Looking to get off campus? Don’t let its size fool you; Blacksburg has a lot to offer.
For the history buff, Blacksburg has a number of sites of cultural interest. Smithfield Plantation, home of William Preston, the original surveyor of Blacksburg, stand on campus and offers tours by costumed guides and other events. Catch a movie at the cozy Lyric Theater located right across the street from Virginia Tech’s Department of Theater and Cinema. You can also see plays and other live events. To see more of the local history, take the walking tour that covers the original Sixteen Squares of the town.
Want to get outside? There are a number of outdoor activities to do in Blacksburg and the surrounding areas. The Huckleberry Trail runs from the Blacksburg Library to the Christiansburg Recreation Center offering almost eight miles of paved trail for walking, running, biking and more. The nearby George Washington and Jefferson National Forests offer recreation opportunities galore including Pandapas Pond, just three miles east on US 460. A bit farther down the road is Cascades, incredibly popular for its lovely sixty-six foot waterfall. Blacksburg is also located close to a number of Appalachian trail access points including McAfee’s Knob, one of the most photographed spots on the trail.
If you are interested in shopping, downtown Blacksburg offers a variety of local businesses where you can buy Virginia Tech gear, crafts made by local artisans, and Blacksburg souvenirs. If you like local produce, the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market is open Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings. It also hosts a vintage market on the second Saturday of every month from April to November. You can find department stores at the New River Valley Mall in Christiansburg and Valley View and Tanglewood Malls in Roanoke.
Students will are already flooding campus, many of them excited and ready for the new semester, but possibly not quite oriented to the area. Some may still be scrambling for housing or trying to get the hang of the bus routes. Blacksburg is a welcoming town, but it can be a little overwhelming to navigate as a new student with no experience. That is why the Center for Geospatial Information Technology is working to develop a program to map the community to benefit these new students.
CGIT (Center for Geospatial Information Technology at Virginia Tech) is in the business of making maps, and would like to be able to provide incoming students with an interactive map that helps them acclimate to the area. Things to be included will be housing, bus routes, grocery stores, and other helpful tidbits that students may find useful. Haitao Wang came up with this idea after helping some of the Chinese foreign exchange students try to find housing in Blacksburg. He created a helpful map with the different apartment complexes listed for them and realized this could develop into a larger project. The current project can be accessed at community.cgit.vt.edu
Being an active part of the community is very important to CGIT, and this project is just one way that this department is reaching out. 3-D Blacksburg is an interactive map of Blacksburg that was developed by Peter Sforza, the research director at CGIT. One of the goals of this project may be to include the 3-D Blacksburg data to create an interactive 3-D map that students can help input data on.
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