Stuff to Do in Roanoke

I recently had a client complain to me that there’s just nothing to do in our city. And it’s a complaint that I remember hearing a lot when I was a kid. Growing up around here, I think I even made that complaint from time to time because I’m certain I eventually took things for granted around town.

I’m here to tell you, there’s plenty to do in Roanoke. We have a zoo that sits on top of a mountain. It’s not big, but it’s there. The Appalachian Trail rolls right through this area, so there are plenty of hiking opportunities nearby. That’s not even counting the various greenways that have been developed in recent years.

We have museums, too. And, sure, if you try to compare the Science Museum of Western Virginia with what you’d find in Richmond or Washington, D.C., you’re going to come away disappointed. But our little science museum has plenty of hands on activities for the kids and is interesting enough for a fun afternoon.

When the city decided to build a new art museum that opened in 2008, I was less than impressed. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the building itself. I get what the designer was going for, it just doesn’t fit in downtown. But I’ve been in the museum a number of times and I’m generally impressed by the artwork on display, as well as, again, the hands on activities provided for kids.

And then there’s the Roanoke Pinball Museum and the Starcade. You go in, pay your admission fee, and have unlimited play on classic pinball machines and arcade games for the entire day. You can even come and go as you please, with continued access to the games until they close for the day.

The Pinball Museum has the really old pinball machines with the simplest, basic obstacles under the glass. But it also has the newer pinball machines that made their way into arcades in the ’90s and 2000’s, based on licensed properties like Indiana Jones, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters.

Roanoke Starcade is just like what you remember an arcade in the ’80s being. Rows of old arcade cabinets with classics like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, and even Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. There’s an air hockey table and skee ball available. And just where you think the Starcade ends, there’s another room with more games, including the modern “classic” versions of old home consoles. You know, the ones that come with 30 or more classic video games loaded onto them. Yeah, they have those hooked up to TVs along the back wall.

Nothing to do in Roanoke… Sure.

But maybe this is just me, assuming there’s plenty to do because I’m an introvert who is, more often than not, content to sit at home with a book or a good TV show to binge.

What do you think? Does the above sound like there’s plenty to do? I know there’s more than what I just listed. These were just off the top of my head. And what about where you live? Do people complain that there’s nothing to do? Do you complain that there’s nothing to do? Let me know in the comments!

Feature Photo by Kyle Johnson on Unsplash


4 thoughts on “Stuff to Do in Roanoke

  1. While that pinball museum isn’t my type of thing, it definitely sounds super cool!!! I love when you get all day admission somewhere and can come and go as you please. Our hockey hall of fame is like that. I took the toddler and he loved it! But we left to have lunch and we were able to go back in for another (3rd) run around the place until he started getting too cranky pants to be out in public anymore hehe

    Your city sounds super cool!! Like a great place to live and visit

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is madness.

    I’ve spent 25+ years visiting Roanoke from the UK sometimes 3 times a year and always had a great time. I used to love visiting the science museum downtown, various arcades and there was a great bowling alley over on Williamson. Plus there was always a visit to the Star and probably more if I sat at thought about it!

    Liked by 1 person

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