Roanoke is the largest metropolitan area along the Blue Ridge Parkway and combines small-city charm with big-city amenities. A well-traveled crossroads since colonial times, the coming of the Norfolk & Western Railway in 1882 sparked the region’s development as southwest Virginia’s commercial and cultural hub.
The city’s thriving downtown is anchored by its Historic Farmers Market, where vendors sell everything from fresh produce and garden plants to arts and crafts all year long. This National Register district also enjoys a lively cultural scene, featuring myriad unique retail shops and galleries, a variety of international restaurants, the ever-popular Center in the Square that houses several museums, and the exciting Taubman Museum of Art.
Roanoke served as an early headquarters for the development of the Parkway. In a building downtown, field supervisor Stanley Abbott coordinated a team of experts in preservation, landscaping, engineering, cultural interpretation, and other disciplines who brought their skills to bear on the Parkway’s design and construction. In addition, the Appalachian building styles around Roanoke helped influence the look of new structures created to serve the Parkway.
Today, Roanoke offers several access points to the Parkway from Milepost 110 to Milepost 121, including the spur from the Parkway to Mill Mountain at Milepost 120, completed around 1970. In the 1980s the City got behind the Explore Park Project as a way to better connect with Parkway travelers. Explore Park‘s visitor center is a valuable resource. FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway has an office here, and the Roanoke-based Western Virginia Land Trust promotes Parkway conservation and stewardship in our region.
The Town of Vinton borders Roanoke. Here, you can experience small-town charm right off the Blue Ridge Parkway, including shopping, restaurants, festivals, events and museums.