Weekend Travel Guide: Roanoke, Virginia
Happy Friday Eve! Any fun plans for the weekend ahead? Ours will hopefully be a more relaxing one, as we’ve travelled 2 out of the last 3 weekends. This girl is tired. Today, I’m recapping our weekend in and around Roanoke, Virginia. I’ll be giving you the highlights and the places you can probably skip out on. Spoiler: Roanoke really let me down on the dessert front ☹
Saturday morning, we woke up super early to make the 4.5 hour drive out to Roanoke, Virginia. I’m talking 3:30am. A sweet woman on Instagram let me know that the parking lot for the hike we wanted to do was usually full by 8am. And she was right! We arrived around 8:10am and snagged the last open spot. Thank goodness for social media insider tips!
We hiked McAfee Knob on Catawba Mountain, which is the most photographed summit on the Appalachian Trail. It was a moderately difficult, 7.7 mile roundtrip hike, with views that made the ungodly hour we awoke totally worth it. I would highly recommend you do this hike if you’re visiting the Blue Ridge area of Virginia!
Dessert and Brews
We drove to Cupcake Cottage following the hike, in search of donuts. Now, I know the name begs to differ, but this was the only non-chain donut shop that came up via Google! Isn’t that crazy?! Like I prefaced, this area of Virginia needs to up the dessert game stat. The only donuts they had left were blueberry glazed, which luckily enough, is one of my favorite flavors. This little donut was delicious, but not worth a trip out of your way.
The east coast location of Ballast Point Brewery was next on the agenda, and we were more than ready for cold craft beer and lunch! I honestly don’t remember how many beers we sampled, but it was enough to realize this brewery is top notch. My favorites were the octoberfest and the pumpkin beers! I had an order of grilled fish tacos, while Jarrett devoured a burger, and we left with exceptionally full bellies.
After checking into our hotel, showering, and a quick nap for Jarrett, we were ready to explore downtown Roanoke. Our first stop was Blue Cow Ice Cream and I’m sorry to report my ice cream was just not good. I very rarely say this, and maybe it was just the flavor I ordered (peanut butter fudge), but it was the opposite of “creamy.” I felt like there were ice chips swirled along with the fudge. Jarrett’s flavor, Blue Cow Patty (a mixture of chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and cookie bits), was much better and I was left with major flavor envy.
Next up, was the Starr Hill Pilot Brewery, which has its main location in Charlottesville, VA. The tasting room itself was fun, with picnic tables for seating and a small side stage. We again sampled a flight, and my favorite ended up being “Last Leaf,” a maple brown ale.
Deschutes Brewery was our last stop before dinner and it was right in the downtown market place. Deschutes, which has its main location in Bend, Oregon, is known for IPAs. This may be my least favorite style, other than sour beers. Jarrett ended up drinking most of our flight before we moved on to dinner.
Dinner and a View
We decided to have dinner at Martin’s Downtown, again based on Instagram comments and I wish I had just gone with TripAdvisor’s recommendations! This casual, bar-style restaurant would have probably been a lot of fun had we been there around 10pm, as they had a stage set up for the night’s entertainment. But at 7:30pm, the place was more-or-less dead and the food sub-par. Next time we are in the area, I want to try Local Roots, a farm-to-table restaurant that was highly recommended on other sites.
The last stop of Saturday night was a quick drive up to see the Roanoke Star, also known as the Mill Mountain Star. This is the world’s largest freestanding man-made star, and led Roanoke to be nicknamed “Star City of the South.” It offered amazing night views of the city and would be worth the trip to the top!
Sunday morning we woke up, checked out of the hotel, and drove downtown for breakfast. Scrambled was our restaurant of choice, and I was so excited when the menu offered vanilla French toast! Everything was delicious and the restaurant itself was adorably decorated for the season.
We then quickly explored the downtown area, walking through a little park and window shopping, before hopping back in the car to make the drive home. To break up the trip, and because Virginia Beach does not have apple picking, we stopped at an apple festival in Lovingston, Virginia. Drumheller’s Orchard was packed with people enjoying the beautiful fall weather and I had so much fun wandering the property. We grabbed apples and a gallon of amazing apple cider, before saying hello to a few alpacas and hitting the road!
Although this was a quick trip out to the Blue Ridge Parkway, it was great to explore a new area of Virginia! We really want to do more hiking in the future, so I’m sure we’ll be back out that way in the spring. Fingers crossed they have donuts by then!
Must-do: McAfee Knob hike, Ballast Point Brewery, Roanoke Star, Scrambled for breakfast
“If you have the time” attractions: Deschutes, Cupcake Cottage
Skip: Blue Cow Ice Cream, Martin’s Downtown
“Wish we had done”: Local Roots