Unveiling the Charms of Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia

Sharing is caring!

Nestled in between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains, set along the banks of the New River and Virginia Tech’s innovative spirit, rests a region steeped in natural beauty and agricultural heritage. This Is Montgomery County, Virginia. Within are two of the most charming towns – Blacksburg and Christiansburg.

Blacksburg, Virginia, founded in 1798, is a vibrant town in the Appalachian Mountains. With approximately 45,000 residents, it’s best known as the home of Virginia Tech, one of the nation’s leading research universities. The town thrives on the energy of academia and innovation, offering a dynamic blend of intellectual pursuits and entrepreneurial spirit.

Beyond its academic prowess, Blacksburg boasts a charming downtown area with historic architecture, locally-owned shops, and diverse dining options, making it a beloved destination for residents and visitors alike.

Additionally, the town’s proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway and Jefferson National Forest provides ample opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, biking, and exploring the region’s natural beauty.

What To Do Outdoors

Montgomery County also feeds two additional river systems along the New River’s banks: the James River and the Roanoke River.  This is because the two towns literally straddle the Eastern Continental Divide. Montgomery County is host or close to three national recreation corridors:

  1. The Appalachian Trail skirts along the northern edge of the county (Georgia to Main corridor)
  2. The TransAmerica Bike Trail passes east to west through the center of the county (Coast to Coast Trail – Rt 76)   
  3. The Blue Ridge Parkway—America’s Favorite Drive—Montgomery County is a secondary gateway to this 469-mile scenic motorway.

Jefferson National Forest

Pandapas Pond Jefferson National Forest Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0024
Pandapas Pond – Jefferson National Forest – Credit DownshiftingPRO

Jefferson National Forest is one of two forests that stretch across the entire state. It is watched over by the beautiful Appalachians and has two thousand miles of hiking trails, which lends to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the region. Walk Pandapas Pond, an eight-acre pond situated within a hardwood forest. It is encircled by a one-mile loop trail that traverses wetlands over boardwalks and bridges.

Hike or Bike Brush Mountain Park

New River Land Trust Credit Michael Carnrike
New River Land Trust Credit Michael Carnrike

Brush Mountain Park in Blacksburg conserves 758 acres of forest and will eventually contain over 18 miles of multi-use trails great for hiking and mountain biking. The Huckleberry Trail is connected to Brush Mountain Park, which is connected to the Poverty Creek Trails.

Tubing Down New River Junction

New River Junction Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0016
New River Junction Credit DownshiftingPRO

New River Junction is a family-owned camping and RV park beside the New River. You can meander down the New River in an intertube and get picked up at the end so you can do it all over again.

Huckleberry Park – Christiansburg

Huckleberry Park Christiansburg VA Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0007
Huckleberry Park, Christiansburg, VA Photo Credit_ DownshiftingPRO

A true gem, this large recreational area in Christiansburg is the mecca for family entertainment. The 50-acre park features all-inclusive amenities, pet-friendly play areas, special events locations, and multi-purpose playing fields. It boasts one of the region’s most comprehensive children’s play areas. Huckleberry Park was recently opened after ten years of planning, building community support, and construction.

Not only is this park accessible to ALL children, but it also has activities suited to children with disabilities and neurodivergent. Considering sensory issues, there are plenty of sensory games to stimulate the mind and entertain all children.

This venue has four football fields, which can be converted to baseball diamonds for players 12 years and under. Perfect for tournaments, Christiansburg is continuing to expand its sports tourism program. It is truly a state-of-the-art facility.

Downtown Blacksburg

Sugar Magnolia

Sugar Magnolia Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195341 0033
Sugar Magnolia Credit DownshiftingPRO

The owner of Sugar Magnolia was pressed to find memorable souvenirs that didn’t include a Virginia Tech logo. Like any good entrepreneur, she opened a shop with her husband to provide unique gifts for locals and visitors. The sweets and ice cream shop adjacent to the store is an added bonus. Sugar Magnolia had the best milkshake I have ever had. With local sources, creamy and flavorful ice cream, and plenty of whipped cream, you will not want to miss this shop on Main Street.

Blacksburg Books

Blacksburg Books Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0013
Blacksburg Books Credit DownshiftingPRO

An independent bookstore in downtown Blacksburg, Blacksburg Books provides a peaceful haven for book lovers and those seeking community. Whether you want to buy a surprise book (wrapped up and ready for you to discover), stickers, journals, chick lit, books on diversity, or best sellers, this is a great option for book appreciators. Check out their children’s programs (they recently collaborated with the Lyric Theater for a book and a movie series).

Lyric Theater

Lyric Theater Blacksburg VA Credit DownshiftingPRO 3 20240509 195341 0036
Lyric Theatre, Blacksburg, VA Credit DownshiftingPRO

There is so much history in this local movie theatre! In this throwback to movie matinees, you will enjoy comfy seats and first-run movies. Strongly connected to the community, the Lyric hosts school children and other community partners to provide movies to all. These are first-run movies, too, and with fresh popcorn and very reasonable pricing, this theatre always has something to offer.

Blacksburg Farmers Market

Farmers Market Blacksburg VA Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195339 0000
Farmers Market Blacksburg, VA Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

This is not a large farmers market, but it is award-winning. Virginia Living recently named Blacksburg Farmer’s Market the Best Farmers Market in southwestern Virginia; enjoy this market on Saturday mornings or Wednesday evenings. Saturday market days offer an ‘only produce market’ (items sold must have been made, grown, or produced within a 50-mile radius of Blacksburg). Currently, 37 vendors offer baked goods (try the Blacksburg Bagels), fresh produce, plants, flowers, and meat.

Blacksburg Virginia 20240509 212435 0000
Blacksburg Farmers Market Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Artisans also feature hand-made pottery, jewelry, leather goods, and even alpaca wool socks. One notable vendor was Den Hill Farm & Fungi, which had an amazing array of fresh mushrooms.

Moss Arts Center and Gallery

Moss Arts Center Blacksburg VA Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0009
Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg, VA Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Stunning, state-of-the-art theatre with a killer lineup for the 2024-2025 season. The Moss Arts Center is a 1274-seat, 3-level entertainment space with over 30 shows a season. It hosts singers, dance troupes, classical music, and touring Broadway shows. All those performing are asked to lead workshops or talks to help foster the creative arts community. Past performers include Yo-yo Ma, Leslie Odham Jr., and Chitrasena Dance Company.

The upcoming season will include music and dance from Guinean Cirque Kalabante, An Evening with Ta-Nehisi Coates, real-time voting as Ontroerend Goed performs Fight Night, Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen and The Book of Mormon, Czech National Symphony Orchestra, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons at 300.

Gallery at the Moss Arts Center Blacksburg VA Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0010
Gallery at the Moss Arts Center, Blacksburg, VA Credit DownshiftingPRO

The Moss Arts Center has two galleries. This one featured the senior class end-of-year projects. Exhibitions and educational talks are held throughout the year.

Hahn Horticulture Gardens

Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0011
Hahn Horticulture Garden at Virginia Tech Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Located on the Virginia Tech campus, the Hahn Horticulture Gardens does a lot, considering it is privately funded. This was led by director and landscape architect Scott Douglas. He spends 50% of his time on this beautiful botanical garden and 50% teaching landscape design. Open year-round, it’s a peaceful place to study, relax, or get married. It has a koi pond, flower beds, and an enchanting Trident Maple path.

Alexander Black House

Alexander Black House Blacksburg VA Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0018
Alexander Black House, Blacksburg, VA Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Originally built in 1896, the Alexander Black House was moved and restored. A beautiful Queen Anne Victorian house sits regally on a hill and services the community with a children’s center, art gallery, meeting space, and historic house. This is a quick stop, but it is worth a quick chat with the staff. Welcoming and informative, we appreciated the tour.

Find the 16 Frogs

Frog Trail Blacksburg VA Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0023
16 Frogs Trail, Blacksburg, VA Credit: DownshiftingPRO

A fun family activity is a scavenger hunt on The 16 Frog Trail. There are 16 bronze frog statues strategically placed throughout the town and the surrounding area to call attention to the freshwater under and around the streets and buildings of downtown Blacksburg. Each frog has a name and a story to tell! We found Harvey on our walk down Main Street. Each frog is named for a prominent (or important) person in Blacksburg’s history.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Credit Inn at VA Tech
Torgersen Bridge at Virginia Tech Credit Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech, the top university in the state, offers approximately 280 degree programs to over 38,000 students. Virginia Tech is recognized for its distinguished academic programs, particularly engineering and business. Renowned for its esteemed campus culture and innovative pedagogical approaches, the university garners acclaim. Moreover, it is esteemed for its commitment to community engagement and fostering entrepreneurial initiatives among its student body. Many of the establishments in Blacksburg and Christiansburg were founded by Virginia Tech alumni.

Christiansburg and the Cambria Historic District

Spirit of Cambria Credit Montgomery County 1
Spirit of Cambria Credit Montgomery County

Cambria Station Antiques & Old New River Books

Blacksburg Virginia 20240509 211343 0000
Cambria Station Antiques, Cambria, VA Credit: Randy Mink

Located in historic Cambria, Virginia’s oldest general store offers three floors of fantastic antique and vintage treasures, custom-made furniture, primitives, and oddities. Stroll through this wonderful antique shop.

Blacksburg Virginia 20240509 211509 0000
Old River Books, Cambria, VA Credit: Randy Mink

At Old New River Books, you can also find used books, records, and other vintage media. Take a picture in front of the stacked book archway containing thousands of books. Throughout the bookstore, find secret books that contain treasures.

Montgomery Museum of Art & History

Botanical Garden Christiansburg VA Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195339 0006
Botanical Garden, Christiansburg, VA Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Montgomery County, Virginia, and the region, as well as promoting art by regional artists. Visit the museum’s garden maintained by the New River Valley Master Gardeners to see art and sculptures alongside a native habitat garden.

Where to Stay

The Inn at Virginia Tech

Blacksburg Virginia 20240509 213127 0000
Virginia Tech Credit: DownshiftingPRO

The historic Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center is the only hotel on the Virginia Tech Campus. Popular with “Hokies” and travelers, the property features a rich blend of history and comfort in the heart of the campus. The Inn at Virginia Tech redefines services and provides many amenities to create a memorable stay.

The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center Credit Inn at VA Tech
The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center Credit Inn at VA Tech

The rooms are large and comfortable, with views of the Virginia Tech campus. The staff was very helpful, and the location is perfect if you visit Blacksburg. Take note if there is a special event when making reservations, as it will be busy. There is a fitness facility, but the campus provides many beautiful routes to explore if you fancy a good walk. There is free parking and Wi-Fi, and the facility is wheelchair accessible. There is a full breakfast buffet and dinner options at the hotel. They also provide complimentary tea, coffee, and water in the lobby.

Where to Eat

20240504 1955352
Blacksburg Wine Lab Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Many cafes, bistros, restaurants, and breweries offer great food. Blacksburg may be a college town, but the food scene is more comfortable than fancy-schmancy fine dining. But that is what you want: a good meal and a great beer or glass of wine. Here are a few suggestions to consider on your visit to Blacksburg. You can read more about these eateries in my guide on where to eat in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia.

Breakfast

Continental Divide Lounge Inn at Virginia Tech Credit DownshiftingPRO 2 20240509 195341 0028
Continental Divide Lounge, Inn at Virginia Tech Credit: DownshiftingPRO
  • Halwa Bakery and Cafe – Unique hot beverages, sweet and savory pastries, very hip vibe
  • Preston’s at the Inn at Virginia Tech offers a large breakfast buffet with traditional breakfast items, pastries, fresh fruit, and fruit smoothie shots.
  • Blacksburg Farmers Market – various vendors offering pastries, coffee, bagels, even burgers if you want an early morning snack

Lunch

Eastern Divide Brewing Blacksburg VA Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO 2 20240509 195339 0005
Eastern Divide Brewing Blacksburg, VA Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO
  • Gillies – all-day breakfast and a variety of sandwiches and light fare
  • Cabo Fish Taco – tacos, quesadillas, huge margaritas, and a wonderful atmosphere
  • Eastern Divide Brewing – excellent service and the best hot honey chicken sandwich. Burgers were also fantastic
  • Daily Bread Bakery & Bistro – pastries, sandwiches and salads

Dinner

Prestons Inn at Virginia Tech Credit DownshiftingPRO 2 20240509 195341 0030
Prestons, Inn at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA Credit: DownshiftingPRO
  • Preston’s – Upscale dining at The Inn at Virginia Tech
  • Blacksburg Tavern – Southern Comfort Foods at its best
  • Zeppoli’s Italian Restaurant and Wine Shop – fresh, homemade pasta, ravioli, bread, soups, and sauces
  • Wine Lab – Charcuterie Boards, specialty tin appetizers from Spain & Portugal with an extensive wine selection, imported smoked oysters, salmon, sardines etc., available for purchase
Wine Lab Blacksburg VA Photo Credit DownshiftingPRO
Wine Lab Blacksburg, VA Photo Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Winery and Breweries

Beliveau Farm Winery Blacksburg VA Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195340 0017
Beliveau Farm & Winery, Blacksburg, VA Credit: DownshiftingPRO
  • Beliveau Farm and Winery – wine tasting and beers available. Currently, Virginia’s only gluten-free brewery
  • Moon Hollow Brewing Company – both beer and non-alcoholic beverages are available. You can purchase food from neighboring Feather Bone Provisions or a variety of food trucks
  • Eastern Divide Brewing – Large brewery with a restaurant
  • Iron Tree Brewing – neighborhood brewery in Christiansburg sample of flight of very unique beers
  • Rising Silo Brewery & Farm – farm-based brewery using exclusively organic malts and water from the farm’s well
Iron Tree Brewing Credit DownshiftingPRO 20240509 195341 0031
Iron Tree Brewing, Christiansburg, VA Credit: DownshiftingPRO

Blacksburg and Christiansburg are much larger than you might think. Blacksburg is the second largest and Christiansburg fourth largest towns in Virginia by population.  Montgomery County is the largest county west of Charlottesville in population. While here, you don’t sense the population density, you get a better sense of the relaxed atmosphere of small-town America. Friendly, community-oriented, and a fun place to visit.

It was a pleasure visiting and seeing the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. It was well worth the short flights from Canada to Roanoke, Virginia, and the scenic drive to Montgomery County. Trust me, you’ll want to come back!

Website | + posts

Margarita Ibbott is a travel and lifestyle blogger. She blogs about travel in Canada, the United States and Europe giving practical advice through restaurant, hotel and attraction reviews. She writes for DownshiftingPRO.com and other online media outlets.