Salem Named Virginia’s Best City to Live In

When it comes to living in Virginia, people have lots of choices: the mountains or the beach, urban or rural, big city or small town? When taken as a whole, however, some places are better than others when looking at the data. If you are looking for the best place to live in the state, you can look in your own backyard: Salem, Virginia.

Salem was recently named the Best City to Live in Virginia by the website This is not some listicle based on casual observations; the rankings were based on data from five key considerations: violent crime, commuting, income, college education, and restaurants per capita. 

Nearby Christiansburg took the number two spot, but no one topped Salem. 

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Salem is bordered by the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains, offering spectacular views for those who call it home. If crime is a concern, you won’t find a safer city on our list, and the average commute time here is among the shortest. Residents can take in the area’s natural beauty at local attractions like Natural Bridge, Dixie Caverns, and Smith Mountain Lake.

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Classic Roanoke Hike Named a Top Backpacking Trip

Dragons ToothWith over 600 miles of trails running through the Roanoke Region, including the most scenic portions of the Appalachian Trail, it is no wonder the area is known as a hiker’s paradise. One classic Roanoke Region hike in particular recently caught the eye of online outside recreation publication, Adventure Journal

A hike traversing McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs on the Appalachian Trail was named to the Journal’s listing of the 20 Best Overnight Backpacking Trips. The “Triple Crown” hike includes McAffee, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragons Tooth, and is considered the most scenic section of the A.T. in Virginia, and possibly along the entire 2,100-mile trail. The trip was one of only three in the Southeast, and joined iconic backcountry trips from around the U.S., including Mt. Whitney and Half Dome in California, Longs Peak in Colorado, and Hawaii’s Kalalau Trail.

Here is what author Brendan Leonard said about the trip:

Virginia’s “Triple Crown”—McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, and Dragons Tooth—are the three most iconic views along the Virginia stretch of the Appalachian Trail. To hike all of them, it’s a minimum 28-mile hike (with a car shuttle), or 37-mile loop. To get two of them, McAfee Knob (the rock outcrop that’s one of the most photographed spots on the AT) and Tinker Cliffs, it’s a far more manageable 13-mile weekend hike traversing Catawba and Tinker mountains and overnighting at the Campbell Shelter.

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Le Tour de Roanoke Unites Foodies and Cyclists

Back in April, we wrote about the new season of le Tour de Roanoke, the City Parks and Rec program that tours Roanoke by bike, stopping at various restaurants for a bite along the way. It’s a very cool way to tour the city, get a little exercise, and enjoy some great food. 

Le Tour cyclists

The atmosphere at last month’s Tour was great. Meeting at UnderDog Bikes, the group was an eclectic mix of food lovers, bicycling lovers, beginners, and experts. It was very cool to see such a diverse group of people all participating in the same outdoor activity. It was truly a uniting experience, and something the parks and rec department has been emphasizing recently. 

Le Tour cyclists

“We have been using programs like Hiking and the Homeplace, SUP Yoga, and le Tour de Roanoke as a marketing tool to get people exposed to something new and unique, and then the other programs offered by the Outdoor Section,” explained Parks & Rec Outdoor Education Coordinator Patrick Boas, who started the program last year. “The thought process behind this was, we promote what Roanoke has to offer as ‘the procuct’ and put our programs in the mix.” 

taco hand

Each stop was an opportunity to mingle and get a different perspective on both the outdoor and food scenes in the Roanoke Region. It’s also a great opportunity to explore new restaurants and foods.

“Something that has shocked me the most about this event is that after each tour I will have one or two people come up to me and say in many different ways, ‘I’ve lived here in Roanoke for X amount of years and never knew this restaurant existed. What a great way to explore and see a new side of Roanoke,'” Boas said. “I take this as a huge compliment and hope to continue getting this reaction from my new friends on the tour.” 


The tour is held monthly; pre-registration is required and spots fill up fast. The August tour will take place on August 19, and will include stops at 1906 Ale House, Blue 5, and Sweet Donkey Coffee.

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City Launches Solarize Roanoke Program

Solarize RoanokeYou may see more solar panels going up on roof-tops throughout the City of Roanoke due to the new Solarize Roanoke program. 

The program is a partnership between the City of Roanoke, Community Housing Partners (CHP), local solar installers, Freedom First Credit Union, and local community members, and is designed to make solar energy affordable and accessible to homeowners. The basic premise is that when people sign up for the program, they get a free assessment of their solar needs and capacity then are able to purchase a system through the program at a discount and install the panels through a local contractor.  

For more details on the Solarize Roanoke initiative, check out the press release below and visit

Press release:

Roanoke, VA – At a press conference earlier today, the city officially launched Solarize Roanoke, a program designed to make solar energy affordable and accessible to homeowners. Solarize Roanoke is a partnership between the City of Roanoke, Community Housing Partners, local solar installers, Freedom First Credit Union, and local community members. The program will run until Sept. 30. Homeowners living in the following zip codes are eligible to participate: 24011, 24012, 24013, 24014, 24015, 24016, 24017, 24018, and 24019.

In order to make solar cost competitive with standard electricity, Solarize Roanoke combines discounts on solar installations and a 30-percent federal tax credit with affordable long-term financing. The loan payments on a solar system for a typical house can be roughly equal to monthly electricity savings, meaning the overall cost of electricity changes very little, and homeowners are buffered from increases in electricity prices in the future.

When a homeowner is interested in going solar, Solarize Roanoke organizers first conduct a satellite site assessment to determine if the roof is a good candidate for solar panels – looking for orientation, trees and other obstructions. From there, a solar installer conducts a free solar site assessment to determine how large or small of a system is needed to provide power for the home and how much it costs.

The City of Roanoke offers a tax reduction in addition to the federal tax credits for all city residents purchasing solar equipment. By providing a bill of sale for properly installed solar equipment, a homeowner is eligible for a real estate property tax exemption for a portion of the purchase. This exemption is valid for five years thus adding to the homeowner’s savings.

A recently concluded Solarize program in Blacksburg resulted in at least 50 solar contracts on homes. Other communities around the state have followed suit, including Richmond, Charlottesville, and Arlington County.

Solarize Roanoke is a key component of the city’s wider efforts to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The public is invited to an event on Tuesday, July 22 at 6:00 p.m. at Mountain View Recreation Center to learn more about the Solarize Roanoke Program; additional community meeting times are listed online at or

For more information, contact Mason Cavell, program administrator for Solarize Roanoke at 540-267-6137, or by e-mail at