(Nitro pictured above. Photography credit: Christina Lee)

Visitors have the opportunity to explore history, taste local cuisine, and embark on endless adventures in Virginia's Blue Ridge with their furry friends

Roanoke is known for its rail heritage roots that transformed the region in the late 19th to 20th century.  The interactive David R. & Susan S. Goode Railwalk, is perfect for visitors to take their pups and explore railroad memorabilia and storyboards that illustrate Roanoke’s rich rail history among a beautiful backdrop of the historic Hotel Roanoke, built in 1882.  

From Norfolk Avenue in downtown Roanoke, continue walking towards the historic City Market and Farmers’ Market.  Farmers’ Market.  Choose to refuel from a variety of pet-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating and wonderful local cuisine or set up a picnic in Elmwood Park underneath the Art Walk sculptures.  Keep in mind, most places require dogs to be on leashes.

After a filling lunch surprise your four-legged best friend with a “PawPaw” savory homemade dog treat at the Natural Foods Co-op in Grandin Village.  On Fridays until they sell out, Viva la Pupcakes are available at Viva la Cupcake, also located in Grandin. You and your furry sidekick will surely enjoy spending time in the historic village.

Among many of the pet-friendly shops near the Grandin Village area is Black Dog Salvage home of the popular DIY Network television show Salvage Dawgs.  Upon arriving to the 40,000 sq. ft. architectural salvage shop, anticipate a warm welcome from their famous black lab ‘Sally’ who loves new friends.  Note – A park and greenway are accessible just behind Black Dog Salvage for a bit of additional exercise.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, head north along the Blue Ridge Parkway to Explore Park near milepost 115 for a variety of peaceful hiking trails.  Virginia’s Blue Ridge is full of pet-approved outdoor activities along the Roanoke River Greenway trails including the Wolf Creek Greenway in Vinton which winds past a mid-19th century farmhouse to Stonebridge Park with swings, activities for kids and a picnic shelter.  Also consider exploring Carvins Cove Natural Reserve and the iconic Appalachian Trail.  

Looking for a scenic drive? Hop in the car and head south along the Blue Ridge Parkway to milepost 175.5 (about 75 minutes) for a wine tasting at Chateau Morrisette Winery.  After sampling wines like Our Dog Blue or Blushing Dog, bring your four-legged pal to the gift shop or explore the vineyards nestled within the Blue Ridge Mountains.

After a long day of exploring plan to stay in one of the many pet-friendly hotels in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.  The Sheraton Roanoke Hotel & Conference Center has designated rooms on the first floor with easy access to the courtyard area for dogs up to 80 lbs. – complete with a cozy Sweet Sleeper dog bed, water and food bowls provided by the hotel.  For a list of more lodging options, attractions and things to do visit www.visitvablueridge.com or stop by the Roanoke Valley Visitor Center in downtown, open seven days weekly, located at 101 Shenandoah Ave., NE Roanoke, VA 24016.  All four-legged visitors are welcomed to Virginia’s Blue Ridge with a pet and a bowl of water!

Additional pet-friendly activities:

Doggy Daycare

Field of Dreams Doggie Day School – A great place to leave your dog for a day while you go do non-pet-friendly things while on vacation.  Bring any vaccination certificates from your local vet and know that your fur-kid(s) will be having lots of fun and exercise!

Local dog parks

Highland Dog Park – Dogs are welcome to run and play off-leash at this 1-acre fenced dog park, which includes two retired fire hydrants.
Thrasher Park Dog Park – One-acre fenced in area including one small dog as well as large dog area. Dogs may run off-leash in fenced in area.
Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail – supported by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy – this location was once a railroad corridor turned into a dog park.
Salem Rotary Dog Park – Fully fenced area including section for small dogs and a section for large dogs.