Southwest Virginia : Blacksburg
Blacksburg is accessible by road, or for the lucky few, by the Virginia Tech airport. It is about 30 miles west of Roanoke. Blacksburg is on US 460, about ten miles north of I-81 (exit 118B). The closest commercial airport is Roanoke Regional (ROA). The SmartWay bus offers direct service from the airport and downtown Roanoke to Blacksburg and the Virginia Tech campus. The closest Greyhound bus station is also in Roanoke. While school is in session, Home Ride of Virginia offers weekend bus service to Northern Virginia, Hampton roads and other Virginia universities.
If you happen to be arriving with a private plane, Virginia Tech also has an airport, but with no commercial flights.
Through city and university cooperation, Blacksburg has a nice bus system. It is free to all students who have an ID card. It costs $0.50 for everyone else. On Football Games, this fee is hiked up to several dollars for a couple hours before the game starts until half time. After half time for a couple hours after half time, the fees are waived. Blacksburg Transit .
If you are coming to Blacksburg, it is hard to miss the campus of Virginia Tech, especially the much-photographed Burruss Hall.
The main downtown section is an easy walk from the campus.
During the fall, a major part of the weekend is Collegiate American Football. Let's Go Hokies...
The Lyric, the local theater, often has movies for cheap as well as a range of musical acts that pass throught. Former acts include Balkan Beat Box and The Meters
As a bustling college town, there are often university activities at all times of day; inquire at the Squires Student Center.
The Appalachian Trail passes within a few miles of the town, and as a result there are ample hiking opportunities around. Tubing on the nearby New River is a popular activity in the summer.
Blacksburg is also within an hour's drive from Floyd county with its increasingly reknown artist community and growing number of cultural events, such as the annual FloydFest.
Most of the events are within the college student body. To discover more about what's going on, be sure to check out the main internet site for this, Blacksburg Electronic Village
Most everything one needs can be found within the town itself, even without many big box stores around there is still a lot to be found for a very decent price. Stores such as Mish Mish, Matrix, and the Common Thread on the Downtown strip provide a very artistic feel to the area. Every Wednesday and Saturday there is a farmer's market one block off of main street where one can find local produce as well as goods hand made in the New River Valley. Apart from the shops in downtown Blacksburg and scattered throughout town, the main commercial shopping area is situated roughly halfway between Blacksburg and Christiansburg, centered around the New River Valley Mall. Every summer in early August an event called "Steppin' Out" takes place in which Main Street in Blacksburg is closed off and vendors from the surrounding counties and states come to peddle goods of all nature. This is a great time to be around for the live music and diverse foods, as well as to purchase a plethora of homegrown Appalachian goods ranging from hand crafted ceramics and wooden bowls to bonzai trees and handmade instruments.
The downtown area caters to a diverse crowd, and there are countless watering holes offering pub fare of varying quality, from the Cellar and the Underground, which provide a more traditional pub aire, to places like Cabo Fish Taco which regularly feature electronic and breakbeat music acts such as the Boogieburg Sound System. If one desires a finer dining experience they might want to check out Boudreaux's, The Cellar, Gillie's and Poor Billy's Seafood & Sushi, which provide diverse cuisine of excellent quality for just a few extra dollars. Locals are fond of Mike's Grill, a small restaurant offering typical (but excellent) American food- burgers, fries, etc. for a reasonable price; while the college crowd can often be found hanging around places such as the River Mill, Sharkey's or Hokie House. Sheesha, the local Hookah bar, often features live jazz and afrobeat music, and Pita Vera, a Lebanese cafe is another place renowned for their pizza and hummus. Greens offers inexpensive sushi on Mondays and Wednesdays as well as a variety of other food.
Note that the majority of places (if you are looking for inexpensive dining) seem to concentrate on pizza and sandwiches/hamburgers - you will pay approximately double for things which are not.
The area around the New River Valley Mall has many chain restaurants. A few, more upscale establishments can also be found around, such as Zeppoli's ,India Garden, Kabuki's Japanese Steakhouse and The Farmhouse in Christiansburg, Virginia. For an alternative ethnic specialty, try the Ethiopian take-out at The Excellent Table.
Several Saturdays from late Spring to early Autumn the Blacksburg Farmer's Market hosts catered breakfasts and produce competitions.
Go downtown and follow the crowd.
A sizable university confined to a small burg has spawned a coffee shop in every nook and cranny, with as much variety (though not as much square footage or musical patronage) as you'd find in any college town. Some favorites among locals and students include Bollo's (downtown), Greenberry's (Newman Library, on campus), and Our Daily Bread (Gables Shopping Center).
Other easy spots to meet up include the Drillfield on campus and the 1st and Main shopping plaza at the south end of town.
The hotels in the Blacksburg area generally seem to go from $100 to $150 per night. Disregard the prices quoted on the internet, they are often not reflective of reality. Contact the hotel directly under the pretense of booking a room to find out the actual rates. Book your rooms well in advance as there are frequent events that cause them to fill up.
Possessions are very safe in Blacksburg. Purses, wallets and miscellaneous gear are often carelessly left behind and returned to their owners. The reputation of 'completely safe' has been marred by two separate shootings and one decapitation, but these are relatively rare occurrences.
Roanoke is quite close.
There is a bus which leaves from in front of Squires Student Center and goes past the Roanoke Airport and on to the city of Roanoke itself. As of the time of this writing (2011) the price for the bus is $4.