Roanoke is a perfect destination for visitors who want a little of everything from a getaway in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The big star atop Mill Mountain is a terrific vantage point, offering you glorious views of the valley, and, particularly, downtown Roanoke. But beyond the valley are cities with histories to tell and activities to do. Visit the rest of Old Dominion and see what makes Virginia the Mother of States.
Located 121 miles (195 kilometers), or a 2-hour drive, away from Roanoke, the city of Charlottesville was named after the British queen, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, and was home to two presidents of the United States of America; Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe. Both presidents left behind beautiful estates that have been maintained with great care.
Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a must-see! James Monroe’s Ash Lawn-Highland, located adjacent to Monticello, is another such site, and both historic estates are well preserved with informative guides making tours interesting.
Carter Mountain Orchard is a great place to take the children. The kids will enjoy the fruit picking, apple cider slushies, and homemade peach ice cream. Wine and cider tastings are available. and an abundance of picnic tables can be found. So buy a bottle of wine to pair with some snacks and you’ve got yourself an afternoon of joy!
Duration: 5 hours
Northwest of Roanoke lies Fayetteville, a small town where outdoor activities are popular. A 2.5-hour drive will take you across 145 miles (233 kilometers), where you can take a dip in the New River and have a go at white water rafting and many other paddle sports. Hiking, trail biking, zip lining, and ATV tours are among other popular picks of visitors, but the one you definitely must try is the New River Gorge Bridge walk. The catwalk under the bridge takes you under one of the highest vehicular bridges in the world. The height can be scary, but safety harnesses give you the assurance that you are safe. If heights do not scare you, several places offer climbing instruction to those new to the sport of rock climbing; sign up for a lesson when you’re there!
Private River SUP Instruction in West Virginia
Price: from 100 USD
Duration: around 3 hours required
A 2-hour-and-45-minute drive northeast will take you to the town of Culpeper, 163 miles (262 kilometers) from Roanoke. Start your trip with a visit to the Museum of Culpeper History. Admission is 4 USD and it takes about 30 minutes of your time to wander the entire museum. Pair it with the walking tour around the town to learn more about the culture and history of Culpeper. Next, book your tickets for performances and shows in the State Theatre, a true community treasure. For a real treat, drop by Belmont Farm Distillery, a traditional copper-pot distillery where they grow their own corn and process it into whiskey. If you’re looking for food to pair with your drinks, Old House Vineyard is a nice winery that also serves stone-oven pizzas.
Private Culpeper Winery Tours
Price: from 325 USD
Duration: around 5 hours required
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A 3-hour drive east across 189 miles (304 kilometers) will land you in Richmond, capital of the US state of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The city is home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where you will find extensive collections and exquisite pieces of art on display all year round.
For a tranquil walk, visit the gorgeous Maymont, a 100-acre (40.5-hectare) estate given to the community by James and Sallie Dooley who lived there from 1893 to 1925. The grounds are huge and the mansion is worth a tour as well! Another popular attraction is the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. There, you can learn about plants, take gardening classes, or just stop to relax in a beautiful setting. To learn more about the state of Old Dominion, tour the Virginia Capitol Building, designed by Thomas Jefferson to resemble a first-century Roman temple in France (Maison Carrée in Nîmes).
Duration: 3 hours
A 3-hour-and-45-minute drive toward the eastern coast will take you across 218 miles (351 kilometers) to Williamsburg. The city is part of the Historic Triangle, which attracts millions of visitors each year. The cities that make up the Historic Triangle are Jamestown, Yorktown, and Colonial Williamsburg, the restored Historic Area of the city. Colonial Williamsburg depicts the lifestyle and culture of the 18th-century colonial period in the USA, essentially a living-history museum. There’s much to see as you walk around; to soak everything in, you would need 2 to 3 days just to explore the restored estate. If you or your travel companions have had enough history lessons, enjoy the rides at Busch Gardens Williamsburg theme park or splash around in the waterpark, Water Country USA.
Witches of Williamsburg Tour
Price: from 14 USD
Duration: around 1 hour required
As many of the above cities and towns are located east of Roanoke, if you’re planning a weekend trip, you’ll likely be able to visit more than a couple of them! All the destinations give off a relaxed vibe and warmly welcome their guests with good ol’ Southern hospitality, so you can be assured you’ll enjoy your trip to any one of them.
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