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Taking in the Arts

While you’re going to Town, make sure you take the opportunity to explore Montgomery County’s fantastic public art! Whether you’re exploring Virginia Tech’s campus in Blacksburg or strolling Christiansburg’s Downtown, beautiful murals and sculptures abound!

Visit the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market and take in the stunning mural in the square! Created by artists Michael St. Germain and Chris Pritchett, the mural depicts different periods of history in Blacksburg in transportation and agriculture.

Market Square Park Mural
A mural in downtown Blacksburg commemorates the local Farmers’ Market. Virginia Tourism Corporation

After visiting the Market, you may notice some beautiful art right underneath your feet! The Blacksburg Stormwater Public Arts Project started in 2018 with the mission to educate citizens on the importance of making sure nothing but rain goes down storm drains in an effort to reduce surface pollution. Currently, nine storm drains have been painted as part of the project. Can you find them all?

In an effort to encourage ecological responsibility, Blacksburg has painted storm drains with murals. “Nothing but rain down the drain.” Virginia Tourism Corporation

Next, head to Christiansburg to see their newest mural! Located in Historic Cambria, the new mural depicts the many charming characteristics of the area, including the depot and train. Afterwards, be sure to walk by Cambria Station Antiques and Cottage Farms General Store to see the additional public art in the area!

Cambria Mural – A work in progress

If you are a true Hokie fan, take a day and track down as many Hokie Birds as you can find! Located all over campus, Blacksburg, and even Christiansburg, the Hokie Bird statues are hand painted and entirely unique—you’ll never find two that are alike! These Hokie Birds have been around since 2006 and offer a fun, additional activity as you explore town.

For an interactive map with the locations of even more public art, click here!

Go to Town! in Blacksburg

One of Montgomery County’s two largest towns – Blacksburg – is internationally known for Virginia Tech and is indeed a quintessential college town. But, Blacksburg offers so much more to New River Valley visitors than higher education. Here are 10 must-experience Blacksburg locales for your next visit to Montgomery County. Go to Town!

Black Hen & Bar Blue

With a rich agricultural history, Montgomery County and Blacksburg have no shortages of delicious, farm-to-table foods and talented chefs. Black Hen & Bar Blue and its beloved culinary artist, Chef T, bring out the vibrant flavor of the region with sophisticated yet approachable dishes. Be sure to try the seared scallops and risotto, which contains mascarpone and a few other unique ingredients we’re not allowed to share. Go to Town! attempting to identify all the flavors in this rich dish, but be sure to save room for dessert.

Blacksburg Farmer’s Market

Taste your way through the flavors of Montgomery County and stop by the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market, open every Wednesday and Saturday, where local growers and makers sell their wares to the local community and restaurants. Depending on the season, you can take home flowers, meats, eggs, produce, baked goods, honey, handmade goods and more. All of the farms participating in the market are located within a 50-mile radius of Blacksburg, and use unique growing methods to lengthen the Appalachian growing season. As Southerners, they’re all of course very friendly so feel free to ask them about their growing processes as part of your agritourism experience. 

Top of the Stairs

Top of the Stairs, or TOTS as the locals call it, is a beloved Hokie hangout featuring indoor and open air dining overlooking one of the main thoroughfares of the Virginia Tech campus. In addition to the iconic neon Virginia Tech flag (which lights up the night sky after gameday), TOTS is locally known for a drink called The Rail, which answers the question, “What would it taste like if you mix all the liquors together in one drink?” Give it a shot and you’ll find it tastes remarkably better with each sip. Plus, the TOTS team might just make you an honorary Hokie.

Pandapas Pond and Poverty Creek Trail System

If mountain biking or hiking through nature is how you like to Go to Town!, be sure to check out Pandapas Pond, located in Jefferson National Forest. Claimed as some of the best mountain biking trails on the East Coast, mountain bikers can kick up mud over 19 trails and more than 30 miles of terrain. Trails are suitable for all skill levels from greenhorns to shredders, while rough rock gardens, switchbacks and grueling vertical climbs await all comers. The pond itself sits on the Eastern Continental Divide and treats visitors to a serene vista of rhododendron, dragonflies, turtles, songbirds, and waterfowl. 

If you’d prefer a more leisurely ride or hike, Poverty Creek Trail is the main multi-use trail at Pandapas Pond that features more gently rolling slopes across a 7.1 mile one-way trail, perfect for hiking, running, horseback riding, mountain biking, or just enjoying a picnic at the Pandapas Pond day area. 

Beliveau Farm Winery

With a desire to grow grapes and make wine, Yvan and Joyce Beliveau purchased land that had been overgrown with brush, along with the 1900’s farmhouse-turned-barn that sat upon it, in 2001. By 2009, the first grapes were planted and the first wine was produced in 2011. Beliveau Farm Winery officially opened in 2012 and a brewery was added in 2019 to produce gluten-free beers – currently Virginia’s only gluten-free brewery. While the variety of wines available, from the “Destiny” vidal blanc to the “Sweet Surrender” concord, are enough to impress any aficionado, more impressive is the 165 scenic acres of picnic areas, hiking trails and lavender fields that add the perfect touch of ambiance to your glass.

The Lyric Theatre

Blacksburg’s Lyric Theatre, originally opened in 1930 and the focus of major restorations throughout the years, is famous for being one of Virginia’s first cinemas to show sound pictures. Adorned with original 1930s tapestries, replica lanterns and the fully restored lobby and auditorium, today the Lyric Theatre is a hub for movies, concerts and performances. The Lyric Theatre is also home to some of the best popcorn in Montgomery County, so grab a bag and enjoy (we like it better with extra butter). 

Lyric Theatre

Moon Hollow Brewing

Moon Hollow Brewing Company boasts an inviting venue where people from all walks of life can connect over fresh, local brews. Named for the small plot of land behind the brewery space, the brewery treats patrons to a variety of locally influenced flavors, from a grapefruit ginger sour to a traditional Hefeweizen. While Moon Hollow does not have its own kitchen (yet), local food trucks are often on site in case you get the munchies. The brewery also is part of the Old Prices Fork School Revitalization Project, which is transforming the unoccupied school into a center for housing, retail, and food and beverage locations.

Moss Arts Center

Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center (known locally as the MAC) is a thriving community of art and inspiration, where visitors have meaningful experiences enjoying arts of the highest caliber in all its forms. In addition to hosting exhibitions and performances from globally and locally celebrated artists, the MAC treats visitors to hands-on experiences, workshops with visiting artists, lectures and symposia, master classes, community celebrations and more. Inside of the MAC is The Cube, a one-of-a-kind black box theater used for research, performances and visual art. 

New River Junction

The New River – one of the world’s oldest rivers – plays a significant role to Blacksburg, Montgomery County and surrounding areas, and the best way to explore this meandering waterway is to just jump right in and Go to Town! New River Junction is a family-owned campground and recreational park which offers access to the wide, shallow riffles and clear, warm waters of the ancient New River. Visitors can rent tubes (and a cooler) for the whole group and simply relax as they float down nearly one mile of calm water. For those seeking a bit more adventure, there is an optional 200 yards of exhilarating rapids at the end of the float.

Blacksburg Wine Lab

If you like wine but feel intimidated by the traditional tasting rooms, stop by Blacksburg Wine Lab for a more approachable wine experience perfect for beginners. Owners John Boyer and Katie Pritchard have created Blacksburg Wine Lab to treat wine amateurs and connoisseurs alike to an experience of tasting high-quality, lesser-known wines with a focus on educating clients on the science and flavors of wines. Blacksburg Wine Lab also serves a menu of foods ranging from appetizers to tinned seafoods to pair perfectly with your wine flights.

Blacksburg’s Mountain Biking Paradise

The thriving town of Blacksburg, Virginia, is known for many things: Virginia Tech, modern art, a hip brewing and gastronomic scene, a lovely temperate climate, and easy access to the rolling hills and slew of outdoor activities surrounding the ancient New River Valley.

Area mudslingers, however, know it for something especially gnarly: top-tier mountain biking. Tucked away in the Jefferson National Forest, the Pandapas Pond Day Use Area and Poverty Creek Trail System offers a wide variety of riding just a short drive—or bike ride—from Blacksburg.

Variety is the name of the game at Pandapas Pond, and 19 trails provide more than 30 miles of mayhem across the mountain biking spectrum. Greenhorn beginners, downhill shredders, and technical gurus alike will have a field day on rolling singletrack, rough rock gardens, heart-stopping switchbacks, and soul-crushing climbs.

Trail difficulty is marked with International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)-designated signage and is well-posted at most intersections. The symbolism is equivalent to that of the ski world (green circle=easiest, blue square=intermediate, and black diamond=most difficult), offering a simple and recognizable hint at what riders should expect around the next bend. A “Muddy Trails Meter” at the Pandapas trailhead kept current by daily users even offers a glimpse of what to expect when the unfavorable weather has made things uncertain. If the slider is set to Poor, consider riding drier trails or gravel roads to prevent resource damage on muddy trails.

Originally written by RootsRated for Southwest Virginia.