You’re looking for a getaway that has a bit of everything, which means there’s probably something for everyone. Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a destination that fits the bill.
Whether you’re traveling with kids, solo, or somewhere in between, we have five reasons a summer visit to Virginia’s Blue Ridge is just what you need.
NOTE: This post was last updated in June 2021.
1. Keep the Kids Busy
When the kids are in tow, their entertainment tends to come before your own. Plan a well-rounded experience by incorporating destinations that offer laughs, a little learning, and a lot of family fun. We think you and the kids will love some of our favorite places, like Center in the Square, a hub for education that also boasts excitement for multiple generations. From getting hands-on with science to pretend play at the children’s museum, learning about African American history & culture, and old school shooting at the pinball museum (pictured above), it’s a place for parents, grands, and even great-grands to enjoy.
Bounce out some extra energy at Launching Pad, our local trampoline park. Or feed the adrenaline beast within when you tackle River Rock Climbing, an indoor facility that fuels the fun rain or shine. We also love the Virginia Museum of Transportation, the best place to not only spot trains but climb aboard, too.
If your kids enjoy playing in the woods, we recommend taking advantage of the many exciting options at Roanoke County's Explore Park, which is home to the Treetop Quest aerial adventure course, great trails for hiking & biking, access to the Roanoke River Blueway for floating and fishing, and cabins & campsites for an overnight stay.
For the artistically-inclined, check out the exhibits on display at the Taubman Museum of Art and browse an incredible collection of railroad photography at the O. Winston Link Museum.
Sunny days call for time on the water and we love launching a rented boat from Bridgewater Marina onto Smith Mountain Lake or a relaxing float with Twin River Outfitters (pictured at the top of this post).
If boating isn’t your gig, there’s also dining, shopping, miniature golf, excellent ice cream, and hungry carp to feed at Bridgewater Plaza. Make a day of it!
Learn More: Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Virginia's Blue Ridge >
2. Cool Down on the Water
Some people love the beach (us included!), while others long for a fresh mountain stream. Don’t think you have to choose one and forego the other. Virginia’s Blue Ridge has both!
Kayak, tube, or fish our favorite blueways, or boat the day away at Smith Mountain Lake.
For the beach lover, hit up Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Smith Mountain Lake Community Park, Fairy Stone State Park, or Claytor Lake State Park.
There are also beautiful, easy hikes leading to waterfalls that you have to try, like Roaring Run and its awesome natural waterslide.
For a more controlled time in the water, consider Splash Valley Water Park, a favorite with locals and regional visitors alike. Slides, tipping buckets, and pools create an environment great for young and the young at heart.
Keep It Clean: When you're on the water in Virginia's Blue Ridge, please remember to do your part to respect our beautiful natural environments and water by packing out all your trash. Learn more by checking out the Leave No Trace 7 Principles.
Learn More: Water Sports in Virginia's Blue Ridge >
3. Summer Festivals & Events
Summertime is festival season and Virginia’s Blue Ridge hosts some of the best in Virginia.
The Salem Fair always draws a big crowd as the largest fair in Virginia, and we expect this year to be no different. The fair brings nine main attractions, more than 40 rides, and exhibits and concessions galore. It also features free admission and free parking - always a plus!
Jam out to live music in an incredible setting as part of the Concerts by Canoe Series at Philpott Lake - a series of concerts where a band performs on a floating stage and the audience listens from their kayaks, canoes, tubes, and boats on the water.
You can always take me out to the ballgame, and a favorite is any time the Salem Red Sox happen to be playing. An amazing sunset plus a win for the home team is #winning in every sense of the hashtag.
For some of our tastiest events, we recommend saving the dates on your calendar for popular annual celebrations like the Microfestivus Craft Beer Festival, Roanoke Wing Fest, and the Horse & Hound Wine Festival.
Learn More: Calendar of Events in Virginia's Blue Ridge >
4. Mountain Biking
Thrilling downhills are the pay-off for incredible climbs in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
In fact, Virginia’s Blue Ridge has been named a Silver-Level Ride Center™ by the International Mountain Bicycling Association - the first destination to earn this designation on the East Coast. Try your hand at our most challenging trails or see how you handle our easy rides. Either way, you’re in for a treat of scenic beauty.
Need help planning your bike adventure? Check out Roanoke Mountain Adventures for rentals and all kinds of useful information.
Ride Responsibly: Help minimize your impact on the local trails by familiarizing yourself with the Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics for Mountain Biking before your next ride.
Learn More: Mountain Biking in Virginia's Blue Ridge >
5. Patio Paradise
We love, love, love patio dining and don’t understand those who don’t. Likeminded patio diners will be in heaven in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, even those with pets!
From the incredible outdoor space at Beale's to that of the Greenway-accessible Parkway Brewing and downtown beer garden at Big Lick Brewing Company (pictured above), you’ll certainly want to spend time sipping suds with your favorite buds. Twin Creeks Brewpub at Explore Park is a great option for a post-adventure beverage.
If wine is more your thing, you’ll probably adore Valhalla Vineyards, Blue Ridge Vineyard (pictured below), and Beliveau Farm Winery. Vast expanses of view shed coupled with award-winning wine equals a day well spent.
Before You Go: Download our free VBR Cheers Trail Passport to check in at local breweries, wineries, & craft spirits producers - you'll receive exclusive special offers, discounts, and access to great swag!
For a great dinner al fresco, consider one of the many fun outdoor patio options in Roanoke's Wasena neighborhood, including The Green Goat, Wasena City Tap Room, and bloom | restaurant & wine bar.
Learn More: Outdoor Patios in Virginia's Blue Ridge >
What are you seeking? Discover more great reasons to visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge this summer, and don’t forget to share your fun via social media using the hashtag #Trailsetter.