• Photo: Laura Glickstein / Shutterstock

Roanoke

They once called this city "Big Lick." But today Roanoke, with a population of 95,000, is Virginia's largest city west of Richmond, the largest city on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in many ways, the capital of southwest Virginia. The metropolitan area of 230,000 has enough city flavor to provide a degree of culture and elegance, but its location between the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail means that the wilds aren't too far away either; mountains dominate its horizons in all directions.

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