Free Things to Do in Roanoke

Free Activities in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Everyone is always looking for ways to travel on a budget and this section will help you plan your Blue Ridge Day without having to spend a dime.

Whether traveling by yourself or visiting with the entire family, you can take advantage of some of the great free things to do in the Roanoke Valley.

You can't put a price tag on the views of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains and you will be surprised at everything else you can also do. Come enjoy a vacation that is enjoyable and affordable.

Click the section you're interested in below to sort through the free things to do by category:


Be a Trailsetter - Virginia's Blue RidgeThere's no cost to enjoy many of the great outdoor experiences in Virginia's Blue Ridge, including hundreds of miles of easily accessible trails for hiking, biking, & paddling.

Blue Ridge Parkway

A visit to Virginia's Blue Ridge is not complete without spending some time on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The majestic road runs right through the Roanoke Valley and has earned the title of "America's Favorite Drive."

There are multiple access points for the Parkway around the valley, including an intersection near the Roanoke Star atop Mill Mountain.

The Parkway is open year-round but is occasionally closed due to inclement weather.

Disc Golf

Disc Golf Course

The Roanoke Valley in Virginia's Blue Ridge is fortunate to have a variety of disc golf courses and a Disc Golf community that can provide more information about disc golf events in the area. In the City of Roanoke, disc golfers can enjoy the challenging nine hole course at Fishburn Park, which is located near Virginia Western Community College, and the course at Highland Park.

Botetourt County features the amazing Greenfield Disc Golf Course, a challenging course with beautiful surrounding scenery.

In Roanoke County, take on the hills and slopes of the course at Walrond Park and the new Mayflower Hills Disc Golf Course.

And in Franklin County, golfers can attempt to master the 18 holes that wind through the woods at the Franklin County Recreation Park.

Learn More: Disc Golf Courses in Virginia's Blue Ridge >


Visit Virginia's Blue Ridge has partnered with different organizations to create the Downtown Roanoke Geocaching Trail. This exciting activity provides you the opportunity to explore Downtown Roanoke and discover some of the rich history and culture of the area.

Hiking Trails - including McAfee Knob & the Appalachian Trail

Virginia's Blue Ridge is meant to be explored and our trails provide you an experience in your own mountain playground. The Roanoke Valley offers numerous hiking trails, ranging in levels of difficulty and lengths.

One of the most popular trails in the area is the 8.8-mile round-trip hike to McAfee Knob, an iconic part of the Appalachian Trail. The breathtaking views from McAfee Knob are unforgettable but difficult to describe, which is one of the reasons it is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.

McAfee Knob Appalachian Trail

Roanoke Star & Overlook

Enjoy a little stargazing when you visit Virginia's Blue Ridge by making your way up to the Roanoke Star, the world's largest freestanding man-made star. The star, which sits atop Mill Mountain, is illuminated at night and the overlook provides a breathtaking view of the Roanoke Valley and surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains.

Roanoke Star

Roanoke Valley Greenways

With over 30 miles of greenways in the Roanoke Valley, this provides a great opportunity to enjoy some of the natural beauty of Virginia's Blue Ridge.

The Greenways can serve as a historic tour of the Roanoke Valley, with many of them weaving through some of Roanoke's most historic and charming neighborhoods. The Greenways, which are paved, are commonly used for biking, jogging, walking, and leashed pets are allowed.

Some of the most popular greenways include: Roanoke River Greenway, Mill Mountain Greenway, and Lick Run Greenway.

Virginia Western Community Arboretum

There are a variety of colors in Virginia's Blue Ridge and a great place to see some of those beautiful colors is at The Community Arboretum. The two-acre educational space is at Virginia Western Community College and the various gardens contain nearly 700 different types of plants.

The arboretum is open daily from sunrise to sunset and serves as a popular place for photos.

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Public Art

Many of the local arts museums and galleries in the region feature free admission, offering you the opportunity to discover the amazing work of local and international artists. There are also numerous murals, sculptures, unique signs, and other fantastic works of public art throughout the region.

Visit the City of Roanoke website to learn more about its Public Art Program and other Arts & Culture initiatives.

>> 10 Public Art Pieces to See in Virginia's Blue Ridge 

LOVEworks in Virginia's Blue Ridge

Salem, VA - LOVE Sign

As part of the Virginia is for Lovers popular LOVEworks campaign, you'll find a variety of local LOVEworks art throughout our region. The LOVE letters feature unique experiences and symbolize so many things that make Virginia's Blue Ridge a special place to live and visit. They also make for fantastic photo opportunities! Visit our LOVEworks page for a map of locations and more information about these creative works of art.

Local LOVEworks >

Art in Downtown Roanoke

Virginia's Blue Ridge continues to transform as an emerging center for arts and culture, and a great place to get a taste of the arts is in downtown Roanoke. Numerous galleries and art shops are scattered around the historic market area, offering the perfect opportunity for browsing through various pieces and displays.

>> Sculptures to See on the Art Walk in Elmwood Park

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is one of the premier arts destinations in the Roanoke Valley. Take in the museum's exhibits, which feature a variety of contemporary art from internationally renowned artists, emerging figures, and regional names.

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum - Hollins University

Olin Hall Galleries at Roanoke College

A trip to the Olin Hall Galleries at Roanoke College, located in the City of Salem, provides you an opportunity to discover unique pieces of art, some of which are created by artists right here in the Roanoke Valley.

In addition to the exhibits of traveling and permanent collections, the Olin Hall Galleries have exhibits that feature the work of many of the art students at Roanoke College.

Rooftop & Lobby of Center in the Square

The unique arts & culture center in the heart of Downtown Roanoke is an icon of Virginia's Blue Ridge. While it's a nominal fee to visit many of the museums located in the museum, it's free to enjoy the aquariums in the lobby and to explore the rooftop gardens and patio space. The rooftop view also offers one of the best views of the surrounding Downtown Roanoke skyline and the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon.

Taubman Museum of Art

Roanoke Taubman Museum of Art

This stunning museum in the heart of Downtown Roanoke is one of Virginia's premier art museums. Free admission to the museum, which also serves as an architectural marvel, means visitors are able to enjoy the special exhibits and a permanent collection that boasts over 2,100 pieces by renowned artists from around the world.

>> An Art Lover's Guide to Virginia's Blue Ridge

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History & Heritage

Step back in time in Virginia's Blue Ridge by checking out some of the free historical sites, which highlight things such as our railroad roots, the local role in pioneer life, and African American heritage. 

Booker T. Washington National Monument

Booker T. Washington

The monument is the site of the former Burroughs Plantation, where Booker T. Washington was born in 1856. Now, the monument offers a glimpse into Washington's life as an enslaved child during the days of the Civil War and part of what inspired Washington to eventually become one the most influential leaders in our nation's history.

The monument, which is operated by the National Park Service, is open daily from 9am - 5pm and guided walking tours are available on certain days.

Salem Museum

Located in Historic Salem, the Salem Museum tells the story of the rich history of the City of Salem. The museum is located in the Williams-Brown House, which was constructed in 1845, and is operated by the Salem Historical Society.

The museum is home to numerous historical artifacts, exhibits about the city's architecture, iconic photographs, and other interesting pieces.

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Roanoke Region Spotlight

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