Plan a weekend trip to Roanoke, a charming city surrounded by Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.

Visit the Taubman Museum of Art, explore the City Market, dine at the restaurants, go on a food tour and spend a morning in Mill Mountain Park. Best things to do in Roanoke, VA with kids include the Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium and the Mill Mountain Zoo.

1. Taubman Museum of Art

Taubman Museum of Art
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The Taubman Museum of Art is one of the best things to do in downtown Roanoke. The museum building is a significant feature of the city skyline, and the uniquely modern façade, built in 2005, is a Roanoke attraction in and of itself.

The museum’s mission is to provide art to the community in order to encourage and foster discovery, learning, and enjoyment. The museum features primarily American artists, including a large collection of local pieces specific to West Virginia and the Appalachian region.

Featured artists include Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, and Winslow Homer. Throughout the year, the museum hosts several events, workshops, and family and children centered attractions.

110 Salem Ave SE, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-342-5760

2. Roanoke Valley Greenways

Roanoke Valley Greenways
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Roanoke Valley Greenways is a network of trails through urban green space located throughout of the city. Within the Greenway’s space, nearly 26 miles of various trails are available for biking, walking, and cycling.

The trails converge throughout important landmarks in the city, including Mill Mountain, Carvins Cove, and Read Mountain, offering trekkers the opportunity to extend their outdoor time and engage in further vigorous activities. The paths vary based on location, but are primarily gravel or pavement.

Some paths may be wheelchair accessible, but others might be more challenging. If you are wondering what to do in Roanoke with kids, this is a great place to visit.

3. Mill Mountain Star and Park

Mill Mountain Star and Park
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The city of Roanoke sits at the base of the majestic Mill Mountain, home to Mill Mountain Park. This nearly 600-acre wilderness park is open to the public for a variety of recreational activities. The park is home to two scenic overlooks with views of the surrounding landscapes, and it also features the Discovery Center, Mill Mountain Wildflower Garden, a playground, the Mill Mountain Zoo, 10 miles of trails, picnic areas, and general usable green space.

The park is also home to the notable Roanoke Star, a nearly 90 foot tall landmark that lights up the mountainside overlooking downtown. Built in the 1950s, the star was originally a Christmas decoration that is now a permanent fixture with special red, white and blue lighting. It is used during significant holidays or commemorations.

4. Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, VA

Virginia Museum of Transportation, Roanoke, VA
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The Virginia Museum of Transportation highlights the history and significance of the development of transportation technology.

The museum features several permanent galleries with both interpretive and interactive educational features. The oldest gallery is the automobile gallery, which is entitled From Mud to Mobility: A History of the Virginia Department of Transportation. Interestingly, this gallery features a dirt-painted floor to give a fully immersive experience.

A railroad exhibit features five subsections detailing local and regional use and development while an aviation gallery demonstrates both historical and modern aircraft, including an authentic, historical hot air balloon, a gyrocopter, a hang glider, and two airplanes.

303 Norfolk Ave SW, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-342-5670

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5. Carvins Cove Natural Reserve

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve covers over 12,000 acres, making it the second-largest municipal park in the country. The reserve is located just 8 miles from Roanoke, where it offers a treasure trove of outdoor recreational activities including hiking, fishing, boating, horse-back riding and mountain biking. The reserve borders a 14 mile stretch of the famous Appalachian Trail and boasts more than 60 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. The 600 acre reservoir is ideal for boating – you can use the boat ramp at the marina, where you will also find picnic tables, boat rentals and more. Paddle boats, row boats and kayak rentals are available on site.

Carvins Cove Natural Reserve, 3644 Reservoir Rd, Roanoke, VA 24019, 540-853-2236

6. O. Winston Link Museum, Roanoke, VA

O. Winston Link Museum, Roanoke, VA
© O. Winston Link Museum

The O. Winston Link Museum highlights the story and work of the 20th century American photographer, O. Winston Link. Link is widely known for his artistic niche in railroad photography. Located in downtown Roanoke, the museum itself is housed the historic Norfolk & Western railway station, a restored passenger train station. Inside, a gallery containing a collection of hundreds of prints, photographs, and displays showcases Link’s work, which is primarily printed in large scale, black and white formatting.

Alongside the photographs, the museum illustrates the stories of the subjects, which range from rural families to famous train rides. Throughout the museum, interactive and interpretive displays provide information on the artist’s background and history, including his early life, career, and success.

101 Shenandoah Ave NE, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-982-5465

7. Roanoke Food Tours

Roanoke Food Tours
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Inspired by local foodies, Roanoke Food Tours provides visitors with an outlet to explore everything the Roanoke food scene has to offer while learning about the city’s rich cultural history. Roanoke Food Tours is centered on what it considers to be some of the most distinct and notable food in the city, and it simultaneously highlights the historical and cultural facts that make the city unique.

The 3-hour walking tour provides anecdotes and stories referencing the city’s past while passing by significant city landmarks. The tour visits a variety of local eateries, focusing on notable, original, and historical contributions to the city’s food scene, and tasting samples are provided at every stop. The departing location varies based on the tour, and transportation to and from the tour may be available depending on the location.

Phone: 540-309-1781

8. Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium

Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium
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The Science Museum of Western Virginia & Hopkins Planetarium is a large educational complex in Roanoke. Open throughout the year as an educational post and local attraction, the museum offers visitors the opportunity to engage with science and learning through interactive and engaging activities.

The Science Museum hosts a variety of permanent exhibits that touch on topics like the Earth, the human body, the development and utilization of steel, science labs, and more. A center specifically for young children is available for kids under five, and a butterfly garden hosts an annual event in which visitors can engage with live butterfly species. If you are looking for top things to do in Roanoke VA with kids, this is a great attraction. The planetarium hosts daily educational programs specifically on space, stars, and space travel.

1 Market Square SE #4, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-342-5710

9. Roanoke Mountain Adventures

Roanoke Mountain Adventures
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The only full service outdoor sports outfitter in the city, Roanoke Mountain Adventures offers tours, guides, transportation, and more for a variety of outdoor pursuits. The activities available range by season but can include kayaking, mountain biking, trekking, cycling, paddle boarding, and more.

The company offers both group and custom trip options, allowing visitors to personalize their experience as needed. Mountain Adventures provides necessary equipment to renters along with instruction on usage and round trip transportation. If the trip is guided, they also provide expert recommendations throughout the activity.

Roanoke Mountain Adventures is dedicated to helping the community enjoy the outdoors and become acquainted with the region’s beautiful landscape and recreational opportunities.

806 Wasena Ave SW, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-525-8295

10. Things to Do in Roanoke: Center in the Square

Things to Do in Roanoke: Center in the Square
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Center in the Square is a community-based regional arts and cultural organization located in the center of downtown Roanoke. The Center is an expansive campus of various attractions, including an aquarium, five museums, and a live performance theatre company, The Mill Mountain Theatre, which features acting, dance, and opera performances throughout the year.

The Center offers a variety of historical and museum based attractions, including an African American culture museum, a West Virginia history museum, the Roanoke Pinball Museum, and the Science Museum of Western Virginia. The aquarium features a living coral reef exhibit, a seahorse and jellyfish exhibit, a fresh water exhibit, and a turtles of Virginia fresh water exhibit.

1 Market St SE, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-342-5700

11. Mill Mountain Theatre

Mill Mountain Theatre
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The only professional, community-based theatre in the Roanoke region, Mill Mountain theatre plays host to numerous performances throughout the year. The talented company offers a preset calendar of upcoming shows and also provides classes, summer camps, and private lessons to both children and adults.

The 50-year-old production company performs on two local stages, the larger and ornate Trinkle Main Stage, and the more intimate Waldron Stage. If you are looking for romantic date night ideas in Roanoke, this is a great place to visit.

1 Market St SE, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-342-5749

12. Read Mountain Preserve

Read Mountain Preserve
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Located outside of downtown Roanoke, Read Mountain Preserve is a 250-acre nature park and preserve. A favorite spot for outdoor pursuits, the Preserve has a 4-mile out-and-back hiking trail that begins in the parking lot and ends at the Buzzard Rock summit.

The trail leads through a lush, dense forest, eventually gaining enough elevation to provide visitors with an expansive view of the valley, surrounding countryside, and downtown Roanoak in the far distance. Additionally, two smaller trails meander throughout the park and offer more accessible trekking options. A small parking lot is available for hikers and guests, along with picnic benches and a restroom facility.

13. Mill Mountain Zoo, Roanoke, VA

Mill Mountain Zoo, Roanoke, VA
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At the top of Mill Mountain just minutes from downtown Roanoke sits the Mill Mountain Zoo. This animal sanctuary and educational center has called this location home since the 1980s, and today, it continues to provide visitors and locals with exciting attractions and the chance to see and learn about notable creatures.

Today, the museum is home to a varied collection of species, including snow leopards, cougars, red wolves, red pandas, tufted deer, Black hornbills, and Indian crested porcupines, among many others. Visitors are able to engage safely with the animals and take note of their natural environments and behaviors while receiving interpretive and interactive education from Zoo staff and posted literature.

2000 J P Fishburn Pkwy, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-343-3241

14. Splash Valley, Roanoke, VA

Splash Valley, Roanoke, VA
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Splash Valley Water Park is operated by Roanoke County Parks Department and offers a variety of fun water activities for all ages. The main attractions at Splash Valley are the two 34-foot high waterslides - everyone who would like to have fun on these slides has to be at least 48 inches tall. However, there is plenty of fun for younger children too – they can enjoy floating around the current river or cool down at the children’s sprayground or test their nerves on the starter slide. If you live in the area you will benefit from buying a Season Ticket which entitles you to unlimited entry all season long. More ideas: Virginia Beaches

Splash Valley, 7415 Woodhaven Road, Roanoke, VA 24019, 540-777-6300

15. The River and Rail

The River and Rail
© The River and Rail

The River and Rail offers local cuisine in a charming bistro environment. They serve dinner throughout the week along with a Sunday Brunch. Chef Aaron Deal specializes in Southern cuisine made local to West Virginia, infusing Cajun flavors with French touches and putting a new spin on classic dishes. The menu is based around seasonal availability and locally grown produce, and it changes regularly to accommodate produce cycles.

The restaurant itself is located in a historic building and features unique architectural features and a casually upscale ambiance. Unique lighting, beautiful wood features, and nail head upholstery trim add to the modern yet warm surroundings.

2201 Crystal Spring Ave SW, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-400-6830

16. Things to Do in Roanoke: Explore Park

Things to Do in Roanoke: Explore Park
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Conveniently located very close to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Explore Park beckons all adventure seekers to come and explore hundreds of acres of prime Virginian woodlands, hills and meadows. You can pull on your hiking boots and set off along a network of hiking trails or bring along your mountain bike and hone your skills at the Blue Ridge Bike Center. Other fun activities include the Treetop Quest, a fun ropes course suitable for anyone older than 4 years. The park has miles of river frontage in the Roanoke River Gorge where you can enjoy canoeing, kayaking, tubing or SUP – rental equipment is available on site. The park has 2 campgrounds offering cabins, yurts, RV sites and tent sites.

Explore Park, 56 Roanoke River Parkway, Roanoke, VA 24014, 540-427-1800

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17. Beamers 25, Roanoke

Beamers 25, Roanoke
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Beamers 25 is a casual bistro with a menu of American cuisine for lunch and dinner. The menu highlights the restaurant’s specialty, which is burgers, along with other American fare like wings, salads, sandwiches, and wood fired pizzas. The restaurant’s namesake and honorary dedicatee is Coach Frank Beamer, the head football coach of the Virginia Tech Hokies. This highly acclaimed individual has a notable athletic and coaching history, and his character marks the décor, art, and literature around the eatery.

However, the restaurant does not fall predominately into sports bar territory, and instead maintains a modern vibe with casual but snappy décor and architectural features.

357 Salem Ave SW, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-904-6233

18. City Market, Roanoke, VA

City Market, Roanoke, VA
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At the core of downtown Roanoke is the City Market. Comprised of local retail, dining, and entertainment options, the market is a buzzing attraction. The small district is a historic landmark of the city, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The focal point of the market is the City Market Building, which presides over the center of the Market Square.

Throughout the year, various events are held at the Market, including an Art Market, sidewalk-shopping festivities, and live music events. The market always bustles with guests who stroll around the buildings and enjoy several floors of expansive eating and shopping options. More ideas: Weekend Getaways in Virginia

32 Market Square SE, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-342-2028

19. Things to Do Near Me Today: The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

Things to Do Near Me Today: The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum
© The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University provides an impressive showcase for a wide range of prominent, emerging and regional artists. Dedicated to enriching the lives of the greater Roanoke community through the magic of art, the museum hosts artists’ talks and lectures and a full calendar of rotating exhibitions, as well as displaying works from their considerable permanent collection. Major annual exhibitions include the Senior Majors Exhibition, the spring exhibition of works by undergraduate art majors and the summer Dance Lab exhibition featuring the theses work of the graduate students.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, 8009 Fishburn Drive Roanoke, VA 24020, 540-362-6532

20. Jeter Farm

Jeter Farm
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Five generations of the Jeter family have farmed and lived on the site of the current Jeter Farm. The homestead dates back to 1854 and the historic barn was built in 1871 and has been a local landmark every since. Today Jeter Farm hosts a much-anticipated annual Fall Festival when visitors come from near and far to buy fresh Virginia produce at the Country Store, choose the best Halloween pumpkin and enjoy the farmyard games. There are hayrides and a corn maze for the kids to explore and they can also meet some of the farm animals. You will always find something delicious to eat at the Farm Store. In July the farm hosts an annual vintage Truck and Tractor Pull event.

Jeter Farm, 1320 Mount Joy Rd, Buchanan, VA 24066, 540-977-5314

21. Roanoke Craft Beer Tours

Roanoke Craft Beer Tours
© Roanoke Craft Beer Tours

Designed by local beer lovers, Roanoke Craft Beer Tours allows visitors to explore the best craft beer options the city has to offer. Boasting traditional methods utilized by local craftsmen, Roanoke Craft Beer Tours focuses on what it considers to be some of the finest beers in the world, typically known as Virginia’s Blue Ridge region beers.

The tour visits three local breweries and provides chartered transportation to and from each stop. Snacks and food are available for purchase along the way. The departing location varies based on tour, and transportation to and from the tour may be available depending on location.

2409 Lincoln Ave SW, Roanoke, Virginia, Phone: 540-309-1781

22. Valhalla Vineyards

Valhalla Vineyards
© Valhalla Vineyards

Located on a beautiful elevated site overlooking Roanoke, Valhalla Vineyards produced their first vintage in 1998. Since then the winery has produced a range of award-winning wines including one of the first Syrah cultivars to hail from Virginia. As the years have passed, the winery has been awarded more than 100 national and international awards. Their beautiful tasting room opened to the public in 2004, and today wine enthusiasts come from near and far to enjoy a wine tasting and cellar tour. While you sip your wines you can marvel at the views which surround you.

Valhalla Vineyards, 6500 Mount Chestnut Road, Roanoke, VA 24018, 540-725-9463

23. Riddle Me Roanoke

Riddle Me Roanoke
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Riddle Me Roanoke is determined to ensure you have a great experience when you visit their carefully designed escape rooms. Each of the rooms and themes has been meticulously appointed to offer a fun and challenging experience. There are rooms for all interests, starting off with the exciting Pirate themed room which is suitable for 4-6 players. The Last Will room is a quest to find a hidden last will. The Evaluation Room is cleverly themed around a CIA plot – this is the most difficult of the rooms to escape from and will challenge your wits at all levels. The rooms are suitable for families, groups of friends or team-building exercises.

Riddle Me Roanoke, 2067 A Electric Road, Roanoke, CA 24018, 540-523-1771

24. Treetop Quest

Treetop Quest
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Located within Explore Park, Roanoke’s Treetop Quest is a fun aerial ropes course for the whole family to enjoy. The quest has a beginner course (Young Adventurers) suitable for children as young as 4 years of age and a fun net trampoline area where younger children can play. The other courses become progressively more challenging, and you will find yourself flying through the air on Tarzan-like swings, climbing vertical rope nets, walking tight-ropes and flying down zip lines. Participants are always attached to a safety harness to prevent accidents. The course is open seasonally, from around April through September – please check their website for details.

Treetop Quest, Explore Park, 56 Roanoke River Parkway, Roanoke, VA 24014, 540-387-6078

What is Roanoke, VA known for? What to do.

What are the top attractions to visit in Roanoke, VA?

The top attractions to visit in Roanoke, VA according to local experts are: