you’re an adventurous that loves the outdoors and would like an unforgettable experience without spending a lot of money, visit this region as soon as possible. 

AS I CAME OUT OF THE ROANOKE-BLACKSBURG Regional Airport I couldn’t help but feel “free.” After living in Queens for 20 years, the closest I’ve ever been to nature was Central Park, so touching down in a town with so much grass and greenery made me feel like a trapped farm animal raised for meat that has been granted freedom for the first time. Over 300,000 people live within the Roanoke Valley making it the largest metropolitan area in Western Virginia and the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains. And get this, the mountains are actually blue! Scientifically, the reason why it is blue is because of the organic compounds released from trees and plants, which creates a blue haze all over the mountains.

While on this trip, I realized something, driving and biking are requirements for most places here. Day one, I was taken to a spot called Champloo Dessert and they served me cookies and cream flavored rolled ice cream. What makes this ice cream place so great is that it appeals to any demographic, broke college student? You’ll like it here. Stressing about refinancing your mortgage?You’ll like it here. Kids won’t shut up? Definitely bring them here.

On my second day, I was brought to a place that really caught my attention. The Roanoke Star, this eye-popping attraction is the world’s largest freestanding illuminated man-made star. Constructed in 1949 at the top of Mill Mountain, visitors and hikers go there looking at the famous Catawba, Brushy or Tinker mountains. Better bring good camera lenses and binoculars to have a great view of these mountains because you won’t get the best view with the naked eye. I got up Mill Mountain by car; however, getting down is where it got interesting.

My first experience riding on a rocky trail within this area was the worst at Mill Mountain Park. I was sweating bricks at first because I haven’t ridden a bike in a year and that was in Central Park. The saying we all know is true, you never forget to ride a bike but going on this particular trail was a different kind of beast. I had my bike backpack, helmet, tights for the body and water bottles seated on the mountain bike. Now this may seem like useless information, but I cannot tell you how handy this stuff comes in when you bike down rocky trails. God bless the person who came up with those biking tights for all those times I fell off.

Periodically I had to make stops downhill due to rocks, branches and a cliff. Fell down twice and rolled safely on my back to avoid lacerations and scratches. Nevertheless, I would do it all again. Overall, it was exhausting and a truly wonderful experience, the trail was nature at its finest with its awesome views of the forest. It is a sight worth the exhaustion, especially for city individuals like myself. Later that day it was time to rejuvenate myself.

When it comes to food and alcohol, they have some of the best restaurants that most travelers would enjoy. I got to experience a place called Blue 5. According to public relations manager Taylor Ricotta of Virginia’s Blue Ridge, she said, “Blue 5 has a killer reputation for their beer selection (voted best beer bar in VA and 2017 VA winner for Great American Beer Bars) as well as jazz and live music. Then Mangos is prime for the lake (Smith Mountain Lake) with live entertainment on the weekends and a super fun atmosphere.”

Going to Blue 5 after an exhausting day of mountain biking was worth it. I ordered St Louis Ribs with macaroni pie for dinner and trust me it was delicious. The beer they presented was also tasty and different compared to regular ones. Compared to living in New York, Virginia does a great job of growing their local breweries and being competitive, which is why they won these awards. It is a really terrific place to go for lunch and dinner, especially after doing adventurous activities.

But before you leave Virginia’s Blue Ridge and get back into reality, try to do kayaking or jet skiing on the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake. It made my very first time jet skiing a very memorable one by doing it here. I can’t swim but I had a life jacket on, I held the handles tightly traveling throughout the lake, taking in nature and the houses by the shore. Still, for me to endure all of these wonderful activities in Virginia for a week was worth it. Visit this unique place anytime and I guarantee it will be something worth talking about with friends and colleagues, especially if you persuade them to try out these activities.

Where to stay:

Country Inn & Suite by Carlson

TripAdvisor

7860 Plantation Rd

Roanoke, VA 24019

(540) 366-5678

 

Hilton Garden Inn

Yelp

4500 S Peak Blvs

Roanoke, VA 24018

(540) 776-3400

 

 

Home2 Suites by Hilton

howldb.com

4830 Valley View Blvd NW

Roanoke, VA 24012

(540) -581-1000

 

 

Where to eat:

Champloo Desserts

RaymondM | BLEU

9 South College Avenue

Salem, VA 24153

(540) 999-1229

 

Blue 5

RaymondM | BLEU

312 2nd Street SW

Roanoke, VA 24011

(540) 904-5338

 

Mexico Viejo Bar and Cantina

RaymondM | BLEU

400 Crazy House Drive

Moneta, VA 24121

(540) 719-1000

 

Angelle’s Diner

RaymondM | BLEU

2609 Lee Highway

Troutville, VA 24175

(540) 591-7208

 

The Landing Restaurant

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773 Ashmeade Read

Moneta, VA 24121

(540) 721-3028

www.thelandingsml.com

 

What to do:

Bridgewater Marina & Boat Rentals

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16410 Booker T Washington Highway

Moneta, VA 24121

(540) 721-1639

 

Blue Ridge Mountains  Vineyard

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1027 Shiloh Drive

Eagle Rock, VA 24085

(540) 798-7642

 

Roanoke Mountain Adventures

RaymondM | BLEU

806 Wasena Avenue SW

Roanoke, VA 24015

(540) 525-8295

 

Salem Memorial Baseball Stadium

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1004 Texas Street

Salem, VA 24153

(540) 389-3333

 

Roaring Run Recreation Area

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450 Roaring Run Road

Eagle Rock, Virginia 24085

(540) 342-6025

The author: RaymondM