Thinking about the pleasures of Roanoke, I don’t know if I’m more intrigued by its railroad heritage or its setting in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shop-hopping in the historic downtown is another big lure. And, as one who “collects” vintage hotels, the lore of one of the South’s grande dames captivates me as well.

At any rate, this city of 100,000 is an enchanting place that makes for a fun stopover on the Blue Ridge Parkway or a hub-and-spoke base for exploring the Roanoke Valley and other communities in western Virginia. Just the mention of the gently rolling Blue Ridge Mountains has always cast a magic spell on me, and waking up to see them outside the hotel window jump-starts my day.

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