Our latest episode in the Baseball Across the Commonwealth series takes us to the Southwest Virginia town of Salem. Combined with neighboring Roanoke, the Salem region is home to nearly 300,000 people and countless things to do. If you're more of a reader instead of a podcast listener, continue on for our recommendations on how to spend time in Salem and Roanoke.
Things to Do
Whether you're into history or the outdoors, the Salem-Roanoke region has something for you. As a Virginia Tech alum, I have spent some time in the area and I can attest to the outdoor offerings. McAfee Knob and Dragon's Tooth are both must-do trails, and each have their own unique charm.
Dragon's Tooth is a tough, steep trail with extremely rewarding views. The out-and-back trek will end up being around 4.1 miles, but it's the trip to the summit that really gets you. The final half mile or so is a steep climb, rated as one of the toughest parts of the Appalachian Trail. It's part hike, part rock scramble, so be prepared if you make your way up this mountain.
Nearby, about 10 miles North on the AT, sits McAfee Knob. While this trail is not as steep and strenuous, it is a bit longer and can still be pretty tough. But once you reach the rock outcrop that is McAfee Knob, you'll see views that make it more than worthwhile.
If hiking isn't your thing, but you still want a great view atop a mountain, you can drive up Mill Mountain in Roanoke and see views of the valley from beneath the Mill Mountain Star.
In addition to great outdoors activities, the region also has great museums and theaters.
Where to Drink
Once you've completed your hike, you're going to be pretty thirsty. Might as well find a brewery to hang out at until it's time to catch a baseball game.
The Salem-Roanoke area has plenty of offerings for craft beers. Perhaps the largest local brewery is Parkway Brewing, with a taproom just five minutes form downtown Salem. Parkway is best known for their Get Bent Mountain IPA, but they have plenty of other offerings as well.
Also in Salem city limits is Olde Salem Brewing Company, featuring a rustic taproom right in downtown.
If you want to venture over to Roanoke, you can try their Three Notch'd taproom, which features the core Three Notch'd lineup as well as weekly local releases.
Also in Roanoke is a Deschutes taproom. The Oregon-based brewery has been planning on opening a brewing facility in Roanoke for quite some time, but while they wait on that project, they went ahead and opened up a taproom downtown. Try any of their classics, including the Fresh Haze and Fresh Squeezed IPAs.
Catch a Game
And of course, no trip would be complete without a baseball game. End your day by visiting Haley Toyota Field and watching the Class A Advanced Salem Red Sox take on an opponent from the Carolina League. Try another local brew from the concession stand, get a hot dog or specialty food item, and take in some great local baseball.
Remember, whenever you visit any of the local attractions, make sure to follow their COVID-19 protocols.
Matthew Atkins, Journalist and Baseball fan.