Blacksburg is a favorite college town, ranking among the best in the U.S. It’s beloved for such Virginia Tech landmarks as the Drillfield, a grassy 22-acre on-campus lawn, and the Pylons, eight war memorial sculptures engraved with university values. It’s also a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, thanks to nearby Appalachian Trail hikes like Dragon’s Tooth, which leads to a 35-foot-tall rock spire.
At the tourism office, Cheyenne Kees will tell you she has the best job in the world. This 2019 Virginia Tech grad works as a tourism program assistant and spends her days chatting up the area. Blacksburg, in particular. She has recommendations, too.
College Avenue and Main Street downtown are chock-full of spots you won’t want to miss. Try Cabo Fish Taco for lemon-grilled shrimp tacos and The Cellar for hand-prepared calzones, she says. At the latter, the Luck of the Draw beer special draws people in. You never know what you’re going to get, but you do know that you’ll pay no more than $4.
The one place you must go, according to Kees, is Carol Lee Donuts, which made Yelp’s list of the Top 100 U.S. Donut Shops 2023. Get there early, as these freshly made delights often sell out. “They just have a bunch of really delicious flavors,” says Kees. Her favorite? Cookies N’ Cream.
There are cool, artsy spots in Blacksburg, too, like the historic Lyric Theatre, which first opened in 1909 and shows first- and second-run movies for $8 or less per person. It also hosts live music performances as part of its “Live at the Lyric” series. Another spot for arts and culture is the Moss Arts Center, where musical performances include Broadway-style shows and symphonies.
The Blacksburg Farmers Market on Draper Road is a hit with students and locals alike. In season, it’s open twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays. From April through December, it’s the go-to place for fresh produce, floral wreaths and bouquets, coffee, and made-to-order pastas.
While in Blacksburg, you can partake in student traditions. Visit TOTS (Top of the Stairs), a hangout with pub grub and signature cocktails, like the Rail. Snap a photo with the lighted supersize Virginia Tech flag, a rite of passage among Hokies.
Go to Benny Marzano’s when you’re ready to “get a pizza slice the size of your face,” says Kees. At just $5 apiece, it’s a real bargain. Wind down with a glass of wine and charcuterie at Blacksburg Wine Lab, a hip wine lounge co-owned by Virginia Tech professor John Boyer. (Boyer teaches a wildly popular class every spring called Geography of Wine.) When you’re ready to turn in, it’s a short walk to the Inn at Virginia Tech, an on-campus hotel as plush as it is convenient.
Feature image by Cheyenne Kees, courtesy gotomontva.com
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