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Living and Studying in Roanoke

Community - Living in Roanoke
Roanoke at dusk as seen from Mill Mountain Star - photo courtesy of Roanoke Regional Partnership

"Trains built Roanoke. Science saved it," headlined a September 2016 article in Politico Magazine about the city that Virginia Tech Carilion calls home. Roanoke is going through a revitalization, capitalizing on the region's great outdoor amenities, while attracting businesses to the region.

The Roanoke Regional Parnership captured our sentiments about the area in which we live and learn in this new Work Hard, Play Hard, Live Easy video.

As “Play" by Saturn Missiles licensed by Audiosocket plays in the background, there are visuals of a bike, and a rider getting dressed with a helmet and biking shirt. 

Visuals of text shows as the garage door opens

  • Big enough
  • Not too big
  • 330,000 live here and love it here

Scene shows the biker leaving his garage and heading onto the trail. Throughout this video, various riders of gender and ethnicity ride through the sceneries in the Roanoke Region of Virginia. 

Visuals of text: 

  • Lowest cost of living in Virginia
  • Live large! Homes priced well below national average
  • Ride, run, or walk
  • 30+ miles of urban trails
  • Everything from Asian to Ziti
  • Top performing hospitals (source: Joint Commission)
  • You'll be in good company (visuals of company logos including Advance Autoparts, Harris, Elizabeth Arden, Coca Cola, GE, Orvis, Allstate, UnitedHealth Group, Wells Fargo, and Yokohama)
  • Easy-to-use regional airport. Major carriers
  • FedEx and UPS hub
  • Live in the woods, on the water, or in town
  • Museums of art, science, trains, history... even pinball!
  • Our schools are at the head of their class
  • Unique shops and galleries
  • Virginia's largest, best lake (source: MSN Travel)
  • 25 colleges and universities with 145,000 students
  • [Carvins Cove] votest best trail in town and best mountain town (source: Blue Ridge Outdoors)
  • 300,000 acres of national forest
  • Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail run through it
  • Virginia's most diverse economy
  • Farm to table... even your table
  • Make a splash (at Splash Valley)
  • Red Sox Minor League Team (at Salem Memorial Ballpark)
  • Home to Virginia Tech
  • 50+ festivals each year
  • Active lifestyle for all levels of fitness
  • Breweries, wineries, and food trucks... oh my!
  • Lots of music venues so you can get your groove on
  • 24 rivers and creeks 
  • Top market for starting a business (source:
  • City on the rise (source:
  • Black Dog Salvage - as seen on TV!
  • Play Ball - Leagues for all ages

The video ends with the first rider riding to the overlook at the Roanoke Star and the pans out, and then turns to the open vista of the Roanoke Valley. 

Work hard. Play hard. Live easy. Roanoke Region of Virginia

Explore some of these websites to learn more about our city and things to do and see throughout the region:

What our graduates love about Roanoke


[Andrew Li]: Driving into Roanoke the first thing I noticed was the big mountain with the star on top.

[Sarah Herrman]: I absolutely fell in love with Roanoke when I moved here. The people are so nice.

[Scott Figor]: it's it's really just a great community, a great environment, and really everything that I want to do is here.

[Vandana Kumar]: It's just been a really great place to get to know people and form some really sincere relationships.

[Nikki Sood]: I just think about the times that you're in the hospital at 6:00 in the morning and you look out the windows and you get to see the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. 

[Conor O'Neill]: It's a great place to have that feeling of a city where you can go downtown and you can have some of those amenities of being in a city, but small enough that, you know, it takes us just a few minutes to get from home to work.

[Jing Chen]: It's small enough that we can walk to every places. My parents are living with us and they don't know how to drive. They can walk from home to school to a hospital to grocery everywhere.

[Maggie Nelson]: Roanoke's an amazing town it's been growing a lot so it's just been an amazing four years and a great little town that nobody really knows about.

[Kevin Staggenborg]: I really like the small city feel here in Roanoke.

[Rohit Dasgupta]: whenever I go to Kroger which is just right next to you know right next to our campus over here there's a gro... cashier there called Judy and the first time I met her was during my M1 year my first year. She saw my badge and she said "oh you know are you a medical student" and I said "yeah how'd you know?" and then she was like well you know "I just saw your badge I actually go to you guys' graduation."

[Diana Zychowski, Elizabeth Sugg, Caroline Reist, all talking together]: We know all the people at Kroger. Judy, Judy, Judy, we know Judy. We know Subash in produce shout out to Subash. And the fish guy but yeah everything she's gone now I don't know the fish guy.

[Rohit]: She's like you know "did you take your board exams yet?" and I'm like "I'm studying for them", and then I tell her I passed, so it's just it's been a really nice you know it's been really nice to get to really know the members of the community on a personal level.

[Caroline Reist]: I love everything about Roanoke.  

[Music with various still shots of students in Roanoke]

[Katie Sourbeer]: The greenway is probably my favorite part of Roanoke. It's really nice to run along the river.

[Scott Figor]: My favorite things to do in Roanoke are being outside.

[Maggie Nelson]: Hanging out with my friends just walking around Crystal Springs.

[Julia Ross]: Gotten really into board games recently to me how that's something else we bring our board together is that what they're called yeah boarders

[Speaker 1]: We love all the different food options here.

[Vivek Singh]: Dillon [Cockrell] and I are on a rec basketball team together in the Roanoke area and we play a lot of teams in this area and currently are three and one.

[Matt Rich]: The formals are great they're always a great time mostly because you get all the classes together I think our first two years we spend a lot of time as just our class together but formals' a lot of fun could you get basically four years of people some people you don't see very often so there's always good times.

[Maggie Nelson]: Stand-up paddleboarding, going to the lake. I mean, there's no no end of things you can do here. 

[Music with visual stating "But there are two favorites: Beer and Hiking"]

Various speakers with visuals of students outside hiking and in breweries:

  • You're going to breweries those are a big hot spot in Roanoke right now
  • There's fantastic hiking
  • Breweries opening up is absolutely fabulous
  • Lots of really cool hiking in the area there's Dragon's Tooth, Tinker's Cliffs,  McAfee's [Knob] of course is classic
  • There's a lot of breweries coming into town
  • There's a lot of breweries that have opened up
  • We like hiking
  • I love to hike here 
  • The first time I ever went on the Appalachian Trail was here which was amazing and with Maggie
  • Deschutes and Ballast Point just opened up
  • I like to go out to breweries when I'm not studying
  • Fourth year so not studying at all, so all the time and
  • We actually spent our anniversary hiking up McAfee's Knob which was absolutely wonderful
  • Beer
  • Hiking
  • I love to hike
  • Yeah I love to hike too - that's I was gonna say it's very dog-friendly
  • Lots of breweries lots of places to go have a drink or two depending on the day yeah
  • Sometimes on a warm day in spring you just need something to cool you down and when you run out of water beers always there for you
  • I hiked McAfee's Knob once by moonlight with my classmates which is pretty cool
  • When you have the free time there's there's never a dull moment here 

[Music with visuals of students in various settings]

[Caroline Reist]: Everyone says hiking I hiked for the first time in like two years this morning and my thighs are so sore there's no hiking is not my favorite part 


The Great Outdoors

The majestic Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia that surround the Roanoke Valley provide a scenic backdrop for everyday life here.

But to fully enjoy your Blue Ridge Mountains experience you've got to put on some sturdy shoes and hike, bike, climb, paddle, or drive among them.

The region has received numerous awards and accolades for our outdoor amenities, including being named a Top Mountain Town and Top Trail Town from Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine. The Roanoke Valley was also named one of the ten most bike-friendly areas in the United States by USA Today Travel.

Blue Ridge Parkway

The Blue Ridge Parkway winds through the heart of Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. At 469 miles, this scenic drive winds along the Blue Ridge Mountains and offers visitors the opportunity to enjoy some of the best mountain views in the world.

The Parkway is operated by the National Park Service and is the most visited unit in the National Park System. Travelers can take the Parkway north out of the Roanoke Valley and make their way to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive or south toward Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.

The Blue Ridge Parkway also connects you to interesting locations in Virginia's Blue Ridge. The Parkway is only a 10-minute drive from Downtown Roanoke and there are six different entry points to this world-famous road throughout the region.

Arts and Culture

Is it a violin? Or a fiddle? In the Roanoke Valley, it's both. That's because we're home to the widest variety of music and cultural activities you'll find anywhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Spend your day combing through fine art at the Taubman Museum of Art or historic railroad photography at the O. Winston Link Museum.

Discover the region's rich visual and performing arts along the Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia's Artisan Network or Arts Along Virginia's 460 trails. Or snag a work of folk art at a local gallery. Sit back and enjoy live theatre, ballet, opera, and the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra. Then, hit the town for a night cap of music and entertainment.

Lively Traditions

Feeling festive? We've got just the thing for that. Each year, the greater Roanoke Valley hosts so many festivals, you'll swear we celebrate just about everything. Strawberries. Chili. Blues and barbecue. Downtown Roanoke is where you'll find lots of big events like Festival in the Park and Local Colors - a celebration of the many cultures that shape our growing region.

Not to be outdone, Salem is home to the annual Salem Fair, Olde Salem Days and many more fun events. Smith Mountain Lake, area wineries and the charming small towns across the region also host unique festivals and events all year round.

Find out more about the annual events in Virginia's Blue Ridge.