Geek Weekend: Roanoke, VA

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Geek Weekend is a continuing travel series about geeky things to do in cities around the world. Want your city featured? Write us at tips@crunchgear.com.

The RNR region is frequently recognized as a great place to raise a family and for its outstanding quality of life. But more recently, it’s getting great marks for business and entrepreneurship, being recognized by Forbes as a Best Small Places for Business and Career, and by CNNMoney as a Tech Launching Pad and one of 100 best places to live and launch.

The region is home to a diverse and thriving technology and entrepreneurial community, with businesses specializing in the fields of biology, chemistry, nano-technology, materials science, autonomous navigation, software engineering, bio-informatics, fiber optics, water purification, aerospace, and information technology, among other disciplines.

The local Technology Council – The NCTC – is our champion and leader in the tech community. A 33-year old lad from Scranton, PA right out of “The Office” leads our efforts to promote technology start ups in the region. Visit us Sept 18 for Demo Day, the region’s most comprehensive science fair.

The NCTC executive leader is part of a robust, engaged and growing young professional population providing many access points to get plugged into the community (both offline and online). Visit the plethora of YP organizations.

These YPs are changing and innovating the city through Richard Florida’s Creative Community Leadership Project. These Creative Connectors are implementing Florida’s 4T’s of economic development – technology, talent, tolerance and territory assets.

Perhaps the most innovative, creative and talented group of people are the MyScoper girls who have created a community online calendar that brings functionality and consistency in compiling all of the ways to spend your time. Their wacky special events also get national coverage.

And for “Real Time Local News”, check out our Roanoke Fwix feed courtesy of Fwix creator Darian Sharazi. Thanks D.

The RNR is one of Virginia’s best-kept secrets, but those who love the natural beauty of the mountains love visiting and many relocate. With all of the parks, rivers, and trails, outdoor-types have lots of options such that the region has been compared to places like Boulder, Colorado. With just a short drive, you can enjoy the New River, Mountain Lake, Claytor Lake, or Smith Mountain Lake, the largest man-made lake in the state.

If an active lifestyle is your passion, follow the adventures of the CarLess Brit as he shows what it’s like to live in Roanoke without a car. In six months he has created a massive following and has his own museum chronicling his journey.

The RNR is also the backyard of Hokie Nation. Virginia Tech is the state’s largest educational institution with 35,000+ students and its size doubles on home football Saturdays in the fall. The team’s entrance to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” is price of admission creating the greatest pre-game atmosphere in college football.

Also, at Virginia Tech you will see the Big Mac – one of the fastest computers in the world. The Big Mac and other emerging technologies and companies are housed in the CRC and at VT KnowledgeWorks, which provide assistance to entrepreneurs in a campus environment.

Yet another successful entrepreneur and young professional has infused the underground music scene through Kirk Avenue Music Hall. This intimate location boasts a diverse mix of genres on a regular basis at prices you cannot believe.

This same individual has also developed some of the best urban lofts you will ever see. Check out the reinvented Cotton Mill for your pad once you move here.

Across the street from the Cotton Mill is the Jefferson Center – a performing arts mecca and a short walk through the downtown district leads to the new $60 million Taubman Musuem of Art.

Nestled beside the Taubman is Roanoke’s heritage the Norfolk and Western railroad, which provides landmarks such as the historic Hotel Roanoke – voted two years in a row as the world’s top Doubletree Hotel property, the Virginia Transportation Museum, and the O.Winston Link Museum reminding Roanokers of its past and its creative future.

A timeless treasure a couple of blocks from the rail district is the oldest, continuous open-air Farmer’s Market in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and an assortment of arts and crafts are sold daily by local farmers and artisans.

In addition to the Farmer’s Market, Roanoke offers many diverse restaurants, but probably none more famous than the Roanoke Millionaire’s Club – Texas Tavern – which was recently featured as one of the Top 100 places you must eat before you die – a true landmark especially at 3 a.m.

Now let Roanoke and the RNR soak in for a minute as you start to plan your visit.


Thanks to Anne and Handshake20.com for being the Tech Crunch of the RNR (Roanoke and New River Valleys) and using her site to launch this blog post.

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