Adventure Us: Roanoke area day trips, Part I

Now that we are finally getting gorgeous fall weather, the time is right to plan some weekend day trips to enjoy the beautiful scenery and unique attractions within driving distance of Roanoke. So, here are a few fun day trips that our family has enjoyed over the past few years, in the hopes that your family will enjoy them too!

1: Grayson Highlands State Park and Fox Creek General Store

I’ve already extolled the beauties of Grayson Highlands State Park and its terrain, climate, and wildlife in a previous post. At elevations reaching 5,000 feet, this park sits at the very roof of the state, and has an alpine climate unique to this region of the country. Its combination of forest and mountain meadow provides you gorgeous views while you explore its hiking trails.

The two hour drive back to Roanoke from the park can be wearisome, but fortunately there are many one-of-a-kind stop-offs that can make the trip enjoyable. One that our family enjoyed was the Fox Creek General Store, which houses not only an old-fashioned country store but Sarah’s restaurant. The building is full of local products and vintage memorabilia – much of it motorcycle-related, as this place particularly caters to bikers. It is clearly also a favorite of the locals, and our whole family enjoyed the friendly service and the food. The fresh smoked barbeque is excellent, and the desserts are delicious as well.

2: Hanging Rock Overlook and Paint Bank General Store

Hanging Rock Overlook on the top of Pott’s Mountain is a hidden gem, as I’ve written in the past: after a long and rough ride (including a few miles of dirt forest road), you are rewarded with a gentle hike that leads to a spectacular panoramic view. Hanging Rock is a perfect place to experience the cool, peaceful solitude of the Appalachian wilderness.

And if you’ve spent the time to make this hour-long trip, you should treat yourself to another attraction just minutes away: the small crossroads of Paint Bank, just down the far side of Pott’s Mountain. This tiny community is centered around the Paint Bank General Store and the Swinging Bridge Restaurant. Set on the site of a historic mill with a still-operational waterwheel, this place offers an interesting mix of country charm, homemade souvenirs, locally sourced food, and friendliness! The restaurant specializes in buffalo meat from a nearby farm… you will likely smell it being prepared in the smoker, and it does not disappoint on the plate! 

3: Peaks of Otter hiking and lodge restaurant

One of the most scenic and iconic points on the Blue Ridge Parkway, Peaks of Otter is a place you have to experience. Between its refreshing microclimate, rich history, variety of trails, stunning viewpoints, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, there is plenty to see and do, whether you are a high or low energy family. 

And when you’re done exploring, retreat to the lodge restaurant. There, you’ll have the chance to relax and enjoy good food, beautiful views of Sharp Top across Abbott Lake, and, often, live Appalachian music.

We in Roanoke are certainly blessed to be nestled in the center of so many natural treasures. Don’t let the fall go by without getting out and enjoying the beauty of our mountains!

More Adventure Us

Cristy Carr

Cristy and her family keep busy writing, tutoring, homeschooling, homesteading, and adventuring in the beautiful Appalachian mountains.
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