Visiting Blue Ridge Parkway

Exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway

Commonly heralded as one of America’s most spectacular road trips, the Blue Ridge Parkway, spanning over 450 miles from the Cherokee Reservation in Cherokee, Virginia to the entrance of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. This is a trip you will not want to rush though, as the curving roads and spectacular scenery demand that you take your time exploring the area. Below is a short list of just some of the highlights you will find along the way!

What to See and Do in Blue Ridge Parkway

The Natural Bridge: Located on the South Lee Highway in Natural Bridge, this is where the Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains meet. It is also the location of a natural phenomenon that has captured the minds of artists, tourists and countless others alike, the picture perfect natural arch spanning Cedar Creek. Aptly named the Natural Bridge, this place draws many visitors each year. You can reach this awe-inspiring spot by descending approximately 130 steps to access the Cedar Creek Nature Trail. There is plenty of other things to see and do at this spot as well, including a walk through the Natural Bridge Caverns or visiting the Monacan Indian Living History Village, which strives to spread awareness of the original inhabitants of the area.

The Mill Mountain Zoo: Located just outside of Roanoke, the Mill Mountain Zoo is less of a zoo in a traditional sense and more of an animal sanctuary. This place emphasizes conservation and education above simply making a profit, and all of their animals are provided with as close to possible of a natural environment and the best care possible. This is a non-profit organization, which elevates the animals’ needs to the absolute highest standards. A refreshing variation on zoos where animals are visually stressed in their location, the animals here instead go about their business as if no one was watching, and develop very close bonds with their human colleges. Not surprisingly, there are many different endangered species to view here, including snow leopards, red wolves and cougars.

The Blowing Rock: Located at milepost 291.9, this area is well known for its strong northwestern winds. These wind currents are particularly strong near Blowing Rock, a cliff which is situated thousands of feet above the John’s River. In fact, these wind currents are so strong that lighter objects which as tossed over the side are said to return to their sender! North Carolina’s oldest tourist attraction is an absolute must see for everyone who ventures into the area!

The Biltmore Estate: (1 Lodge Street, Asheville) Built by George Washington Vanderbilt II from 1889 – 1895, this 250-room mansion sits atop nearly 8,000 acres, making it the largest home in all of the Unites States! Open to the public year-round, the sights range far beyond the home itself, including an onsite lagoon, working winery and meticulously maintained gardens.

 

Where to Eat in Blue Ridge

Mabry Mill: (Meadows of Dan, Virginia) Located outside of Roanoke, this is an absolute must stop for some of the most delicious breakfast you will sample anywhere! Well known for their homemade pancake selection, you can choose from everything from buckwheat, cornmeal, sweet potato or buttermilk pancakes, all of which can be combined into an individual sampler. If a savory morning meal is more your style, opt for the sampler, which includes eggs, freshly baked biscuits and a choice of meat paired with home fries or grits.

Rockfish: (1402 Grandin Road, Roanoke) Open for dinner Wednesday through Saturday and for brunch and dinner on Sundays, this is one of the most popular spots to sit and relax while enjoying some extraordinary food and drink! Known for friendly, prompt service and a relaxed setting, you can also enjoy live music here during select times. For dinner, you can start the night off with freshly shucked oysters paired with a delicious mignonette or classic gumbo before satisfying your hunger with main courses that range from crab cakes paired with grits and collard greens to a succulent duck breast served with arugula and red wine au jus.

Tupelo Honey: (12 College Street, Asheville) This place in the heart of downtown Roanoke prides itself on serving classic, delicious southern cuisine in an environment that warm and down to earth but still held to impeccable standards regarding service and food quality. The avocado toast drizzled with red chili honey is the perfect thing for brunch, but if you come here for lunch or dinner, go for the blackberry habanero ribs, blackened catfish or the restaurants star dish, shrimp and grits. Those who prefer a meatless diet will not be disappointed here either, as they have the option of choosing between a grilled cauliflower steak paired with rainbow chard and mushrooms as well as a salt-roasted beet salad!

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