The Art Museum of Western Virginia features primarily pieces from the 19th century on, and despite the museum’s name, with exhibitions of both regional and national works. Los Angeles architect Randall Stout, who worked under the world-famous Frank Gehry, recently designed a new 75,000-square foot building to house the growing collection of permanent works.

The Science Museum of Western Virginia, which comes with its own planetarium, has included various exhibits such as laser shows, lunar rock displays and a reef tank. The museum even has special party programs and group tours suitable for children.

Created in 1957, the History Museum of Western Virginia works with the O. Winston Link Museum (which has a collection of historical photographs) to develop special exhibits and community programs. There are artifacts dating to antiquity of native peoples that settled the Blue Ridge area, as well as more recent documents such as land grants, Civil War mementos and Victorian-era relics that detail the city’s history.

Thanks to the tremendous impact of the railroad industry on the city’s founding and development, the Virginia Museum of Transportation is perhaps the best-known museum in town. It houses several locomotives and automobiles from the early 1900s and a few permanent and rotating exhibits.

Roanoke also offers some beautiful natural attractions. The Blue Ridge Parkway runs between the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks and makes for a very scenic drive. There are excellent views of the Blue Ridges from many places along the way.