Blacksburg In A Day

I’m madly in love with Blacksburg, Virginia. I wish I could be chill about it, but that seems to be impossible, and, if you lived here, you’d agree.

The best way to depict this perfectly perfect town is to take you through the most Blacksburg-y day I can imagine. It’d be a Saturday in late September, the thermostat would read a unseasonably brisk 68 degrees, and the highways would be jam-packed with cars decked out in magnetic stickers reading “On My Way to See VT Play.”

Now, I should pause and remark that I don’t do “outdoors” well. Blacksburg is known for hiking trails and the New River and lots of other things that people do in the great wilderness. Not me. Sorry. I’m sure you could utilize Google for those kinds of travel recommendations.

We’d wake up slow, open the blinds, and dress in our Virginia Tech colors—that, coincidentally, match the changing leaves outside. Resisting the couch and coffee maker, we’d sleepily gather up some books and drive downtown to Mill Mountain Coffee & Tea (and lift up some praise hands if we found a parking spot easily).

I’d order chai tea, he’d order black coffee, and we’d each get a breakfast sandwich before settling into the coffee shop for the morning. My husband and I met while students at Virginia Tech, and a good portion of our dates involved this small and quirky shop. He lived—literally—in the backyard of Mill Mountain, and much of our homework and flirting took place at those cramped tables and uncomfortable wooden chairs.

From there, we’d park at some obscure side street, far away from any paid parking lots, of course. Meandering down to the stadium, we’d take in the foliage and I’d ooh-and-ahh about how much I love fall and he’d grumble about how awful the Hokies were this season.

Getting closer to our best friend’s family’s tailgate (the location of much mooching in our college years), our pace would quicken, the smell of fried chicken and beer wafting in an oddly wonderful way. We’d devour both the tailgate specialties and the community that seems to inherently come with living life in this small town.

Avoiding the football game (because who wants to waste four hours in Blacksburg standing in the nosebleeds? Probably him. But not me, and I’m the one writing this.), we’d escape to our favorite lunch spots. Now, if I’m truly honest with you, this lunch would probably take place at Chipotle or Jimmy Johns or the Japanese takeout in the town over, but let’s pretend like we’re going local.

A lunch deal at The Cellar entices us often. A pita pizza with three toppings and a fountain drink for under $7? Yep. Give me onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and give him pepperoni, sausage, and any other meat. The Cellar was the final destination on many nights in college, as the downstairs (the actually cellar part) was our favorite bar. Townies fill the bar and magically, there’s always a big table free for our people.

We’d finish our meal and walk across the street to campus. Now, if you visit Blacksburg and you don’t visit Virginia Tech, there’s really no point in visiting Blacksburg. The Hokie Stone that covers nearly every building surface is the perfect shade of gray (is that possible? Yes.), and the Drillfield is a vast green expanse that separates two sides of campus. We’d sit at the ledge next to the pylons and look over this place we get to call home. A walk around campus—inevitably circling the Duck Pond and huffing and puffing and complaining about all the hills—would help us work up an appetite again.

Our dinner stop would be The Blacksburg Taphouse, a new-ish restaurant on Main Street. Many restaurants have cycled through this venue but we’re praying fervently that this one sticks. It’s our favorite, and, if you don’t get the sweet potato fries with whatever you purchase, you’re just harming yourself.

Because calories don’t matter on a food tour around our small town, we’d drive down the road to Macados for dessert. Undoubtedly, we’d order the Madison Mud Pie and gorge on brownies and ice cream while soaking in the cheesy decorations and the cozy feel of the landmark restaurant.

If we weren’t heading back to The Cellar for drinks, our next stop would be The Lyric Theater. They’re starting to serve alcohol on weekends (praise hands again), so I’d order the pinot noir, he’d get a beer, and we’d settle into the creaky cushioned chairs for a $5 movie. It’s iconic and a place you don’t want to miss.

In the holes of time between meals, we’d breath in that mountain air (and the smell of cow poo). You see, not only did Blacksburg bring me my husband, my education, my job, my best friends, and my Hokie Spirit, but it also brought me a sense of something much deeper. Blacksburg became home, a place where I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it on highway signs, a place where the streets became second-nature, a place where life just feels right.

I hope you love it, too. And finally, go Hokies.