At the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke, known as Star City, is the main city in southwestern Virginia. Divided by the Roanoke River, and in the Roanoke Valley, it originally started life in the mid-19th century known as Big Lick. Roanoke event venues include urban facilities and nearby resorts.
Roanoke Regional Airport (ROA), also known as Woodrum Field, has service on regional airlines only and to Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Detroit, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, St. Petersburg and Washington, DC. The airport is five miles north of downtown Roanoke.
One of the largest meeting facilities in Roanoke proper is the Roanoke Civic Center, which has a 14,396-square-foot exhibit hall, a 46,000-square-foot events center and the 10,600-seat Coliseum sports and events arena.
Hotels with meeting facilities in downtown Roanoke and by the airport include the 331-room Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel, which has 63,000 square feet of function space, including 37 meeting rooms and a ballroom for up to up to 1,400 persons; and the 320-room Sheraton Roanoke Airport Hotel & Conference Center, which has 17,000 square feet of meeting space. Other choices are the 126-room Hyatt Place Roanoke, 135-room Courtyard Roanoke Airport and 126-room Ramada Inn Rivers Edge Conference Center. Nearby, the Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, provides 72,000 square feet of function space against the dramatic backdrop of the Alleghenies.
Of the special event spaces in Roanoke, the Taubman Museum of Art is notable for its very dramatic roof; it has an atrium for 500 persons, an auditorium for 250, the Gallery Hall for 400 and a boardroom for 50. The Virginia Museum of Transportation also has a boardroom, as well as a 1,600-square-foot conference room, the 10,000-square-foot Aviation Gallery, the 3,660-square-foot Main Gallery and 3,550 square feet of exterior space. Beneath Mill Mountain, and with a great view of the Roanoke Star, one of the world's largest manmade stars, is the Discovery Center, which has space for 95 persons (a park right below the star can accommodate 60, and the star gives events here a memorable backdrop).
Restaurants here range from Southern-inspired offerings to nouvelle-American joints. Choices include 419 West, with an American menu and two private dining rooms; 202 Market, which is quite the Roanoke scene but has a spacious, trendy upstairs section called The Loft for private events, and, to continue the number-name theme, Blue 5, with a Southern menu, live music and a private dining room called The Red Room. Two other choices are Stephen's Restaurant, with Louisiana-inspired fare, and the Blues BBQ Co. for barbecue, Bourbon and blues.
Sports fans should note that this is the city in which Julius "Dr. J" Erving started his career, playing for the Roanoke-based Virginia Squires, while NFL player Tiki Barber was actually born in the city.