Curio Collection Local Guide, Roanoke

We sent Yodeler Reema Desai to The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio Collection by Hilton to experience the beautiful hotel, shoot some photos and create a Roanoke, Virginia Curio Travel Guide. With The Hotel Roanoke’s beautiful setting, and being just a few hours from Washington D.C. or North Carolina, the hotel has a variety of great spaces for weddings, parties, meetings or just a perfect getaway. Reema’s Travel Guide is full of unique Roanoke tips and local secrets, just for you.

Name: Reema Desai

Occupation: Photographer

Preoccupation: Petting every dog I can!

Can you sum up Roanoke? What used to be a historic railroad town is now a city with a burgeoning arts scene, great food, and every type of outdoor activity imaginable just a stone’s throw away. There is such a juxtaposition of old and new here but the city has remained true to its roots while evolving. While the downtown area is lively and full of restaurants, markets, live music and events, the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance are a reminder that it’s easy to escape into nature when the mood strikes.

What is the best thing about Roanoke? My favorite thing about Roanoke is that the city has remained loyal to its historic past while still innovating and moving forward. Though there are lots of new things happening in Roanoke, a walk around the downtown area completely transports you back in time. Beautiful brick buildings, the Tudor-style Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio Collection by Hilton in the distance and the pride you sense in locals are all just part of what make it so charming.

What is a perfect day in Roanoke? I’d start off with a coffee on a patio somewhere before throwing on sneakers and heading out to explore the Blue Ridge MountainsMill Mountain is close to downtown and is the perfect escape from city life with a number of trails to explore. After your hike, head to Tuco’s Taqueria for a well-deserved lunch (the chorizo tacos are fantastic). Nearby Tuco’s is the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Head there and check out the Railyard to see some of the old, restored locomotives. Alternatively, a visit to the Taubman Museum of Art would also make for a fun afternoon if arts and culture are more your speed. Round out your day with a dinner and drinks at Lucky Restaurant, one of Roanoke’s local hot spots.

What are the people like in Roanoke? The people in Roanoke are overwhelmingly kind, proud of their city and excited to share recommendations with visitors. There is a lot of Southern charm to be found here, that’s for sure.

If Roanoke were a person, who would it be? Definitely a historic figure of some sort!

If a friend were visiting Roanoke, what would you suggest he or she do? One of my favorite things about The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center was the veranda complete with rocking chairs… so let’s start there! Have a lazy morning there sipping coffee, enjoying Blue Ridge views and soaking in the relaxed, Southern vibe. From there, a dip in the hotel pool is a must.

After a swim, head out into the city for a stroll through the Historic Roanoke City Market (open every day) to grab seasonal produce or browse through art made by local artisans. Stock up on some bread, cheese and a bottle of local Virginia wine, and drive out to the Natural Bridge State Park next. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic amongst the beautiful Blue Ridge scenery.

After you’ve had your fill of the outdoors for the day, head back and get ready for dinner! There’s no better spot for a long, truly memorable and distinctive meal in Roanoke than the Regency Room. Sit outside and make sure to ask for Drew, one of the most wonderful, engaging waiters we’ve ever dined with! If you aren’t in a food coma by this point, head for a walk downtown, and pop into Fork in the Alley for a nightcap.




Roanoke, Virginia

Best place to eat:

The Regency Room

Best place to drink:

Have a margarita at Tuco’s Taqueria

Best place to shop:

The Historic Roanoke City Market on a weekend morning is pretty wonderful. There are lots of fantastic vendors selling everything from fresh flowers to handmade wooden stools.

Best outdoor activity:

It’s difficult to narrow down just one outdoor activity in Roanoke, as the city is deeply centered on the countless number of trails, waterfalls and hikes nearby in the Blue Ridge Mountains. If you only have time for just one, I’d suggest driving to Natural Bridge State Park. There you’ll find Natural Bridge, a 215-foot-tall limestone gorge that is without a doubt one of the most beautiful places in Virginia. I’d seen photos of it before, but seeing it in person was truly breathtaking.

Best indoor activity:

A visit to the Taubman Museum is a must! The museum is free to visitors and it’s the perfect spot to spend a rainy afternoon. The architecture of the building is beautiful and the exhibits are varied and thought-provoking.

Local tip:

You don’t have to trek far to be in the center of nature. Mill Mountain Park — home of the Roanoke Star, the world’s largest freestanding illuminated man-made star — has more than 10 miles of multi-use trails and is a quick drive from the heart of Roanoke.

Best place to stay:

The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio Collection by Hilton