The cusp of summer to fall is a sweet spot for being outside. The days are warm but not hot, and the mornings and evenings are sometimes best enjoyed with a sweater or jacket. Fire pits are suddenly perfect and the foliage is closing in on its autumnal perfection as well.
Enjoy this special time of year with us in Virginia’s Blue Ridge as you explore our great outdoors and cap your day with a drink and dinner on a patio. #MaskUp when and where you need to, keep your distance, and soak up every ounce of perfect weather as you can.
- Roanoke River Blueway & Greenway | The Green Goat & Wasena City Tap Room
- Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail | Parkway Brewing Company
- Falling Creek Park | Beale's
- Hay Rock | Three Li'l Pigs BBQ
- Roaring Run & Hoop Hole | Blue Ridge Vineyard
- Bridgewater Marina | Mango's & Ice Cream Cottage
- Mill Mountain Park | Sweet Donkey Coffee & Fork in the Alley
- Carvins Cove | Veranda Bistro & Lews
- Bottom Creek Gorge | AmRhein's Wine Cellars
- Explore Park | Twin Creeks Brewpub
- Waid Park | Twin Creeks Distillery
- Virginia's Blue Ridge Gran Fondo | 1772 Rooftop on Main
NOTE: Due to COVID-19, many businesses are offering adjusted services or hours. We recommend contacting a business beforehand as details may change at any time.
Virginia's Blue Ridge is currently open in Phase Three of the Commonwealth of Virginia's Forward Virginia Recovery Plan. Visit our Phase Three Guidelines page for more information about what you can expect at local businesses in the region.
We also encourage you to join us in taking the VBR Stay Safe Pledge - a commitment between local businesses, residents, and visitors to help the region stay safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.
Are you aware of how much outdoor rec there is to conquer within Roanoke city limits? As a start, consider renting a kayak from Roanoke Mountain Adventures and then set off for a few hours on the Roanoke River Blueway, a network of urban and country watershed. Or tackle the Roanoke River Greenway, a mostly level trail system perfect for walking, jogging, biking, and simply spending time in the outdoors. Bike rentals are available.
Toast the fun from the patio of The Green Goat or Wasena City Tap Room, both conveniently located along the Roanoke River and accessible from the Greenway. You can also enjoy a dole whip or Hawaiian shave ice at the newly opened Hang 10 Hawaiian Ice & Cream.
The Hanging Rock Battlefield Trail is narrow. It’s a path, really, and you’ll find it in Salem and Roanoke County with historical markers to educate you on the Civil War Battle of Hanging Rock as you go. Walk, run, or bike this 1.7 mile stretch along Masons Creek and then tip back a Majestic Mullet Kölsch or Get Bent IPA at Parkway Brewing Company (patio pictured at the top of this post). Local food trucks are often available and live music is, too.
Bedford’s primary place to play is Falling Creek Park, and you’re invited to enjoy it yourself. Try a challenging round of 36 holes of disc golf or show off your stunts at the BMX course. Kids love a playground, of course, and there are trails for hiking and biking.
Nosh on brisket nachos at Beale’s but save room for The Mac Attack – a burger loaded with mac and cheese, American cheese, and hot sauce. It’s overload but it’s worth it. Pair it all with a pint of Gold, the Beale’s version of a Munich Helles Lager.
Hay Rock Overlook Trail is also known as Tinker Ridge, and it’s the best aerial view of Carvins Cove Reservoir one could hope to get. The hike to Hay Rock is considered moderate and is an 8-mile round trip on the Appalachian Trail.
This one is sure to work up an appetite, so a trip to Three Li’L Pigs BBQ for a rack of ribs is definitely in order. Their patio and deck are spacious to allow for plenty of distance while you dine.
If you love waterfall adventures, Roaring Run is one for your list. It’s a family friendly hike and you’re likely to find a fisherman and certainly a leashed dog or two. Take time to check out the old iron ore furnace along the route.
If you prefer exploring on two wheels, hit the Hoop Hole Trails, a hidden gem for mountain biking in the Jefferson National Forest. Warning: Combining the Upper and Lower trails at Hoop Hole will create for a very challenging ride that will likely include a few hike-a-bike sections.
Afterward, reward yourself with a stop at Blue Ridge Vineyard where there is plenty of space to spread out and enjoy a picnic with a bottle of their wine. Their mountain views are among the best around.
Lunch or dinner on the water is an obvious choice, and it just comes down to what you have in mind. Mango’s Bar & Grill at Bridgewater Marina is an easy choice and has live evening music most weekends. For a sweet treat, go grab a scoop at the Ice Cream Cottage and then find a spot on one of the nearby outdoor tables.
What’s your pleasure? Mountain biking, hiking, or simple nature explorations with the kids are all possible at Mill Mountain Park. Do take time to check out the Roanoke Star if you have never done so. Looking into downtown Roanoke from the top of the mountain is something you won’t forget. You can also go meet our furry friends at Mill Mountain Zoo, including the adorable red panda and family of red wolves.
Sweet Donkey Coffee is the place to go for house-made yogurt, buttermilk waffles, soups, quiche, and lighter fare, not to mention the ahhmazing coffee. Enjoy it on the porch or in the yard; Sweet Donkey is found inside a 1920s home, so keep an eye peeled when looking for it.
Fork in the Alley is an old carriage house-turned-wood-fired-pizza-joint everyone will love. Don’t worry, there’s more than pizza to choose from the ambiance of the patio is like none other. The Southern Fried Chef salad is no joke awesome, especially with the avocado lime vinaigrette.
Carvins Cove Natural Reserve is Roanoke’s gem of an outdoor playground. At 12,700 acres with a 630-acre reservoir, it’s the perfect place to play. Mountain biking is serious at the Cove with nearly 60 miles of trails, but you can also fish or paddle the reservoir, just don’t swim; that’s a no-no.
Whichever activity draws you to Carvins Cove, we feel sure the patios or Veranda Bistro or Lews will draw you back out. Veranda Bistro is an Italian and Greek restaurant with a lovely patio overlooking Tinker Creek. Lews is a laid-back place to enjoy a sub or pizza, though they did win “Best Wings” at the 2019 Wingfest. We like the boneless buffalo with ranch. How do you take yours?
Stay on the path and seek out Virginia’s second highest waterfall at Bottom Creek Gorge. Tread lightly and observe only. These headwaters of the South Fork of the Roanoke River are teeming with several rare fish species. Fishing and dogs are prohibited from this natural preserve.
Discuss your observations over a wine flight at AmRhein’s Wine Cellars. If you find one you like, purchase a bottle to enjoy outside on the veranda. Picnics are welcome.
Roanoke County's Explore Park is full of outdoor adventures for the entire family. Zip-line through the forest at Treetop Quest and its aerial adventure course, access the Roanoke River, spend the night at one of the campsites or cabins, and have your camera ready for spotting birds and wildlife along the network of trails.
You won't even have to leave the park for delicious food & craft beer as the Twin Creeks Brewpub is located within the park and is open on weekends!
Waid Park is quickly becoming one of the must-ride spots in America's East Coast Mountain Biking Capital and they're constantly adding to their impressive network of trails. There's also water access to the Pigg River Blueway for fishing and paddling.
A visit to Franklin County should absolutely include an introduction to how it became known as The Moonshine Capital of the World, and there's no better place to do that than with a stop in the Town of Rocky Mount at Twin Creeks Distillery, where craft spirits production has been a family legacy for generations.
Looking for an event that features an outdoor adventure followed by time relaxing on an outdoor patio? Take part in the Virginia’s Blue Ridge Gran Fondo bicycle ride in Botetourt County. The event will be held Sunday, October 11 and there are 33, 45, and 75 mile route options, each featuring the beautiful countryside and views of the mountains.
After the ride, take part in the post-ride celebration at 1772 Rooftop on Main, an amazing new rooftop patio space in the Town of Fincastle.
Map of Locations
Tolkien was on to something when he said, “not all those who wander are lost,” and we’d like to think wandering is perhaps a way of finding oneself.
We invite you to wander with us in a quest we call WanderLOVE. Reconnect, discover, and seek meaningful moments with those closest to heart in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.