Botetourt County: History, Nature, Wine Tasting in Virginia

Friday November 15, 2013 at 6:06 AM | 15 Comments

rocking chairs at Ikenberry Orchards store

Step back in time at Ikenberry Orchards store in Botetourt County, Virginia

Are you visiting Botetourt County for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in “The Tot.”

When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is Roaring Run, but I also take them to Historic Fincastle – for a more local, authentic experience.

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Appalachian Trail.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend The Blue Ridge Parkway for kissing with a view.

The best place to walk the dog is Greenfield Park.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Roaring Run Day Use Area. I recently had a hip replacement and was worried about the level of fitness needed for this hike. It was an easy, glorious 3/4 mile hike along Roaring Run Creek.

 

 

Fall in Botetourt County, Virginia

Apples, pumpkins and wine grapes are plentiful in the fall in Virginia’s Botetourt County.

Food in Botetourt County:

If you are looking for typical Botetourt cuisine, I recommend Town Center Tap House or Three Li’l Pigs- both in Daleville, or Maw & Paw’s in Eagle Rock, Virginia.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is Land of A Thousand Hills coffee shop (1 of 3 open nationwide) – great house blends or local Mill Mountain Coffee – great scones. Both places are located in Daleville, Virginia.

Looking for cheap food in Botetourt County? Try North Star Restaurant in Buchanan, Virginia or The Greenwood Restaurant in Troutville.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Pomegranate Restaurant in Troutville, Virginia.

 

tractor, Fincastle Vineyard

Go wine tasting at Fincastle Vineyard & Winery in Virginia

Outdoors in Botetourt County

Seeing a lot of Botetourt County? Botetourt is best known for great hiking trails and convenient river access. Don’t forget Ikenberry Orchard’s, a 5th generation, family run store. My visit was timed in the fall, so local produce featured dozens of types of apples and plenty of pumpkins.

When you come to Botetourt County, get your picture taken at Kelly’s Real Deals on Route 11 or Troutville Town Park by the Old Red Caboose.

The best vantage points are taken by walking to the top of Tinker Mountain.

The Upper James River Water Trail offers great views and is the best place to watch the seasons change or experience Blue Ridge Parkway. It’s also fun to watch fireworks from the Buchanan Carnival on and around July 4th.

In this part of Virginia, outdoor enthusiasts will want to hike Tinker Cliffs or Appalachian Trail, bike Patterson Creek or Bike 76, horseback ride at Apple Orchard Falls and walk Troutville Town Park or Cherry Blossom Trail.

Roaring Run Falls, Botetourt County, Virginia

Roaring Run Falls in Botetourt County, Virginia

Looking for a little exercise? Walk along the Roaring Run Creek or Cherry Blossom Trail at Greenfield.

If you are a museum lover, Botetourt County’s best museum is Botetourt County Historical Museum in Fincastle, Virginia.

What about night life in Botetourt County? Go dancing at Pomegranate or Daleville Town Center (Spring-Fall) for live music.

The Fincastle Herald & The Botetourt View will keep you posted on what’s happening in and around Botetourt County in Virginia.

You can tell a lot about Botetourt County from visiting artist studios or Buchanan and attending Open Studios – Botetourt or Friday Night Drive-In event.

In the spring you should attend Buchanan’s Civil War History Weekend (held the last weekend in April.)

In the summer you should attend The Buchanan Carnival (around July 4th) and float on The Upper James River Water Trail.

In the fall, go wine tasting on the Wine Trail through Botetourt County, Virginia. Blue Ridge Vineyards is one of the state’s first vineyards, while Virginia Mountain Vineyards is surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains. Then end your day at Fincastle Vineyards & Winery, another small producer featuring Bordeaux blends.

historic iron furnace, Virginia

Visit the historic iron furnace at Roaring Run in the Jefferson National Forest

Historic Botetourt County

Did you know that Botetourt County once stretched all the way to the Mississippi River and that Fincastle Historic District was named to the National Register of Historic Places and The Virginia Landmarks Register in 1969? Plan a visit to Historic Fincastle in the Fall and run in the Bank of Fincastle 5K/10K or plan to attend Open Studios-Botetourt, a free, self-guided tour to artist’s homes around the county.

Come to Botetourt County for The Historic Fincastle Home Tour and Candlelight Christmas Home Tour in Buchanan in December.

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked Gene’s Old & New Antiques & other antiquaries in Botetourt County.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that just outside of Botetourt County, you can visit three of the largest single track trail systems east of the Mississippi – Carvins Cove, Mill Mountain & Explore Park in Virginia.

Have you traveled to Virginia’s Blue Ridge? What are your favorite things to do in Virginia? For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer @NancyDBrown on Twitter and @Botetourt.

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. For additional information on Botetourt County, Virginia, visit http://www.visitbotetourt.com

Stuff Sack – Dog Travel Bed Review

Wednesday November 13, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 2 Comments

dog bed

Stella gives me “the look” on her Molly Mutt dog bed

Pet lovers know that dogs are smart. In fact, they understand many words, hand signals and whistles. I only need to look into my dog’s eyes when I’m getting ready to travel to know that she wants to go with me. It doesn’t matter where I am traveling to, or how long it takes to reach our destination, as long as she is with me and not left home alone.

I recently got “the look” as I prepared for a trip to Carmel, California. With so many pet-friendly hotels available for dog owners, there’s really no reason not to travel with your pet.

Molly Mutt dog bed duvet

Whether used at home or on the road, the Molly Mutt dog bed duvet is made of 100% cotton for easy care, wash and wear. Like me, my Labrador retriever likes to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and explore mountain trails or beach walks. Often times, that means returning home or to the hotel with mud on my boots or sand between my toes; same goes for my dog.

Molly Mutt dog bed

Molly Mutt dog bed duvet review

Dog bed as stuff sack

As a hunting dog, my Labrador retriever actually has her own pair of booties for rough terrain. She is also known to pack sand between her webbed paws and carries the beach with her in her saltwater drenched, sand-covered fur coat.

Insider tip

Another reason to love the Molly Mutt dog bed duvet. Fill the duvet with clean dog towels for your road trip. After your outdoor adventures, throw the dirty towels and duvet in the wash and presto, happy dog, clean towels and clean dog bed.

The Berkeley, California-based company has numerous items for cats and dogs of any size. As our dog fits in the large, sporting breed size, I opted for the huge (36″ x 45″ x 5″) wild horses duvet. This tan dog bed duvet with blue piping retails for $49.95 – less for smaller sizes and is available for purchase online.

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter and follow @mollymutt on Twitter.

Molly Mutt dog bed duvet

Stella and her Molly Mutt Dog bed ready for travel

Where to Buy:
Molly Mutt  (510) 524-2900

675 Cedar Street
Berkeley, California 94710

Molly Mutt provided me (and my pooch) with this dog travel bed for review. All opinions are my own.

Roanoke: Things to See and Do in Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Friday November 8, 2013 at 5:05 AM | 5 Comments

Roanoke Star

Roanoke, Virginia is known as ‘The Star City of the South’

Are you visiting Roanoke, Virginia for the first time? Below is a list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in The Star City and Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

When I have a visitor from out of town the first place they want to see is the Blue Ridge Parkway, but I also take them to the Historic Roanoke City Farmers Market in Downtown Roanoke – for a more local, authentic experience.

 
 
 
 
 

 

Where to go in Roanoke, Virginia

When I want to escape the tourists, my favorite place to visit is Historic Grandin Village and Black Dog Salvage to browse a little.

If this is a romantic trip, I recommend the Roanoke Star and Overlook for kissing with a view.

Are you traveling with your pet? The best place to walk the dog is the Roanoke River Greenway in Virginia.

Museums are wonderful, but if you are traveling with kids, you’ll want to visit Mill Mountain Zoo…be sure to ride the Zoo Choo!  Explore the area with a backpack tour from the Discovery Center or go searching for geocaches!  Or head out to the ballpark and watch the Salem Sox in action.

 

Roanoker Biscuits

Biscuits from The Roanoker Restaurant in Virginia

Food in Roanoke, Virginia

If you are looking for typical Roanoke cuisine, I recommend The Homeplace Restaurant for family style dining with endless fried chicken, country ham, roast beef, pork barbeque (Thursdays only), home cooked vegetables, homemade biscuits,  and homemade cobblers.  This all-you-can-eat restaurant is open Thursday-Sunday. It’s very popular, so be prepared to wait awhile.

The best place to go for coffee & a breakfast treat is The Roanoker Restaurant for locally roasted H&C Coffee and famous biscuits featured in Southern Living’s book “Off the Eaten Path.”

Looking for cheap food in Roanoke, Virginia, go to The Roanoke Weiner Stand or Famous Anthony’s.

Texas Tavern is the spot for late night dining since 1930 – there’s even a walk up window if you’re on the go!  This restaurant is famous for their chile and cheesy western and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Hotel Roanoke

Virginia’s Historic Hotel Roanoke is known for their peanut soup and spoonbread.

For an expensive, yet quality meal, go to Alexander’s or The Regency Room, located inside the Historic Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center – don’t miss their signature dishes – peanut soup and spoonbread.

Seeing a lot of stars in Roanoke? Roanoke is known as ‘The Star City of the South’ and boasts a 100 foot neon star at the top of Mill Mountain that can be seen for 60 miles.

When you come to Roanoke, get your picture taken on the green rooftop of Center in the Square or in front of the massive steam engines at the Virginia Museum of Transportation.

 

Steam train 1218

Train buffs and children will want to visit the Virginia Museum of Transportation

Roanoke outdoors

Roanoke Mountain offers great views of the Blue Ridge Parkway and is the best place to watch or experience all four seasons.

In Roanoke outdoor enthusiasts will want to hike, walk or bike miles of trails on Carvin’s Cove, the Roanoke River Greenway and the Appalachian Trail.

Looking for a little exercise?  Rent a bike from UnderDog Bikes, located on the Roanoke River Greenway or go rock climbing at The River Rock Climbing Gym.
Roanoke museums

If you are a museum lover, Roanoke’s Center in the Square is home to the Science Museum of Western Virginia (don’t miss the Butterfly Garden), the History Museum of Western Virginia and the Harrison Museum of African American Culture and nearby Taubman Museum of Art.

Looking for exciting night life? Go dancing at Martin’s Downtown Bar & Grill or visit Kirk Avenue Music Hall or Blue 5 for live music.

Beneath the Roundhouse

Beneath the Roundhouse is a steel sculpture by Edwin White.

You can tell a lot about Roanoke from visiting and watching the multitude of festivals from the Strawberry Festival, Salem Fair to Dickens of a Christmas.

In the spring you should attend the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade & Shamrock Festival.

In the summer you should attend the Historic Roanoke City Farmers Market for the best in local produce, plants and homemade goods.

Did you know that Roanoke, the largest city on the Blue Ridge Parkway, was voted Best Trail Town by the readers of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine?  With the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Appalachian Trail, and over 70 city parks and greenways just minutes from downtown, Roanoke attracts flocks of outdoor enthusiasts.

Plan a visit to Roanoke in the fall for Go Outside Festival and be sure to take a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway to experience the beautiful fall colors.

Come to Roanoke for Dickens of a Christmas in the winter – held the first three Friday’s in December in Downtown Roanoke and don’t miss “Fashions for Evergreens” at the Historic Hotel Roanoke, which runs from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

O. Winston Link, photographer

Railroad photographer O. Winston Link

Insider Tip: Check out the often over-looked O. Winston Link Museum in Roanoke, highlighting the railroad photography of O. Winston Link.

I’ll bet you didn’t know he chose to take most of his photographs at night and that it could take anywhere from a day to a week to set up the lighting to capture just one photograph.

Just outside of Roanoke you can take a scenic drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway and have lunch at the Peaks of Otter Lodge if you head north or trek south on the Parkway to Chateau Morrisette Winery and Mabry Mill.

What are your favorite things to do in Virginia’s Roanoke Valley?

Related Post:
Virginia’s Botetourt County

Photos and YouTube video by Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau.