With the fall season fast approaching, many people will be gearing up to view and enjoy the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. The Roanoke, Virginia area has several wonderful places to go and see this glorious process of nature. The author of this article (who happens to be a native of Roanoke) will focus on her favorite four: the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Peaks of Otter, Catawba, and Paint Bank.
The Blue Ridge Parkway
The Blue Ridge Parkway stretches from the Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and is 469 miles long. Permission to build the Parkway was given during the Depression in the 1930’s as a public works project, and it took over fifty years to complete. The Parkway contains several recreation areas and has available many visitor centers, camp grounds, picnic areas, trails, lodges, restaurants, and other such conveniences.
The Parkway has long been known for its fall foliage and provides several areas where one can pull over and enjoy the scenic view whether you are driving, hiking, or biking. If you are interested in spending the night on the parkway, campgrounds are available starting at $16 a night, and lodges, such as the Peaks of Otter, also provide shelter for the evening.
The Peaks of Otter
Located at Milepost 86 on the Parkway near the town of Bedford, Virginia (approximately a 45-minute drive from Roanoke), the Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurantcan be found. This area is a wonderful place to take in the beauty of the changing leaves and the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as see a few species of area wildlife.
The Peaks of Otter Lodge and Restaurant are open year round, and reservations can be made online or by phone. The Lakeview Restaurant, which is the name of the restaurant located in the lodge, offers a view of Abbott Lake and Sharp Top Mountain for you to enjoy while you dine. This establishment is open from 7:30am-8:30pm daily and offers delicious choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Otter CreekRestaurant and Gift Shopis located at Milepost 60.8, exactly twenty-six miles north of the Peaks of Otter Lodge. This eatery is open from May 1 to October 31, and the website suggests that you call for the hours of operation. The gift shop offers numerous goodies for you to take home to commemorate your visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Approximately 30 minutes from Roanoke, one can take a scenic drive up Route 311 (also known as Catawba Valley Road) to Catawba, Virginia. Along this route lies many hiking trails that all belong to the Appalachian Trail. The trails leading to McAfee’s Knob and to Dragon’s Tooth are just a few worthy of mention. This whole area provides a marvelous opportunity for fall leaves lovers to see the brightly colored natural masterpieces.
The Homeplace Restaurant, located at 4968 Catawba Valley Drive, provides delicious home-cooked meals that are served in a way that one would sit down to have a country dinner with his or her family. It is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday for dinner only and Sunday for lunch and dinner. From the front porch of this establishment, you can enjoy a beautiful view of the mountains.
The Crosstrails Bed and Breakfastis located at 5880 Blacksburg Road in Catawba conveniently between McAfee’s Knob and Dragon’s Tooth and near the Homeplace Restaurant. Their website provides several details regarding this quaint mountain abode. This is one of the few lodging accommodations in Catawba, but many hotels and motels are located in nearby Roanoke, Christiansburg, and Blacksburg.
Paint Bank, Virginia
This author’s favorite place to visit during the fall season in order to admire the leaves’ allure is the small town of Paint Bank. To reach Paint Bank, one merely has to continue on Route 311 (you will pass through New Castle before you arrive at Paint Bank).
The Paint Bank General Store and The Swinging Bridge Restaurantlocated inside of the general store offer a host of delicious home-cooked delicacies and unique gift ideas. This author’s favorite dish at the restaurant is the buffalo stew, and her favorite gift ideas from the store are the chocolate candy fashioned in the shapes and colors of rocks and the handmade soaps. The staff is very friendly, and one cannot help but have a warm feeling as if they have just come home. The restaurant earns its name from the fact that a swinging rope bridge is suspended from the ceiling. One can actually cross this bridge if he or she feels brave enough.
The Depot Lodge, which was originally a train depot, is the source of lodging in Paint Bank and hosts rooms that contain rustic, country décor. One can even rent a fully renovated caboose in which to spend the night.
If you are in the Roanoke area and want to enjoy some fantastic fall foliage, consider these four places for your enjoyment.
Blue Ridge Parkway http://www.blueridgeparkway.org
Crosstrails Bed and Breakfast http://www.innsite.com/inns/A1000591.html
The Depot Lodge http://www.depotlodge.com
Homeplace Restaurant http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-home-place-restaurant-catawba
Lakeview Restaurant http://www.peaksofotter.com/rest_lakeview.html
Otter Creek Restaurant http://www.peaksofotter.com/rest_ottercreek.html
Paint Bank General Store and Swinging Bridge Restaurant http://www.paintbankgeneralstore.com
Peaks of Otter Lodge http://www.peaksofotter.com