The best food artisans, farms, and local markets.
Beliveau Estate Winery
Just 12 miles from downtown Blacksburg, this estate boasts 12 labels to sip as you tour the 165 immaculate acres from the lavender fields to the vineyards. Pack a lunch and dine al-fresco in any of their open or covered picnicking spots or order a cheese plate at the tasting bar.
Carol Lee Donuts
The doughnuts from this North Main Street shop have been perennial favorites for three generations under the same family’s ownership (none of whose names are Carol Lee, by the way). That’s because all 26 varieties, from lemon-filled or white coconut to blueberry cake or plain-old glazed, are baked fresh at 4 a.m. seven days a week, often more than 200 dozen a day.
Rising Silo Brewery
Out at Glade Road Growing, brewmaster Greg Zielske runs a solar-powered nano-brewery that makes small batches of blonde ales, rye pale ales, stouts, and other carbonated creations, many using hops and herbs grown on the farm. For now, the only way to get a pint is to come out to the taproom housed inside a big red barn and sip away on the 1,600-square-foot patio.
The Palisades Restaurant
This former general store mixes southern hospitality with sophisticated menus. The wine list boasts 43 labels so it’s easy to find the perfect wine to pair with your cornmeal crusted trout or lamb chop with golden raisin and caper compote. Still, the best part of any meal here is the made-from-scratch desserts like the blueberry mousse or the caramel torte served with orange ginger sponge candy and house-made peach ice cream.
How to spend 36 hours in Blacksburg, with The Inn at Virginia Tech as your base camp.
6 p.m. | Eat and Imbibe at the Cellar Restaurant and 6-PAK Store
Chew on a menu that veers toward Greek pizza, calzones, and subs in the upstairs restaurant, then join the grad students and professors sipping cocktails and pints from 24 rotating taps at the bar downstairs. If you’re a beer geek, mix and match a to-go six-pack from the 600 different brews available at the craft beer store next door before you head out.
7:30 p.m. | Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech
You’re likely to find world-class performers – everyone from composer Philip Glass to humorist David Sedaris to ballet from the Dance Theatre of Harlem – on stage at the 1,274-seat Moss Arts Center. But if there are no performances tonight at this centerpiece of the university’s 147,000-square-foot arts hub, wander the trio of visual galleries that feature artworks from students to international artists.
10 a.m. | Golf at the Pete Dye River Course of Virginia Tech
The undulating fairways of this par-72, championship course lie along two-and-a-half miles of the New River, just 15 minutes from the inn. Its layout is particularly unique, with a clubhouse located on a 70-foot cliff that overlooks the water and divides the 18 holes into a pair of nine-hole loops. But be warned; if it’s football season and there’s a Hokie home game scheduled, be sure to book your tee time well in advance.
12 p.m. | Shop in downtown Blacksburg
Victorian-lamp-lined redbrick sidewalks are a pedestrian pipeline to more than 150 shops and eateries inside the 16-block heart of downtown, from clothiers to jewelers and art galleries to coffee shops. And since it’s Saturday, stroll over to Market Square Park and see what’s on offer from the more than 30 vendors at the Blacksburg Farmers Market.
2 p.m. | Tour Smithfield Plantation
Get a glimpse of southwest Virginia’s colonial history at the 1774 Tidewater-style home and outbuildings, where Revolutionary War patriot William Preston laid his head and at least two Virginia governors were born. Explore the home – the Chinese Chippendale railings on the front stairway are especially unique for what was once a frontier property – and its reconstructed outbuilding with a 45-minute tour beginning on the hour.
4 p.m. | Visit Beliveau Estate Winery
Reds and whites from this Blacksburg winery have won more than 50 medals in its three years in business, while its bucolic setting on the outskirts of town is a different sort of prize. Visit its intimate taproom for a house-selected flight of seven wines, order a cheese plate from the on-site catering service, and walk the hiking trails that cross the surrounding 165 acres.
11 a.m. | Brunch at Preston’s Restaurant
The best Sunday feast in the New River Valley is spread across a buffet table inside The Inn at Virginia Tech’s signature restaurant, Preston’s. Expect omelets cooked to order, chocolate fondue and roasted prime-rib carving stations, pancakes and waffles, and the chef’s ever-changing selection of chicken and fish dishes. Before you dig into the all-you-can-eat affair, toast with a mimosa or glass of champagne included with the meal.
1 p.m. | Hike to Cascade Falls
A pair of two-mile trails beneath an emerald canopy of the Jefferson National Forest points the way to a hidden gem: a 66-foot waterfall that tumbles into a rocky pool, with warblers chirping above the noise. From the Cascades parking lot in Pembroke, hike out along the Cascades National Recreation Trail that follows the trout-filled Little Stony Creek, then return on the gentler Upper Trail.
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Hahn Horticulture Garden
Nearly six acres comprise Virginia Tech’s teaching and display garden, a sustainably planted space off Washington Street with hundreds of woody and herbaceous species. Take a self-guided tour of the property, and see its serenity close up, like the archway of maples that leads to a large shade garden or the native-limestone bridge over koi-stocked waters that offers a glimpse of a waterfall.
Blacksburg Farmers Market
This year-round farmers market is more than a market, but a community gathering place full of local growers, butchers, bakers, and artisans as well as those hawking antiques and vintage wares. Come the summer season, expect live music every Wednesday and Sunday in addition to the amazing selection.
First opened in 1930, this intimate movie house projects a lineup of indie and foreign films on the screen and frequently features musical and theatrical performances between its Art-Deco-meets-Spanish-Colonial-Revival walls. Local lore says the building, located across the street from campus, is also haunted. Patrons repeat tales of unexplained footsteps, the sounds of a woman shrieking, and cool breezes where they don’t belong.
Blacksburg Children’s Museum
Encouraging early childhood development, this family-friendly activity center engages children with educational playtime. With exhibits mimicking a market, a police station, a train station (with running model trains), and a theater, the hands-on museum feels like you’re wandering through a scaled-down town – perfect for pint-sized explorers.
When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
Feature Adventure: Hiking Dragon’s Tooth
On top of Cove Mountain, the 35-foot-tall Tuscarora quartzite spire that gives the Tooth its name rises above geological clutter and the Catawba Valley in the distance. To see the postcard panorama for yourself, follow the route from the trailhead off of Route 311 in Catawba for four-and-a-half miles (round-trip), a smooth start that connects with a steep, rocky section of the Appalachian Trail that requires scrambling up handholds to reach the peak. Spread out for a picnic, or try bouldering the Tooth itself, but don’t overestimate your fitness and watch out for ankle-twisting contours – the trail can be as popular for search and rescues as it is for hiking.
Tubing on the New River | New River Junction
Mother Nature's Water Park
Take a float down the New River Junction for a quarter mile of easy ripples and rapids. This lazy river drift through scenic tree-lined mountains is the perfect escape from the hot summer. When you're ready for another float, hop on the free shuttle back to the junction.
Rock Climbing | Barney’s Wall
The Mountain is Calling
For an advanced climb with breathtaking waterfall views, look no further than Barney's Wall. The wall is mostly composed of blocky sandstone, providing the great holds needed to conquer the challenging overhangs. The climbing difficulty ranges from 5.8 to 5.12, getting more difficult near the main wall.
Biking the Huckleberry Trail | Bike Barn
Find Your Escape
Enjoy a 5.76-mile paved trail through the Blacksburg library, the New River Valley Mall, creeks, meadows, and pastureland. For bike rentals, repair, and local knowledge, choose Blacksburg's down-home bike shop, The Bike Barn.
Your top-rated places to explore in Blacksburg, VA
Tucked into this one square, you’ll find a 6,000-gallon aquarium, the Harrison Museum of African American Culture, History Museum of Western Virginia, Mill Mountain Theatre, and the Science Museum of Western Virginia, so plan on spending a full day (or two!) ©No Credit/Shutterstock.com