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Roanoke Rapids
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Located in the East Coast region of the United States, a portion of Virginia and North Carolina both contribute to the Roanoke Rapids Destination. The destination itself is near several prominent and populous cities in both states, namely Norfolk, Virginia; Chesapeake, Virginia; Richmond, Virginia; Durham, North Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Greensboro, North Carolina. All of these previously listed cities are found outside the boundaries of the destination. As for its namesake, Roanoke Rapids, the city occupies a total land area of 9.95 square miles near the border shared between Virginia and North Carolina.[1] The city is most commonly known for its various historical sites. One of the oldest sites in Roanoke Rapids is the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail, which showcases a collection of exhibits that relay the history of Roanoke River Valley to visitors.[1][10] The destination’s geographic landforms also pique the interest of several outdoor enthusiasts, with one of the most notable outdoor attractions being the Roanoke River, which courses through many reservoirs. Lake Gaston is one such reservoir along the route of Roanoke River where a number of people go to engage in fishing, boating, jet skiing, and other similar lake activities. Visitors should also be aware that there are a few lakeside restaurants and shops on the shoreline of Lake Gaston.[6]

What Roanoke Rapids is known for

The Roanoke Rapids Destination comprises part of Virginia in its northern half and a section of North Carolina in its southern half. Positioned slightly southeast of the destination’s central region, Roanoke Rapids—the namesake of the destination—is a city that is bounded by the Roanoke River in northern North Carolina. The city is currently home to an estimated population of about 15,000 residents. In 2020, 15,229 people were recorded as being residents of Roanoke Rapids, which indicates that the population has declined by 1.02% since then and is decreasing at a rate of 0.34% annually. Concerning the racial composition of residents, the majority of the population is constituted by white individuals at 55.78%, with the second most common race being black or African American residents at 36.66%. The remaining constituents of the racial demographic include those who classify as two or more races (4.24%), Asian residents (1.46%), Native Americans (1.41%), and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders (0.44%).[2]

Historically significant sites in Roanoke Rapids are regarded as a prominently known characteristic of the city. The Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail is one such historic site that receives a considerable number of visitors annually. The trail intends to teach tourists more about the history of transportation on the Roanoke River, while the museum addresses the economic development that took place in the city. Guided tours are available at the Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail as well.[3] Another notable historic site is Roanoke Rapids High School, an establishment that first opened to the public in 1921 and is still currently in use. The structure stylistically displays elements of both Gothic Elizabethan and Tudor Revival architecture. Located in the heart of the city, Roanoke Rapids High School is one of the most dominant buildings in the city’s center. This site, plus the Roanoke Canal and Roanoke Rapids Historic District, are all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[1]

In the southern region of the Roanoke Rapids Destination, the city of Lynchburg, Virginia, covers a total urban area of 49.53 square miles. According to the 2020 census, 79,009 inhabitants account for the city’s population, making Lynchburg the largest city in the Roanoke Rapids Destination. In 2006, Lynchburg was rated “5th best place in Virginia for business” by Forbes Magazine, as Virginia is reported to be “the best state in the country for business.”[8] Another sizable city that can be found in the Roanoke Rapids Destination is Rocky Mount, which covers a total urban area of 44.89 square miles. Concerning the city’s tourism, Rocky Mount is incorporated with numerous venues for the performing arts. Parks and sports fields are found throughout the city, as Rocky Mount is often visited by youth sports groups. When traveling on the I-95 route, Rocky Mount is considered a midpoint between New York and Florida, hence the number of athletic groups that travel to the city.[7]


Roanoke Rapids is situated at the fall line of the Roanoke River, an area that marks the meeting point between an upland region and a coastal plain.[1] The largest aquatic feature in the Roanoke Rapids Destination is the Roanoke River, which courses a total of 410 miles through southern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina. The river is impounded in six different areas along its course, as it runs through several lakes. Some of the lakes and reservoirs that are formed along the river’s route are Smith Mountain Lake, Leesville Lake, Kerr Lake, Lake Gaston, and Roanoke Rapids Lake. Moreover, the destination’s western region contains two other bodies of water that are separate from the Roanoke River: Hyco Lake and Mayo Lake. Apart from the destination’s aquatic landforms, the region, as a whole, is primarily composed of forested land, as well as many cities and small towns.[5]

In terms of outdoor recreation, Lake Gaston is one of the most popular reservoirs of the Roanoke River system for warm-weather activities. Fishermen, in particular, are frequently drawn to Lake Gaston, seeking various species of fish, including largemouth bass, sunfish, crappie, striped bass, rockfish, walleye, yellow perch, chain pickerel, and different types of catfish. Other lake activities, aside from fishing, that outdoor enthusiasts often visit Lake Gaston for are water skiing, motor boating, wakeboarding, and tubing. Marinas and boat ramps are available for public use across the shoreline of the lake, in addition to lakeside dining options.[6]

Generally speaking, warm-weather activities tend to be more accessible in Roanoke Rapids from early May to mid-June and from late August to mid-October when temperatures are reasonably moderate. The city experiences a typical high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit from May to September, which is seemingly the reason that former tourists of Roanoke Rapids have described the summer season to be “hot” and “muggy.” July, the hottest month of the year, has temperatures that reach around 89 degrees Fahrenheit on average. As November approaches, temperatures begin to gradually decrease, and the average high from December to February drops to below 58 degrees Fahrenheit. January is the coldest month in Roanoke Rapids, with an average daily high of nearly 33 degrees Fahrenheit.[4]


Roanoke River, the namesake of the city of Roanoke Rapids, derives its name from an Algonquian term for “wampum” (a shell bead): “rawrenok.”[5] Roanoke Rapids was named after this river due to its location along its shores. The earliest settlers arrived at the Roanoke Valley in the 1700s, and the majority of them were English colonists who moved southward from Virginia. It was later discovered that Roanoke Valley’s fertile bottomlands were “ideal for farming,” which ultimately led to the development of a plantation system.[9] In the mid-17th century, settlement began to take place on the Roanoke River’s lower course, while the upper area of the river was being explored by groups of fur traders; however, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the upper and lower courses were settled by the English.[5]

The aforementioned Roanoke Canal Museum and Trail is one of Roanoke Rapids’ “oldest historical sites.”[1] Initially, the canal near the site was purchased by new investors who developed it into a source of water power, with the intent to generate electricity. Two powerhouses were then constructed and put into operation circa 1900, though these powerhouses were put out of business in 1912 after attempting to compete with a newer adjoining power canal. When the site was purchased by the predecessors of Dominion Power Company, the new owners wanted to save the remains of the original navigation canal, as well as the accompanying buildings. These remains were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. Presently, the museum’s trail follows the canal’s original route.[10]


The Oak Grove Plantation bed and breakfast is a 400-acre property located in the southern-Virginian town of South Boston. In addition to various hiking trails and outdoor amenities, the site contains two two-story buildings with a total of 5 units available to reserve. The bed and breakfast can trace its history over 200 years in the past and prior to the American civil war. The home that has expanded into the business that it is today started as a family residence and has gone through many changes throughout its history. Mary Pickett Craddock and Mike Doan, the owners, strive to create a laid-back atmosphere for the guests of the bed and breakfast. Oak Grove Plantation has received various reviews throughout its time of operation, with the quality of service and the food being commonly mentioned items in those reviews.

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The Babcock House Bed and Breakfast Inn is located in Appomattox, Virginia. The establishment features six guestrooms located across a two-story home. Originally built in 1884, the property has been functioning as a bed and breakfast since 1996. The inn also has a restaurant attached to the building which is open five days a week, Wednesday through Saturday, for dinner. On Sundays, the restaurant offers brunch options. Both the meals served at the restaurant as well as the breakfasts served each morning for overnight patrons include vegetables grown on-site, as the owners strive to provide as many "farm to table," dishes as they can. The 1.5-acre property includes vegetable gardens, floral gardens, and multiple outdoor yard games that guests can use. Outside the borders of Babcock House Bed and Breakfast Inn, several visitors are drawn to the city of Appomattox for the various historical sites from the Civil War.

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