Explore the region’s man-made wonders and most intriguing sites. From one of the oldest covered bridges in the nation to memorials reflecting those who have shaped our world, the Roanoke Region has plenty to explore.
Landmarks and Historical Sites
Without even looking for them, you’ll find some of the Roanoke Region’s most celebrated and recognizable symbols.
- The Roanoke Star is an illuminated, 100 foot-tall neon star built in 1949 on top of Mill Mountain. Indians wandering between the parallel ridges of the Allegheny Mountains named the valley “Shenandoah,” meaning “daughter of the stars.” Visible throughout a 20-mile radius, the Roanoke Star is the source of the city’s nickname: “Star City of the South.”
- Fincastle Courthouse was built in 1848. The original building was designed by Thomas Jefferson. As the former governmental outpost to an area spanning from Botetourt to the Mississippi River, genealogists from around the country can find original, primary source documents located in the County Clerks.
- Smith Mountain Lake Dam, built to generate electricity, is responsible for maintaining Smith Mountain Lake.
- H&C Coffee Sign and Dr. Pepper Sign are neon signs representing Roanoke’s commercial past and help define Roanoke City’s downtown skyline.
- Buchanan Swinging Bridge is a narrow, swinging bridge stretching across the James River. Though built in 1938, its piers date to the mid-1800s.
- Humpback Bridge is a 100-foot-long, single-span structure that is four feet higher at its center than it is at either end, hence its name: “Humpback.” Built in 1857, it is the oldest covered bridge in Virginia.
- Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center was built in 1882 for travelers on the railroad and is known as the Grand Old Lady. Hosting national and international leaders, celebrities, and surviving a great fire, the Hotel Roanoke remains open and active in downtown Roanoke.
Historic Districts and Sites
Throughout the Roanoke Region you will find historic neighborhoods, buildings, and areas.
- Historic Grandin Village, located just two miles from downtown Roanoke, is nestled in a charming 1920s’ neighborhood featuring shops and restaurants ranging from elegant to quirky, outdoor dining, live music and nightlife, natural foods, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, local artisans, fine furniture, vintage clothing, a bookstore, and more.
- Grandin Theatre is a restored 1930s movie theater showing popular new releases, independent films, midnight movies, and classics.
- Historic Town of Buchanan served as a center of commerce in the Colonial Era. The town retains a blend of historic structures spanning almost two centuries, unique shops, and a variety of restaurants.
- The Buchanan Theatre is Botetourt County’s oldest standing theater. Its notable exterior features include the Art Deco concrete details on the facade, the neon sign, and a freestanding ticket booth. Inside, one finds a pressed metal ceiling, knotty pine paneling and a curved wall around the concession area which features a 1950s era popcorn machine and candy counter.
- Rocky Mount has been the seat of Franklin County since 1786 and features charming old buildings and churches, restaurants, art galleries, and unique shops.
- Farmers Market at Citizens Square is an open-air wooden shelter with a central stage. Erected in 1998 by the town and county to provide a venue for agricultural sales and a community setting for special events, it offers fresh produce, home baked goods, arts and crafts, plants, and a variety of seasonal items.
- Franklin County Freight Station and Depot Welcome Center is a late-nineteenth century train station. Recently renovated, it now serves as a welcome center for the region.
- Franklin County Court House, built in 1910, has seen more bootleg trials than any other in the nation as the district court of the Moonshine Capital of the United States.
- Historic Downtown Vinton is a charming town center featuring locally owned businesses, shops, restaurants, and more. Festivals and community events take place throughout the year.
- Vinton Farmers Market is an open-air market featuring fresh produce, arts, crafts, and other goods.
- Vinton Town Clock is the most recognizable landmark in Vinton’s downtown. It once stood in front of A.J. Rankin’s Jewelry Store but now can be found at Vinton’s new municipal building.
- Historic Roanoke City Market District is the vibrant center of downtown Roanoke featuring historic buildings, live theater, museums, art galleries, shopping, a variety of restaurants, and nightlife.
- The Historic Farmers Market in Roanoke City, established in 1882, is Virginia’s oldest open-air farmers market in continuous operation and offers fresh produce, arts and crafts from throughout the region. Located on Market Street, the market is also the location for several festivals, concerts, and community events.
- The Historic Market Building offers an international food court as well as a variety of popular shops. Constructed in 1886, the Market Building has long served as downtown’s central landmark.
- Center in the Square is home to the Science Museum of Western Virginia, the History Museum of Southwestern Virginia, Mill Mountain Theater, and a gift shop.
- Roanoke Weiner Stand is an icon of the 1950’s. Offering hot dogs plain or with chili, French fries, and a drink, the Weiner Stand continues to be one of Roanoke most popular lunch destinations.
- Roanoke’s Historic Fire Station #1, constructed in 1907, once served as the area’s volunteer fire department. With its unique architecture and old bell tower, the fire station now offers visitors a glimpse of how old firehouses worked.
- Downtown Salem combines 200 years of history with a variety of unique restaurants, shops, arts, and more.
- Roanoke College, founded in 1842, is the second oldest Lutheran college in the United States.
- Salem Farmers Market constructed the Salem Market in 1992 and is located in the heart of downtown Salem. Its vendors offer fresh produce, home-baked goodies, fresh cut flowers, honey, eggs, greenery, jams, and jellies. Special events are held throughout the year.
- Covington was established as a city in 1952 but has a history dating more than 200 years as a commercial center for the Alleghany Highlands area.
- C&O Depot is a former passenger rail depot restored in the City of Covington. Featuring unique architectural details such as its terra cotta roof, the depot now is a center for community events.
- Clifton Forge, the only place in the United States with its name, was incorporated in 1884 and represents over 100 years of railway history and offers shopping, restaurants, and unique town center.
- The Masonic Theatre is a three-story Beaux Arts brick building with a plastered facade, a cove ceiling lobby and an original performance hall with a stage and balcony. Once the oldest continuously operating theater in Virginia, it now serves as the Alleghany Highlands Center for the Performing Arts.
- Gainsboro Historic District is the oldest neighborhood in Roanoke City.
- St. Andrews Catholic Church, State and National Landmark sits on top of a hill looking over downtown Roanoke. Its unique yellow brick and eloquent architecture has been recognized nationally.
- Old Southwest Historic District is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Roanoke is now home to residential population, business, chruches, restaurants, and the Highland Park High Learning Center.
Monuments and Memorials
Throughout the Roanoke Region monuments and memorials have been erected in honor of regional and national historical figures.
- Booker T. Washington National Monument is the home of the famous educator, orator, author, and African-American leader. This monument and museum is a celebration of his life and impact on American history.
- Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge, located in downtown Roanoke, is a dedication to Dr. King for his civil rights leadership. His monument is erected at the north side of the bridge.
- The National D-Day Memorial, commemorates the heroes who fought on D-Day. Bedford County was home to the most soldiers from any single locality to fight in Normandy. Located in Bedford off highway 460.
- Botetourt Artillery Monument was built honor of those who enlisted in the Botetourt Artillery during the American Civil War.
- Vinton War Memorial, located in Vinton, is a social hall built to commemorate victims and veterans of past wars.
- Statue of General Andrew Lewis, located in Salem, honors one of the Region’s first pioneers and settlers. Lewis was a major military figure in the American Revolution.
- Fallen Firefighter, located in downtown Roanoke, honors those who have suffered and given their lives to duty.
- Gibson Morrissey, Roanoke Symphony Orchestra Conductor, is a monument constructed in honor of one of Roanoke’s most culturally influential figures, located at the Roanoke Civic Center.
- Mayor’s Monument is unique because no one knows why it was built. It has been dedicated to Roanoke City’s past mayors and is located in Elmwood Park.
- Officer Down, located by Roanoke City’s police department, is a monument honoring those who have died in the line of duty.
- Roanoke Valley War Memorial is a marble memorial dedicated to veterans and victims of past wars, located in downtown Roanoke.
- World War I Memorial, in Salem, was constructed in honor of World War I veterans from Roanoke County and Salem.
- Roanoke Soldiers Memorial, a plaque on a large rock erected by the Daughters of the Revolution in honor of veterans of Roanoke who served in World War I.
- Salem 9/11 Memorial, on West Street in Salem, honors the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.