Roanoke, known as The Star City, is a beautiful mountain town located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This family friendly city is well known for biking and hiking and is a perfect weekend getaway for the whole family.
Where to Stay in Roanoke:
The Hotel Roanoke is my first choice for a hotel stay in Roanoke and where we intended to stay before buying Bex. It’s right in the center of town and within walking distance to a number of restaurants. And the Lick Run Greenway bike path goes right around the property.
If you want to camp in Roanoke, Explore Park’s campground is the place to do it. Bring your RV or rent a pod cabin or yurt. You’ll be less than 20 minutes from downtown or from Mill Mountain.
5 Things To Do in Roanoke with Kids:
Roanoke has over 30 miles of paved paths for biking, walking, and running. We enjoyed the Roanoke River Greenway, which follows the river and runs all the way across the city.
We originally set out to do the .7 mile Roanoke River Trail, but that portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway was under construction. We ended up at the Mayflower Creek parking area (GPS coordinates: 37.243795, -79.856468). The trail to the right led down towards the Roanoke River, connecting up with the Deer Run Trail, which we followed to the River Walk Trail and down to the water.
The Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain is one of the most iconic spots in the city. Just a short drive up the mountain and a short walk from the parking lot lead you to an overlook platform below the star. You’ll also find a discovery center, wildflower garden, and a zoo on the mountain, as well as two giant bike sculptures that would make for a fun photo op.
It has a playground, a bridge, a picnic shelter, ball fields and courts, and convenient parking. It doesn’t get much more family-friendly than that! The playground had several whimsical touches that our kids really enjoyed. You can also access the riverbed near the bridge, which feels very quiet and secluded. And this is just one of several parks in the center of town!
With so much green space throughout the city, Roanoke is the perfect place for a picnic lunch. If you don’t feel like packing a picnic basket, I recommend Scratch Biscuit Company for either breakfast or lunch. The egg and cheese biscuit and fried apples pleased the boys while the grown-ups enjoyed a Nashville hot biscuit. And it’s a small place, so calling ahead with a carryout order is a win-win!
Other Activities for Families in Roanoke:
Virginia Museum of Transportation: See displays of planes, trains, and cars in the historic freight depot. I am really sorry we missed this, because the train room looks amazing! Closed Monday and Tuesday.
The Trolley: Roanoke has a free trolley system, the Star Line Trolley, which runs along much of Jefferson Street through the center of town.
Roanoke Postcard Mural: If your kids like to pose for photos, the Greetings from Roanoke mural is on the side of the Gill Memorial Building at 709 S Jefferson Street.
Blue Cow Ice Cream: Because it’s delicious.
For kids ages 7 and up: Treetop Quest is a family friendly adventure course with adventurous obstacles. 4-6 year olds can do the Urban Challenge Course and the Net Trampoline and ages 7+ can do the 3 levels of family courses.
Make it a Road Trip:
If you want to combine your time in Roanoke with other cities, here are some Virginia Road Trip Itineraries:
4 Day History Lovers Virginia Road Trip
4 Day Hiking & Off-Roading Virginia Itinerary
Charlottesville 3 Day Itinerary
Lynchburg 3 Day Itinerary
Roanoke with Kids
Big Levels Off-Roading
3 Virginia Campgrounds