The Blue Ridge Mountains are a star attraction in this Virginia town, which is an outdoor playground for hikers, mountain bikers and nature lovers. The Upper James River Water Trail helps round out the outdoors scene as a popular spot for kayakers. Bluegrass music and a booming craft beer scene add to the fun. Roanoke also received high marks in the Education category, thanks to its standout schools.
Local Obsession: The Roanoke Star, a free-standing, 88-foot-tall neon star. The Instagram-ready icon is located on top of Mill Mountain.
Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: Hot, humid summers and cool winters
Top Industries and Employers: Roanoke is home to Advanced Auto Parts, a leading employer. Carilion Clinic is also a top employer. The region has a diversified economy, with key industries including banking, insurance, advanced manufacturing and auto suppliers.
Local Dream Job: A mountain biking instructor. Roanoke is known as America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital.
Quintessential Meal: Scratch-made biscuits at The Roanoker Restaurant.
Favorite Weekend Activity: Roanoke is a outdoor lover’s paradise. Hiking McAfee Knob, a picture-perfect spot along the Appalachian Trail or accepting a challenge and conquering the Dragon's Tooth hike.
After-Work Meetup Spot: Enjoy live music and a flight of beer at Blue 5 Restaurant.
Best Brewery/Local Beer: It’s hard to narrow it down. The Cheers Trail Passport Program, though, rewards you with special offers and will help guide you to local breweries, wineries and distilleries.
Beloved Bookstore: Too Many Books, a used and rare bookstore.
Free Way to Have Fun: Playing disc golf at a nine-hole course at Fishburn Park.
- Brittany Anas