We’re Kind of a Big Deal Around Here

best of roanoke

When the Roanoke Regional Partnership embarked on a strategy to package the region’s outdoor assets into an economic sector that would attract people, investment and jobs, we knew we were on to something.

The recent results from the “Best of the Blue Ridge 2016” readers’ survey in Blue Ridge Outdoors – the know-all publication covering 10 states – is the latest indication that we’re on the right track. These results show that the community narrative of being one of the best outdoor communities in the United States has taken hold.

Places, businesses and people from the Roanoke Region stood above prestigious competition in a variety of categories. Here’s a rundown of the good news:

Best Place for Outdoor Singles to Live: Roanoke

“With in-town trails and greenway systems, vibrant farm-to-table and craft beer movements, not to mention a low cost of living, what young professional wouldn’t want to relocate to this mid-sized mountain town?”

Best Place to Raise an Outdoor Family: Roanoke

“Roanoke’s big city amenities and small town feel make life in the Star City safe, convenient, and far from boring.”

Most Inspiring Outdoor Person: Pete Eshelman, Roanoke Outside

“Though Pete Eshelman is largely known for his role in fostering outdoor opportunities in Roanoke over the last five years, his relationship with the natural world has been a lifelong one.”

Toughest Race: Blue Ridge Marathon, Roanoke

“There’s a reason they call this beast ‘America’s Toughest Road Marathon.’ Start at 7:30 in the morning and huff and puff your way over 7,430 feet in elevation change. But don’t worry — the views make up for the suffer-fest.”

Best Blue Ridge Festival: Go Fest, Roanoke

“For a jam-packed weekend of outdoor activities, demos, and live performances, head to The Star City in mid-October. This event is a must-do for any Blue Ridge lover, and with free bike shuttles and on-greenway access, there’s no excuse for you to not go outside and play.”

  • Best Appalachian Trail Section: McAfee Knob, Catawba
  • Best Biking Trail: Carvins Cove Trails, Roanoke
  • Best Waterfall: Cascades
  • Best Adventure Race: Wild Gear Chase (Go Fest), Roanoke
  • Best Running Event: Blue Ridge Marathon, Roanoke
  • Best Climbing Gym: River Rock Climbing, Roanoke
  • Best Outdoor Hangout: Parkway Brewing
  • Best Riverside Pub: Wasena City Taproom, Roanoke
  • Best Outdoor Shop: Walkabout Outfitters, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Lexington
  • Best Yoga Studio: Uttara Yoga, Roanoke
  • Best Vineyard: Chateau Morrisette
  • Best Burger: Jack Brown’s Burger Joint
  • Adventurer of the Year: Gordon Wadsworth
  • Best Triathlon: On the Trails Triathlon

Runners up

  • Best Flatwater: Smith Mountain Lake
  • Food & Drink:  Texas Tavern
  • Bike Mechanic: Chris Heslin (UnderDog)
  • Coffee Shop:  Sweet Donkey
  • Best Running Store: Fleet Feet Sports, Roanoke

Honorable mentions

  • A.T. Thru Hiker: Kathryn Herndon
  • Physical Therapist: Tyler Bowersock
  • Rowdiest Fest: GO Fest
  • Swimming Hole: Cascades
  • Paddling River: James River
  • Best Waterfall: Crabtree Falls

You can see the complete list – and how we stack against other communities – from Blue Ridge Outdoors.