Roanoke & Around
Illuminated by the giant star atop Mill Mountain, Roanoke is the largest city in the valley and is the self-proclaimed 'Capital of the Blue Ridge.' There are good eating and drinking options downtown (near Market and Campbell Sts), and appealing options 3 miles west along Grandin Rd.
Galax claims to be the world capital of mountain music, although it feels like anywhere-else-ville outside of the immediate downtown area, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The main attraction is the Rex Theater, a musty, red-curtained belle of yore. Frequent bluegrass acts cross its stage, but the easiest one to catch is the Friday-night live WBRF 98.
Tiny, cute-as-a-postcard Floyd is nothing more than an intersection between Hwy 8 and 221, but life explodes on Friday nights at the Floyd Country Store. Every Friday starting at 6:30pm, $5 gets you four bluegrass bands in four hours and the chance to watch happy crowds jam along to regional heritage.
Mt Rodgers National Recreation Area
This seriously beautiful district is well worth a visit from outdoor enthusiasts. Hike, fish or cross-country ski among ancient hardwood trees and the state's tallest peak. The park headquarters offers maps and recreation directories. The NPS operates five campgrounds in the area; contact park headquarters for details.