Blacksburg is a moderate-sized town in Southwest Virginia and is home of Virginia Tech (full name: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).
Blacksburg is accessible by road, or for the lucky few, by the Virginia Tech airport. It is about 30 miles west of Roanoke. Blacksburg is on US 460, about ten miles north of I-81 (exit 118B). The closest commercial airport is Roanoke Regional (ROA). The SmartWay bus offers direct service from the airport and downtown Roanoke to Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus. The closest Greyhound bus station is also in Roanoke. While school is in session, Home Ride of Virginia offers weekend bus service to Northern Virginia, Hampton roads and other Virginia universities.
If you arrive with a private plane, Virginia Tech also has an airport but with no commercial flights.
Through city and university cooperation, Blacksburg has a nice bus system. It is free to all students who have an ID card. It costs $0.50 for everyone else. On football game days, this fee is hiked up to several dollars for a couple hours before the game starts until half time. After half time for a couple hours after half time, the fees are waived.
Blacksburg is also home to the Hooptie Ride which provides a safe and sober ride service to all members of the community, which they provide in the coolest of rides. Passengers have a choice between "The Mystery Mobile," "The Rockin' Roller Coaster," and "The Yellow Submarine" among others. Each ride is decorated according to its name and usually seats up to 14 passengers.
If you are coming to Blacksburg, it is hard to miss the campus of Virginia Tech. All buildings on the campus are made from "Hokie Stone," making Tech one of the prettiest college campuses on the East Coast. Highlights include Burruss Hall, Lane Stadium and Cassell Coliseum. The Pylons above the War Memorial Chapel on the edge of the Drillfield evoke the core values of Virginia Tech and are etched with the names of every Virginia Tech student and graduate who "died defending our nation's freedom," beginning with World War I.
Downtown is an easy walk from any part of campus.
No visit to Southwest Virginia is complete without an outing on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's a great place to picnic for a day, go for a drive, or spend the weekend. Along the parkway are Bed and Breakfasts, hotels, lodges, campgrounds and restaurants. The views from any part of the parkway are stunning; there are lookouts on the side of the road for especially beautiful views. The locally operated winery and restaurant Chateau Morrisette is just outside of Floyd, off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Their dinner food is a bit pricey ($21-34/entree) but the dessert menu is more affordable ($8/dessert). They offer tastings and tours of their winery and their wine can be bought on-site.
- 1 Smithfield Plantation, 1000 Smithfield Plantation Rd (look for the sign on Duck Pond Drive), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 1PM-5PM (closed in the winter). A colonial era plantation that's more impressive on the inside than out. The head guide is very knowledgeable about the early history of the area. Great place to take the parents when they visit from out of town. $8.
- 2 Heritage Community Park and Natural Area (http://www.blacksburg.gov/Index.aspx?page=1164 [dead link]), 2300 Glade Road (park either off of Glade Rd or off of Meadowbrook Rd). 169-acre park on the edge of town. Nice place to go for a walk through undeveloped countryside.
- 3 Pandapas Pond (drive west on 460, turn left at the sign for Pandapas). A quick 5-minute drive up the mountain from the edge of town. Go for a walk around a dammed up pond on top of the mountain, taking in the pretty scenery. Connects to an extensive trail system for hiking and mountain biking.
- 4 Hahn Horticulture Garden, ☎ . Daily, Dawn-dusk. Pavilion M-F 9AM- 5PM. Free.
During the fall, a major part of the weekend is tailgating before the game and cheering on the Hokies in Lane Stadium.
As a bustling college town, there are often university activities at all times of day; inquire at the Squires Student Center.
The Appalachian Trail passes within a few miles of the town, and as a result there are ample hiking opportunities around. Closer to town is the Huckleberry Trail, a converted railroad track (paved) that is popular for walking, running and biking. Starting at the Blacksburg Library, it connects to the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg. The majority of the trail has a very gently grade and is marked with mile markers; one way to the mall is about 7 miles.
Tubing on the nearby New River is a popular activity in the summer. Tubes cost $10 to rent (for an adult) with the option to rent a tube for your cooler ($5) and provides unlimited rides down the New River all day, as well as a grilling service - all you have to do is bring the food! Parking is $2. (See http://www.newriverjunction.com/tubing/ for more information)
Blacksburg is also within an hour's drive from Floyd County with its increasingly renowned artist community and growing number of cultural events, such as the annual FloydFest. FloydFest (FF) is the last weekend in July, starting that Wednesday and continuing through Sunday. Typical performances at FF are more bluegrass-y in nature, but the festival has been known to attracts artists as diverse as Matisyaho, Brandi Carlile and The Lumineers. It is just off the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway.
If you are in Blacksburg in early-mid April, a walk through the International Street Fair is a must. Booths are set up by different international and cultural heritage groups to celebrate and share their traditions. Some booths also sell traditional handicrafts as well as delicious food and treats. There are also live performances of traditional music and dance from around the world. If it's raining that weekend, never fear! The street festival is usually moved inside the Squires Student Building.
There are several wineries that offer tours and tastings within an hour drive of Blacksburg. These include Attimo Winery in rural Christiansburg, Maison Beliveau in Catawba Valley, Chateau Morrisette off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Foggy Ridge Cider and Blacksnake Meadery in Carroll County.
Every summer over the first weekend in August, an event called Steppin' Out takes place in downtown Blacksburg. The streets are closed off to traffic and vendors from the surrounding counties and states come to peddle goods of all kinds. This is a great time to be around for the live music and diverse foods, as well as to purchase a plethora of homegrown Appalachian goods ranging from hand crafted ceramics and wooden bowls to bonsai trees and handmade instruments. There is something for everyone of all ages, whether it be getting your face painted, or meeting up and hanging out with your friends. Steppin' Out is also home to the Draper Mile. Started in 1982, the Draper Mile is an annual one-mile road race for runners of all ages.
There are also lots of events within the college student body. To discover more about what's going on, be sure to check out the main internet site for this, Blacksburg Electronic Village.
- 1 Blacksburg Comedy Club, Top of the Stairs. Every Wednesday at 9:30PM. A comedy night that's been run by this one guy for something like 10 years. They regularly feature touring comedians, so be sure to check the website. $5.
- 2 Blacksburg Farmer's Market, Downtown, on the corner of Draper Rd and Roanoke St. Sa 8AM-2PM, W 2-7PM (reduced hours in Winter). Usually has a group playing music with people dancing along. Can eat food there and try a wine tasting. Fun place to people watch. Free.
- 3 The Lyric, 135 College Ave, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Old-style movie theater from the 1930s that was renovated by the community in the late 1990s. In addition to daily screenings of current quirky/arty movies, it hosts local screenings and live events several times a month, so check the schedule on the website.
- [dead link] The Cascades, 2068 Cascade Dr, Pembroke (Head west on US-460, until you reach VA-626/Mill Road. Turn right on VA-626, then continue onto VA-623/Cascade Drive. Follow VA-623 to the parking lot.), ☎ . Sunrise to Sunset. Open year round, it is a wonderful and easy hike during any season. The falls are equally beautiful in summer and winter. During the summer, the pool surrounding the falls makes a wonderful place to cool off and take a dip. A word of caution: during the winter, spray from the falls can freeze on the rocks making them slippery. If possible, taking the lower trail up to the falls is always the preferred option. $3 parking fee/vehicle.
Most everything one needs can be found within the town itself, even without many big box stores around there is still a lot to be found for a very decent price. Stores such as Mish Mish, Matrix, and The Common Thread on the Downtown strip provide a very artistic feel to the area. Every Wednesday and Saturday there is a farmer's market one block off of main street where one can find local produce as well as goods hand made in and around the New River Valley. Apart from the shops in downtown Blacksburg and scattered throughout town, the main commercial shopping area is in Christiansburg, centered around the New River Valley Mall, about a 10-15 minute drive from Blacksburg. Here you can find a Barnes and Noble, Target, Dicks, Walmart as well as traditional mall stores like American Eagle, Belk and Gap.
Oasis World Market, on the south side of town, is an international and specialty food store, selling food and products from over 50 countries. In addition to the food, Oasis has a huge selection of imported beer, Sake and Ume (plum wine). They offer free tastings on Saturdays from 2-4pm (must have 21+ ID). Eat's Natural Foods offers organic, natural and gourmet foods and body products. Gourmet Pantry sells everything you didn't know you needed for your kitchen. It's full of interesting gadgets and a well-stocked pantry.
The Hokie spirit is always high in Blacksburg, and it's easy to show your support for the team. There are numerous shops around Blacksburg that sell Virginia Tech gear - anything from T-shirts and sweatshirts to ties, figurines, wall hangings and more. Volume II Bookstore in the University Mall, the University Bookstore on-campus and the Tech Bookstore downtown are just a few places to find and buy any Virginia Tech souvenir (or textbook).
Downtown Blacksburg offers a wide range of clothing shops.310 Rosemont is a contemporary boutique that specializes in premium denim, and also offers a unique shopping experience (they have a pool table). Alligator Ally offers Lacoste, Sperry, Vineyard Vines and other brands. Fringe Benefit was established in 1972 and offers a clothing, gifts and accessories. Mad Dog sells clothing for everyday wear or for that party around the corner. They also offer a great selection of shoes, accessories, and gifts. The Clothes Rack offers 'eco-friendly' clothing for all ages, as well as a large selection of unique jewelry and gifts.
The downtown area caters to a diverse crowd, and there are countless watering holes offering pub fare of varying quality, from the Cellar and the Underground, which provide a more traditional pub aire, to places like Cabo Fish Taco which regularly feature electronic and breakbeat music acts such as the Boogieburg Sound System. If one desires a finer dining experience they might want to check out Boudreaux's, The Cellar, Gillie's, The Coop and Poor Billy's Seafood & Sushi, which provide diverse cuisine of excellent quality for just a few extra dollars. Locals are fond of Mike's Grill, a small restaurant offering typical (but excellent) American food- burgers, fries, etc. for a reasonable price; while the college crowd can often be found hanging around places such as the River Mill, Sharkey's or Hokie House. Sheesha, the local Hookah bar, often features live jazz and afrobeat music, and Pita Vera, a Lebanese cafe is another place renowned for their pizza and hummus. Greens offers inexpensive sushi on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as a variety of other food.
Gillie's is best known among the locals as the place to eat breakfast or brunch. Although they only serve vegetarian or vegan options, Gillie's is known to serve the best breakfast in town. Favorites are the "122 special" and "Chappie's Choice." Most options come with biscuits that are made-from-scratch at Bollo's just around the corner. The service isn't always the best and the wait is often long (especially later in the morning), but the food is always worth it. Gillie's also serves lunch and dinner. Beaudreaux's also serves a great brunch on the weekends, adding a cajun twist to traditional brunch favorites like their "crab and bacon omelette," and "crabcake florentine." They also offer special pricing on their Bloody Mary's, Screwdrives, Greyhounds and Mimosa's.
Some of the best pizza in town can be found at The Cellar or PK's Bar and Grill. Each comes with its own unique atmosphere, but both serve delicious pizza. Recommended at PK's: the Polynesian Pizza or a Sicilian Pizza. Recommended at The Cellar: Kappas Gyro or the Cellar House Special. A Mellow Mushroom has recently opened up in Blacksburg.
Most bars downtown also serve traditional "bar food" such as wings and burgers. Buffalo Wild Wings is known for their wide variety of wing sauces, ranging from very mild (Salt and Vinegar Seasoning) to exceedingly hot (Blazin'). They also have a great selection of burgers and beers. Specials of note: Sharkey's offers a "buy-one-get-one-free" burger deal on Monday's. Hokie House offers a $5.99 deal for burger and fries on Tuesday and a 1/2-lb burger for $3.50 on Thursdays.
The majority of places (if you are looking for inexpensive dining) seem to concentrate on pizza and sandwiches/hamburgers - you will pay approximately double for things which are not.
The New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg is only a short drive (10-min) away, and the immediate surrounding area has many chain restaurants including Outback Steak House and Red Robin. A few, more upscale establishments can also be found either in Blacksburg or Christiansburg, such as Zeppoli's ,India Garden, Kabuki's Japanese Steakhouse and The Farmhouse in Christiansburg, Virginia. For an ethnic specialty, try the Ethiopian take-out at The Excellent Table. For an excellent meal a little farther out, try The Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba.
Several Saturdays from late Spring to early Autumn the Blacksburg Farmer's Market hosts catered breakfasts and produce competitions.
- 1 Benny Marzano's, 110 B Draper Rd.. 11AM-2AM. Regional pizza-by-the-slice chain that makes quite possibly the largest NY-style slices you will ever have (seriously, if you order a whole pie you better have an SUV-sized trunk). $4-5/slice.
- 2 Carol Lee Donuts, 1414 North Main Street. 6:30AM-5:30PM. Universally-loved, local donut shop that's been open since 1968.
- 3 Himalayan Curry Cafe, 781 University City Blvd. 11AM-10PM. Tibetan curry place that is unbeatable for the price. Try either the chicken or the spicy pork curry, depending on your tolerance for spicy foods. $5-$6.
- 4 Souvlaki, 201 College Ave. M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM. Well-known, local gyro/sub place that has a very old-school, diner vibe. Been open since 1982. $5-8.
- 5 Sub Station II, 112 Turner Street. 10AM-10PM. Small sandwich chain that sure beats a Subway or Jimmy John's any day of the week. $6-$9.
- 6 Hello Bagel, 1344 South Main St. Tu-F 6:30AM-2:30PM, Sa&Su 7:30AM-2:30PM. Local bagel shop. Good bagels and sandwiches. $3-$8.
- 7 Excellent Table, 119 N Main St (Behind the block on Main St, next to the farmer's market square). M-Sa 11AM-3PM 4PM-9PM. True hole in the wall place. Run singlehandedly by an Ethiopian woman who prepares delicious, authentic Ethiopian cuisine. Everything is cooked fresh, so which items on the menu are available is being updated several times an hour.
- 8 Kobe, 860 University City Blvd, ☎ . 11AM-9PM. Simple, tasty Japanese dishes. The main attraction is the famous (at least among students) Hokie sauce, which is served alongside every meal.
- Cabo Fish Taco, 117 South Main Street Blacksburg, VA 24060, ☎ . Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-late. Great margaritas and awesome food. Outdoor seating during the summer/warmer months. Within walking distance from downtown Blacksburg.
Go downtown and follow the crowd.
Popular with the local college kids are Sharkey's, Hokie House, Top of the Stairs and Rivermill. Hokie House, affectionately known as "Ho-Ho's," serves cheap burgers and has one of the best happy hours in town ($1 singles, $2 doubles and $3 triples; $2 fatties, $2 domestic mugs and $3 imported mugs). Upstairs has pool tables and a separate bar, but also allows smoking so beware. Sharkey's offers a weekly "buy one get one free" on all of their burgers on Monday nights, as well as outdoor seating. Locals and college students would suggest you try their Long Island Iced Teas or the Shark Juice. Top of the Stairs, or "TOTS" as it's called by everyone, is well known for their signature mixed drink "The Rail." Located up some stairs but sprawling outside and in the courtyard, TOTS is a popular spot for both current and former college students.
Those wishing to avoid the majority of college students should check out PK's, Bull & Bones, Poor Billy's and the Underground. Neither will be completely lacking in college students, but there will be less than the more popular destinations of Skarkey's, HoHo's and TOTS. If you're not looking for a late night, Beaudreaux's on Main Street has a wonderful selection of drinks (as well as a fantastic selection of cajun cooking). Because it's not open past 11PM on the weekends, Beaudreaux's will also generally be less populated with undergraduates. Another lesser known spot among the college kids is Abby's Restaurant and Bar on North Main.
One of the best places to grab a margarita is El Rodeo (El Rods) just north of downtown on Main Street. The service is quick and is accompanied with chips and salsa (they also serve delicious Mexican food if you're looking to eat). A full bar is available, but who needs it with the fantastic margaritas they serve?
A sizable university confined to a small burg has spawned a coffee shop in every nook and cranny, with as much variety (though not as much square footage or musical patronage) as you'd find in any college town. Some favorites among locals and students include Bollo's (downtown), Greenberry's (Newman Library, on campus), Mill Mountain (Giles Road), and Our Daily Bread (Gables Shopping Center). Blacksburg is also home to multiple Starbucks locations.
Bollo's is known for their made-from-scratch Cinnamon Buns, a favorite among the locals and college students alike, as well as their vegetarian and vegan baked goods. Mill Mountain roasts their coffee on site and offers lunch options, as well as typical coffee shop snacks. On campus, in addition to Greenberry's, is Deets, a coffee shop that also offers ice cream and allows students to use their meal plan (but will also accept cash and credit cards). Deets is just under D2 and is an easy place to meet up and study.
Other easy spots to meet up include the Drillfield on campus and the 1st and Main shopping plaza at the south end of town. During the warmer months, the Drillfield is home to pick-up games of Frisbee and soccer, as well as people outside enjoying the sun.
The hotels in the Blacksburg area generally seem to go from $100 to $150 per night. Disregard the prices quoted on the internet, they are often not reflective of reality. Contact the hotel directly under the pretense of booking a room to find out the actual rates. Book your rooms well in advance as there are frequent events that cause them to fill up.
- 1 Comfort Inn Blacksburg Hotel, 3705 South Main Street, ☎ . Close to many area businesses and attractions including the Virginia Tech Campus, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center, Radford University, Corning, Montgomery Regional Hospital, the VA/MS Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and the Warm Hearth Village.
- Hawthorn Suites Blacksburg/University, 1020 Plantation Road, ☎ . The Hawthorn Suites Blacksburg University is off the 460 Bypass on Prices Fork Road, two miles from downtown Blacksburg and one mile from the Virginia Tech campus.
- Ramada Limited Blacksburg, 3503 Holiday Lane, ☎ .
- 2 Hilton Garden Inn Blacksburg, 900 Plantation Rd, ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Next to the campus of Virginia Tech, the 137-room Hilton Garden Inn Blacksburg hotel caters to corporate and leisure guests.
- Collegiate Inn of Blacksburg, 900 A Prices Fork Road, ☎ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. Directly across from the Virginia Tech campus. Shopping, banking, recreational and dining locations are within walking distance to the hotel. The hotel is also a short drive to downtown Blacksburg.
- Main Street Inn, 205 South Main Street Blacksburg, VA 24060, ☎ . In downtown Blacksburg, the Main Street Inn is a quick and easy walk to campus and anywhere downtown.
Possessions are very safe in Blacksburg. Purses, wallets and miscellaneous gear are often carelessly left behind and returned to their owners. The reputation of 'completely safe' has been marred by two separate shootings and one decapitation, but these are relatively rare occurrences.
Roanoke is about a 45-60 minute drive (depending on traffic) North on I-81. Downtown Roanoke offers plenty of restaurants and shops. Center in the Square, in downtown Roanoke, is home to the History Museum of Western Virginia, The Science Museum of Western Virginia, as well as the Hopkins Planetarium. The Virginia Museum of Transportation has exhibits showcasing buses, cars, planes and trains, including multiple locomotives that were built in Roanoke. The Roanoke Civic Center hosts concerts and performances throughout the year. The Mill Mountain Star and the Mill Mountain Zoo are at the top of Mill Mountain.
There is a bus which leaves from in front of Squires Student Center and goes past the Roanoke Airport and on to the city of Roanoke. $4 (as of 2011).
Abingdon is about an hour and a half South down I-81 from Blacksburg and is home to the Barter Theater, designated the State Theater of Virginia in 1946. The Barter Theater puts on shows year-round and is one of the longest running professional theaters in the nation. The Virginia Creeper Trail, a 35-mile multi-purpose rail trail, runs from Abingdon to Whitetop, and is accessible to bikers, hikers and horse-back riders. Abingdon is also home to the Virginia Highlands Festival, a celebration of Appalachian arts, crafts and traditions.
Also within driving distance of Blacksburg are the sites of many battles from the Civil War, including the Appomattox Court House, the site of the Battle of the Appomattox Court House and where the Confederate Army surrendered on April 9, 1865. See http://www.civilwartraveler.com/EAST/VA/va-valley/morevalley.html for more information on battles that occurred in Southwest Virginia.
|Routes through Blacksburg|
|Mount Sterling ← Princeton ←||W E||→ Christiansburg → Roanoke|