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Getting the flavor of...Virginia’s Star City, and more

The “Capital of the Blue Ridge Mountains” offers activities for every variety of vacationer.

Virginia’s Star CityThe first thing you see when entering Roanoke, Va., at night is an 88-and-a-half-foot-tall neon star perched atop a mountain, said Gretchen McKay in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. At any time of day, the spot provides stunning views of this city, the “Capital of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” which offers activities for every variety of vacationer. “Outdoor types can spend the day hiking or biking a network of greenway and mountain trails,” or traipsing through nearby caves. Strollers can enjoy the downtown’s many boutiques, as well as such cultural destinations as the city’s “stunning” new American art museum, the Taubman. If history’s “more your thing,” check out the country’s largest collection of diesel and steam locomotives at the Virginia Museum of Transportation. Even if you don’t stay at the 1882 Hotel Roanoke, drop in to the Regency Room for a peanut soup and get a good look at historic murals of dancing Virginians.

Long Island wine countryThe far tip of Long Island, N.Y., still can make me giddy, said Janelle Nanos in National Geographic Traveler. The moment our car cuts toward the North Fork on a county road, “I breathe deeply, inhaling salty air,” and the suburban sprawl behind us seems to give way to farmland. The scenery has changed since my childhood, but just slightly: Grapevines stretch out like dancers to either side, “almost as if the land itself is celebrating the North’s Fork’s evolution over the past four decades from potato to wine country.” Weekend provisions are easy to find. We hit Briermere Farms for vegetables and a strawberry-rhubarb pie, pick out a raclette at Mattituck’s Village Cheese Shop, and grab some organic wine at Shinn Estate Vineyards. We’ll drive to the beach in the morning but can’t pass up a night in busy little Greenport, where we can hear children’s laughter emanating from a 1920s carousel overlooking the harbor.

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