Road Trip #2: Virginia Is for Lovers and Everybody Loves Downtown Roanoke

Approximately two hours from Princeton, you can find an oasis of good times in Downtown Roanoke. Take 460 East to 81 North. Then take exit 143 onto 581 South until you see the vintage and historic Dr. Pepper or H & C Coffee sign.

Any downtown exit from there will lead you into such a thriving, stimulating hub of artsy shops and good food, that you won’t want to leave. I hadn’t been to the actual downtown area of Roanoke since I was a child, opting for the malls in that area during my teenage years as the downtown areas everywhere fell into a state of disarray and abandonment. I am happy to report that this downtown is once again flourishing, as much as it could be, given our present economy.

It was a sight for sore eyes, eye candy that traveled from the eye, to the brain, and then into the psyche. Oh, Downtown Roanoke, how I love thee. Let me count the ways:

The food! Fresh veggies and fruits sold outside from local vendors; interesting restaurants, including many ethnic varieties; lots of choices about what to eat and whether to eat indoors or out. The shopping! Shops galore offering unique clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories, and home and gift items. No large chain stores! Now, one would think that what I have just described might be a little pricey. No, not necessarily. “Boutique” is not synonymous with “overpriced” or “expensive” here. Yes, some stores were a little high-priced, but most of them were not, and many were having great sales on the day I visited.

The Arts! You can see that the downtown is full of artistic inspiration at every turn. I’m saving the Taubman Art Museum for another day.

Have I convinced you to go? I hope so. I hated to leave. But the sentiment of the sign from The Gift Niche eases the pain somewhat.

Sign in the Gift Niche on Market Street

I’m smiling and trying to pass my smile on to you. Is this a preview of the renaissance of all downtowns? I certainly hope so. Why? Because I love to see the character of a town interwoven with what it has to offer the consumer.

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