Roanoke Revealed

Roanoke Visitors’ Association

Roanoke Visitors’ Association

I finally scheduled the time to find and travel to the Roanoke Visitors’ Association. Technically, that’s not what it’s called. Virginia’s Blue Ridge, Roanoke Valley is the website moniker. I suppose that’s a search term that might make sense for someone who knows the area, but as one who’s only about six months familiar with Roanoke, that’s not something I’d come up with.

Curiously, I lived through the same kind of brand think when the Rochester Convention and Visitors Bureau “simplified” its name with a more complex, clubby and confusing alternative. I can’t even remember what it was. They’re now “VisitRochester.com”. Guess Roanoke went through a similar discovery process (or hired the same marketing firm), as the local website is now VisitRoanokeVA.com (although promotional material indicates VisitVABlueRidge.com).

Regardless, I was impressed with the helpfulness of the staff (or volunteers?) on my first visit to this resource. It is a simple set up. The counter is basically all there is for interface with brochure racks along adjacent walls. Unlike what I’m familiar with, membership is free for businesses within specified geographic area (although an application/registration process is required). Know, it took me a ton of time to find this on the website, so if you are in the five funding jurisdictions noted and have a business that might appeal to visitors, save this link somewhere you can easily find it in the future.

I don’t know where primary staff is housed (there doesn’t seem to be enough space at this location). The two gals at the place when I visited aren’t even listed on the website.

The promoted Visitors Association location is housed in an old train station that includes a display area highlighting the architect that designed the space (that’s free). The O. Winston Link Museum, also in this building), archives, in photographs, the end of the steam engine train era. There’s a fee to enter this space but you can get a good snapshot by visiting the gift shop.

Where is the Visitors' Association in Roanoke?

Hotel Roanoke is an easier landmark to spot than the building that houses the Visitor Information Center. It’s across the street.

One of the things I discovered during my stop (the building is located at 101 Shenandoah Ave NE – not something you’re likely to spot driving or walking around Roanoke – it’s behind the Taubman Museum of Art heading toward the {Berglund} Civic Center on Williamson Rd. NE) is there are 15 art galleries, museums and artist studios all in close proximity to Market Street. On the first Friday of each month, they stay open late (5-9 p.m.) as part of Art by Night.There are also a number of venues (mostly bars) offering live music in this area of downtown at the same time.

The other interesting free series artist related event find was Parks & Art (scheduled during summer months). These are held at five City parks with days, times and artist participants mapped out (and available in a brochure) long before the season starts.

I’ll spotlight the first event, scheduled for this year is June 25th from 12-3 p.m. at Golden Park, next Monday along with activities planned for the rest of the season at other parks.

It will be at least July (first Fridays and all) before Art By Night gets first-hand comment here, but stay tuned for more on this one later.

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2 Comments so far:

  1. It’s curious isn’t it when confusing names are used for things that you’d think should be veering on the side of unmistakably clear. How fun though you discovered the little art conglomerate. Those finds are like secret treasures to be celebrated. Art by Night sounds like a fun way to kick off a weekend – I’ll look forward to your review.

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