Why the Blue Ridge Mountains should be a Washingtonian’s Next Getaway

[ 1 ] May 24, 2018 |

Video:  A glimpse into the Virginia Museum of Transportation

Living in the DMV leaves no shortage of places to getaway on the weekends.  With Ocean City, Rehoboth Beach and Virginia wine country within a short drive, it is no wonder why Washingtonians never bore of things to do on the weekends.  A recent trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains added another adventure to the mix of weekend getaways.  With the recent launch of Amtrak’s service to the town of Roanoke, Virginia, the Blue Ridge Mountains are more accessible than ever before to this area.  The train ride is five hours from Union Station in D.C. with stops in Alexandria and even L’Enfant Plaza if you catch it on a weekday.  Super convenient.

What does a city girl want to do in the country??  Blue Ridge had tons of stuff to keep me occupied while easing my mind of the constant ping pong match I am in day in and day out in the city.  The top things to do in Blue Ridge Mountains?  Here you go:

The Hotel Roanoke famed peanut soup

  1. Relax! I stayed at the Hotel Roanoke, which I highly recommend for its regal and charming décor as well as stellar customer service.  Situated in the heart of Roanoke, it is a short walk from everything you will want to see in the Downtown area of the town.  The only downside of this hotel is that there is not a spa on site.    The food, however, makes you want to stop by even if you decide to lodge elsewhere.  Try their famed peanut soup and sweet bread, which is a nutty creamy combination paired with what could be confused with fried cornbread.  Thumbs up.

    Taubman Museum of Art

  2. History Lessons: I was surprised to find so many history tours in the Roanoke area.  Attractions including the Virginia Museum of Transportation (*see a clip from JKGF’s visit above) and O. Winston Link Museum take you down a walk through memory lane of how the railroad system got started.  The Taubman Museum of Art currently houses works done by acclaimed artists such as Kehinde Wiley and an exhibit of Judith Leiber handbags including a personalized Roanoke Star Clutch decorative handbag.

    Twin Creeks Distillery

  3. Moonshine: While moonshine does take you down the history lesson in prohibition, I felt it deserved its own bullet point because the Blue Ridge area has such an awesome tour.  Take for example, Chris Prillaman, owner of Twin Creeks Distillery in the Moonshine Capital of the World Franklin County, VA, who has generations of history to share about how his family started in the moonshine business.  Chris shared the copper submarine that he created to produce moonshine and how he got started in the moonshine business.  Wanting to “make music in the mountains” (*see our vid below of Chris playing the banjo for JKGF & company), Chris would follow a lot of the old timers in the mountains where he would learn how to play the banjo and the fiddle while picking up tips on what it takes to make real moonshine.  Named the moonshine capital of the world, Franklin County is worth the trip from downtown Roanoke.  There are bus tours and private motor coach tours for your convenience and safety.
  4. Hiking: There are no shortage of places to get a good hike in while visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains.  During my stay, I was introduced to many people who specifically moved there so they could get their daily hiking on.  One of the most strenuous of them all appears to be the hike to McAfee Knob, a trademark of the Appalachian Trail and one of the most photographed sites.  The knob is located at the top of Catawba Mountain with an elevation of 3,197 fee and is approximately 8.8 miles round trip.  From the looks of my peers who tried this out during our visit and looked mentally as well as physically exhausted by the end, it is a challenge.

    Scratch Biscuit Company

  5. The food. I could not talk about the Blue Ridge Mountains without mentioning the good food found here.  I already told you about the famed peanut soup that locals crave above but Roanoke has much more to nibble on.  The biscuits at The Roanoker Restaurant are made daily (for over 65 years) and tastes like savory pillows in your mouth.  The Scratch Biscuit Company is another stop that should be made for their breakfast biscuit sandwiches and sweet tea.  For something on the savory side, the French onion soup at Breadcraft Bakery is divine with a hint more sweetness stemming from the carmelized onions than typically found in the popular dish.

Bringing the kids along, check out our reasons here why they will love the Blue Ridge region of Virginia too.  Who’s ready for a road trip??

 

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Category: Washington D.C.

About the Author ()

Johnna French is a Harlem NY native with deep roots in Washington, DC and North Carolina. All three places have heavily influenced her life and the foods she loves today. After graduating Howard University School of Law and beginning her life as a young professional in the city she was led to start Johnna Knows Good Food in November 2007 to keep family, friends and colleagues updated on where to go and what to eat while dining in the nation’s capitol. French, who still practices law, leads a team of three writers to cover the ever expanding Washington, DC food scene. French has been featured in print and television, appearing in Washingtonian Magazine and is a regular contributor to various local TV affiliates including WUSA 9, FOX 5 DC and WJLA (ABC Affiliate) News Channel 8. During the 2016-2017 football season, Johnna aired on Comcast Sports Mid-Atlantic (CSN) show, Redskins Life, as the weekly tailgate host. Johnna is currently a regular contributor to the FOX Baltimore Weekend morning show.

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  1. Blue Ridge Mountains Roanoke, VA | June 14, 2018

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