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A short 3-hour drive from Washington, D.C., Roanoke has many options for wellness travel. If you are looking for a weekend getaway in Virginia, consider spending time in Roanoke for hiking, wineries, breweries, and relaxing drives along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Travel for wellness helps you reset your daily life and spend time focusing on your well-being. This wellness quick trip to Roanoke, Virginia helped me connect with nature and spend quality bonding time with my dog, Asha.
What Are Wellness Quick Trips?
Years ago I learned that travel is an immediate reset for my mind and soul. When I travel, my attention goes inward towards what I am experiencing and feeling about the current activity and location I am enjoying.
Wellness quick trips allow me to get away for a few days on a small budget. I recommend planning a wellness quick trip if you are looking for a way to push pause on daily life.
When I need to get away from the Washington, D.C. area, Virginia provides some epic weekend escapes. I’ve enjoyed camping, cabins, bed and breakfasts, and hotels across the state. They say Virginia is for lovers, and it’s true you can have a great time in Virginia with your boo. Virginia is also great for solo travel, especially for females.
When you’re a solo-female traveler, wellness quick trips are great. However, safety always comes first. I always plan my short trips to places that I know I can safely traverse the area solo with my dog. I choose destinations according to how many outdoor activities and sights we can see during the trip and how long the drive will be. I always book a room or Air BnB in a safe location and safe part of town.
Depending on how many days off I have, I try to pack in 2 full days of activities and 1-2 days of drive time. Of course, your wellness quick trip can be shorter or longer depending on your free time.
Where Can I Go on a Wellness Quick Trip From Washington, D.C.?
Most major cities have wonderful getaways within a few short hours drive.
From the Washington, D.C. metro area, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania all have fantastic destinations for wellness vacations.
I chose Roanoke for my trip because I was heading to Charlotte and wanted to stop half way to North Carolina. From Washington, D.C. the drive to Roanoke is only 3 hours along a beautiful highway. Every time I’ve made this drive the traffic was minimal.
However, the weather does make for some interesting driving conditions. I’ve gotten stuck in snow, torrential rain, fog, and high winds while driving south from Washington, D.C. on highway 81 in Virginia. Always check the weather before your trip.
Besides Roanoke, there are a lot of other beautiful towns and cities with civil war history in southern Virginia. I didn’t visit Civil War sites on this trip, but I often do when traveling in the Mid-Atlantic. Other cities I’ve visited near Roanoke include Lexington, Staunton, Salem, and Covington. Each of them have their own charm and beautiful places to stay.
Why Roanoke, Virginia?
I’ve visited the Blue Ridge Mountains a few times since I moved to the Mid-Atlantic Region and have fallen in love with the landscape and views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The views of the mountains and valleys of Virginia are beautiful any time of year. Particularly in fall.
I chose Roanoke because I hadn’t been to Roanoke proper, but I’ve driven through before and thought it looked like a neat city to visit. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.
Roanoke was originally a village named Big Lick, developed by the Railroad industry and re-named after the local river. Roanoke is an Algonquin word for their currency. Roanoke became an industrial town linked to the Mid-Atlantic corridor by several railroad lines. Despite Roanoke’s industrial history, the region suffered an economic decline. Today the city is making efforts to attract younger workers to the region.
From what I could tell from the people I met and the neighborhoods I saw, Roanoke definitely is working its way to becoming a millennial-friendly city. Cute restaurants, bars, new apartment complexes, and outdoor recreation all in a mid-sized city. I’m always open to looking at new options for places to live or visit, so that’s why I picked Roanoke.
Will I be moving there? Probably not. But it was a great destination for a short wellness trip.
How Can I Plan a Wellness Quick Trip to Roanoke, VA?
Where Should I Stay?
There are major hotel chains in Roanoke or nearby. Since I was planning to travel with my dog Asha, the hotel choices ranged between 2 – 3 star hotels. That would have been fine but I figured we would be more comfortable in a place with a kitchen where I could cook and we can walk outside.
Airbnb has a lot of pet-friendly properties, making it easy to travel with your pet. I was surprised by the number of pet-friendly Airbnb listings in the Roanoke, VA area.
I picked an Airbnb in Bent Mountain- “Cozy Cottage in the Blue Ridge” because other listings closer to Roanoke had a high pet fee. Bent Mountain is only 20 minutes past Roanoke. It was an easy drive to and from all the local attractions.
When traveling with your dog, always ask about additional fees or cleaning costs. Hotels and Airbnb hosts usually have specific rules to follow. Make sure you know what those might be before you book your stay. Here is a complete listing of dog-friendly hotels and their policies for the Roanoke/Salem area.
If you are looking for more rustic settings, try looking for cabins or campgrounds in the area as well.
What Should I Do?
Asha and I are very particular about our activities. We prefer anything outdoors if the weather is good. If it’s cold and rainy, we enjoy curling up with a laptop or a book on the sofa.
Luckily, the top things to do near Roanoke, VA include many outdoor activities and the fall weather was still enjoyable for outdoor fun. Hear are some dog-friendly wellness activities in the area:
1. All the Hiking You Need
Roanoke has miles of trails accessible within an hour drive in any direction. Consult this list for the best hikes around Roanoke, VA. Also note, the Appalachian Trail goes right through this area. You can day hike portions of the AT by using this map.
The top three recommended hikes by the locals are: Sharp Top Mountain, McAfee Knob, and Devil’s Marbleyard.
We decided to hike Sharp Top Mountain because it was off the Blue Ridge Parkway and was only 40 minute drive from our Air BnB in Bent Mountain.
Not all trails allow dogs, but there were a lot of other dog-friendly options. Before you set out, consult the All-Trails app to see if the trail you’ve selected is suitable for dogs and recent trail conditions.
Other Local Hikes:
Poor mountain- The first hike we went on was Poor Mountain, which is very close to Bent Mountain. The trail has a very short 1 mile loop and a longer loop with a view point. We only had 45 minutes before sunset so we took the short loop not knowing how long it would take to do the 3 mile loop and see the viewpoint. We probably had enough time but we didn’t want to take the risk on a new hike. The hike was very easy and Asha enjoyed it. The parking lot was tricky to turn into and very small.
Buffalo Mountain- Everyone we met raved about the view from Buffalo Mountain. The day that Asha and I attempted Buffalo Mountain it was rainy and foggy. Since it was at a higher elevation, when we got to the trailhead there was zero visibility in the fog and the trail was slippery. We didn’t attempt the trail at all and the narrow one lane steep driveway was enough to deter me from this hike in the future. Reportedly, on a clear day, it’s worth the effort. You can decide for yourself if that’s true or not (send photos!)
2. Tons of Camping
When the weather is good, camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors. During the summer near Roanoke you can camp in a tent, RV, or rent a cabin. Off season, many campsites are closed during the winter. Be sure to check the campground’s website for their seasonal dates and prices.
Don’t forget, there are a lot of options for camping including hike-in sites. Make sure to take all the necessary gear with you for the type of campsite you booked (but not too much!).
3. Wine Tasting (Don’t Forget Your Dog!)
Roanoke is in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Wine Country and has many dog-friendly options. You can locate a winery based on the experience you are looking for using this list. Or you can find a winery via the VirginiaWine.org Regional Guides downloadable PDF.
Asha and I didn’t get to stop at any of the wineries on our trip but we had intended to go to Chateau Morrisette. It was closed for the Thanksgiving holiday when we tried to visit, so we missed it. The grounds looked lovely and the wine had a good reputation. I was also excited by how dog friendly the winery is- as you can tell from their website: TheDogs.com. (BTW how much did they pay for THAT domain name!?!)
4. Take a Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway
The best way to see the views and valleys of Virginia’s Blue Ridge region is from the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway is a single lane in each direction and has a lot of twists and turns. The views from the Blue Ridge Parkway include view points and links to local roads.
The parkway is only open weather permitting. If there is snow, ice, or fog, portions of the parkway may be closed. GPS does not know when the Parkway is open, so you may have to divert your route on local roads if the Parkway is closed.
This happened to Asha and I as we drove from Chateau Morrissette to Charlotte, NC. The fog was so bad that I thought we might crash following the GPS directions down the Parkway. The road is so narrow it doesn’t give you a lot of options to turn around or turn off. If you get stuck in bad conditions on the Parkway, drive slow, use your hazard lights and watch for turning vehicles.
5. Get Your Water Sports on During Summer
If you love outdoor sports, Roanoke has some fantastic options in winter and summer. Summer activities include boating, kayaking, fishing, (SUP), canoeing, and tubing. You can rent or use your own equipment.
If you are looking for winter sports you will have to drive about 2+ hours to the nearest ski resort or you can backcountry ski/snowshoe with your own equipment.
6. The Breweries Are the BEST Part
Both breweries are downtown Roanoke and are dog friendly. At Three Stars you can only bring your dog on the rear patio, not inside. At Big Lick Asha had a great time eating popcorn from the floor and getting pets from all the patrons.
We also drove to Salem, VA to go to Olde Salem Brewing Company. Asha loved her mat and water bowl. She also had treats made from spent grains. This was probably the highlight of Asha’s trip besides the hike.
Take note that some breweries only allow dogs outside or on patios which makes it difficult to get your beer if you are solo traveling. Usually friendly strangers want to pet Asha and I manage to find a temporary pet sitter.
For a complete listing of dog-friendly breweries near Roanoke, VA check out this list with the policies for each brewery.
Roanoke -A Dog Friendly Destination
Roanoke is a dog-friendly destination so bring your pup on your next wellness trip. There are miles of trails within a short drive of the city. Besides breweries there are also several restaurants with patios that allow you to bring dog.
Bringmydogs.com is an awesome resource for the Roanoke area with information on dog-friendly establishments and events. You can also find a complete listing of dog-friendly hotels and their policies for the Roanoke/Salem area. (Always make sure to call the hotel to verify their pet policies before booking.)
What I loved about bringing Asha to Roanoke was how social she is. Whenever I am traveling with Asha I know that we are going to make new friends on the road. Roanoke was no different.
Asha introduced me to so many nice people who all commented on how well behaved and soft she is. Thanks to all the folks we met in Roanoke at the breweries, Air BnB, hike, and downtown. You all made our stay very enjoyable!
What Did I Get Out of My Wellness Quick Trip?
Wellness quick trips can help you relax, refresh your mind, and focus on activities that you enjoy. If you need a mental break from the stressors of daily life and you want to spend a low-cost weekend nearby, Roanoke is a great destination.
My quick trip to Roanoke helped me get passed a difficult time and get out of a depressive slump. I was happy to spend the money on my trip to clear my head. I enjoyed time without distractions so I could be mindful of my actions and interactions.
Here are a few of the benefits from my trip.
I Practiced Walking Meditation-
I’ve recently been paying closer attention to the action of walking and how my body feels as I walk Asha every day. Walking meditation can be practiced at any time and is helpful to improve mind-body connectivity.
The hike to Sharp Top Mountain was perfect for walking meditation because you couldn’t think about anything other than each step. The path was so treacherous that you have to pay attention to your body and each moment as you ascend the mountain.
Although I walk Asha every day, walking on new unfamiliar trails gave me a chance to practice my walking meditation and focus on the journey rather than the destination. Although, I was very happy when we arrived at the top of the mountain.
I Had Time For Mindfulness-
Recently I have paid more attention to my daily habits and routine. This wellness quick trip gave me space from my normal life to push pause and reflect on my actions. I was able to meditate, cook and eat my food slowly, wake up when I wanted, and be present.
The most mindful time in my life might have been the foggy drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. All of my senses were being used to drive safely in white out conditions. Because I had Asha in the car I was extra cognizant of very moment, not what was happening before or after. Despite the stress, it was a very interesting experience because I was very calm while I was driving. It was intense, but I felt the whole time that I was in control of the situation. I felt at peace. That’s what mindfulness can do for you in stressful times. Bring peace.
It Helped Speed Up My Healing-
I needed time to heal after a breakup. This wellness quick trip was the perfect way to change my environment and help stop the inner narrative of negative thoughts.
I was drawn to the Airbnb in Bent Mountain because the space was cozy and very welcoming in the photos I saw online. It was the perfect place to reflect, enjoy a massage, and just live. Being able to sit outside on the covered patio close to nature at sunset and sunrise was beautiful. Even better with the fire on.
I’m big into healing spaces. The best part about this wellness trip was changing my space from a place I felt negatively about to a space that was warm and inviting. Amazing that I could get a massage too!
I Connected With Nature-
One of my favorite past times is roaming outside. I love being with nature and find nature very healing. Since there are so many places to visit in Virginia, I often go to Virginia for healing vacations.
Hiking and camping in Virginia are one of my favorite ways to spend a free weekend. If I can get outside to connect with nature while I’m traveling, it was a good trip. Some trips I plan specifically to explore the nature in a new city or town.
I intentionally planned the trip to Roanoke because of all the trails near the city for Asha and I to explore. I definitely found our hikes and outside time healing for my heart and soul. Nature’s tranquilities always bring peace to my troubled mind.
I Bonded With My Dog-
Speaking of Asha…
I always want time to connect with my girl. She’s my #1 priority and I always make sure to keep her with me while traveling if possible.
Wellness trips that include your dog can require extra planning. However, it’s worth the effort. You can relax having your dog with you and not worrying about them missing you at a dog sitter.
Asha and I always build a stronger bond as we experience life together. This trip she learned how to stay closer to me on trails and wait for me to go up and down stairs. I learned that she does not trust or like elevators. So on our next trip we should not agree to a room on the 6th floor, like we did in Charlotte. Or else I will be climbing a lot of stairs… again.
Plan Your Trip to Roanoke!
I’ve linked to many of the local businesses and websites that I used to plan my trip throughout the article. What are you waiting for?
Get on top of planning a wellness trip to Roanoke, Virginia!
(This is not a business sponsored post. This post features local businesses in the Roanoke area as a thank you for their hospitality during our visit. Some links may be affiliate links, see our Disclaimer for more information. )