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Meet Virginia



When I think of Virginia, I think of the early eastern settlements, especially sophisticated Williamsburg. I was still thinking that way when I headed to Roanoke, little realizing that, for many years, it was on the Virginia equivalent of the western frontier. It’s come a long way, baby!

Although there were earlier inhabitants, Roanoke, in the Roanoke Valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, got its kick-start with the railroads in 1881. Citizens of the town Big Lick were so grateful when railroad president Frederick Kimball agreed to create a railroad junction there that they wanted to rename the town in his honor. Kimball instead encouraged them to name the town after the river which flowed nearby. And so, the town became Roanoke.

Today, with a population of 100,000, Roanoke is Virginia’s largest city west of Richmond.

Photo by Elaine Warner

Makin’ Tracks

Once the headquarters of the Norfolk and Western Railway, Roanoke is still an important railroad town and this part of its heritage is amply celebrated. The Norfolk and Western passenger depot was built in 1905 and was redesigned in 1949 by Raymond Loewy, America’s premier industrial designer. Now the building houses the Roanoke Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, the Loewy Gallery and the O. Winston Link Museum.

Exhibits in the Loewy Gallery highlight his work in the transportation field. He not only styled the station, he designed locomotives, automobiles and even worked on Air Force One and SkyLab – to say nothing of his most familiar design, the Coke bottle.

O. Winston Link is considered the master railroad photographer of the 20th century. He captured images of the end of the era of steam trains. This museum is a must for train buffs and photography fans.

Another “must” is the Virginia Museum of Transportation in the historic N & W freight station. The collection comprises thousands of items and over four dozen pieces of rolling stock including the largest collection of diesel locomotives in the South.   Whether you’re a rail fan or not, you’ll love the historic Hotel Roanoke. Built by the railroad in 1882, it started out as a Queen Anne structure with fewer than three dozen rooms. Although some original parts remain, it’s grown into a Quasi-Tudor complex with 331 guest rooms, Florentine marble floors, Czech crystal chandeliers and a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Photo courtesy Roanoke CVB

Around the Town

An elevated walkway takes you from the hotel, over the tracks and into historic downtown Roanoke. A short stroll and you’re in the middle of one of the most unusual markets in America. Going since 1882, the first market building was constructed in 1886 but burned and was replaced in 1922. Inside is a food court with interesting local and ethnic specialties. Lining the street in front of the market are stalls open 363 days a year. Striped awnings stretch from the buildings over the sidewalks and stalls.

Photo by Elaine WarnerThe last thing I expected to find in Virginia was a tiny eatery called the Texas Tavern. This place has been in business since 1930 – and not much has changed. Ambiance? Forget it. Style? Not so you’d notice. There are the usual funny signs, such as “We seat 10,000 – 10 at a time,” and some unintentionally funny ones like the ads for Affordable Septic and Portable Toilet Service and Fresh Cuts Lawncare which flank the wall-mounted menu. So why do people line up on the sidewalk to get into this 10-stool dive? Great hot dogs, super burgers and chili – though I must say those Virginians are pretty wussy when it comes to chile in the chili. I loved this place.

Additions planned for downtown in 2013 are a new history museum, a hands-on science museum, a theater and a museum of African-American culture. They’ll be in good company with the architecturally stunning Taubman Museum of Art. In addition to hosting interesting temporary exhibitions ranging from the wacky and whimsical Wayne White to fabulous Faberge creations, the museum has a respectable permanent collection of works, including several by Thomas Eakins, whose family lived in Roanoke. And there’s a whole room of jewel-like Judith Leiber purses.

Saving the Best for Almost Last

Perhaps the town’s biggest draw is its proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, a 469-mile scenic drive stretching from the Great Smoky Mountains to Shenandoah National Park.

Photo courtesy Roanoke CVB/Bruce Henderson

On just the 60-mile section we explored, there was much more to do than we had time to spend. Virginia’s Explore Park Visitor Center (at mile 115.1) sits on 1,100 acres with fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking and endurance trails. Or you can experience the terrain frontier-style with Spiritriders Covered Wagon Rides.

We stopped for lunch at the Chateau Morrisette Winery. The fare was gourmet with an emphasis on local and organic products. The setting, at 3,500 feet, is inspiring; the facilities, first-class; and the wines are fine.

Mabry Mill (mile 176.1) was a working grist mill from 1910 to 1935, and now it’s a Kodak moment. In addition to the restored mill, there are also exhibits on Appalachian life.

The Blue Ridge Parkway is best enjoyed in short drives. It’s lovely any time of year but particularly stunning in fall. Since the drive is the destination, prepare to go slow and savor the scenery.

Photo courtesy Roanoke CVB

The Star in the Crown

Tulsa has its Golden Driller; Roanoke has its Star. At 88.5 feet tall, the Star, sitting atop Mill Mountain, can be seen for 60 miles. The plaza around it is the perfect spot for a view of the city and the Star draws visitors like light draws moths. Erected 63 years ago by local merchants as a Christmas decoration, it was just too big to store – so they left it up. It’s been said that it “stands as a symbol of the friendliness, industrial and civic progress of Roanoke.” I think it just means the city earned a star for being a stellar destination. For more information, go to visitroanokeva.com.

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
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Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
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Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
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Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

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RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
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A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

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RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
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Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
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2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
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