Roanoke Star – Roanoke, Virginia - Atlas Obscura

Roanoke Star

Forget Hollywood, one of the biggest stars in the world can be found in Roanoke, Virginia. 


Perched high atop Virginia’s Mill Mountain (the only mountain to be contained entirely within the limits of one city) is a bright neon beacon that has given a whole new identity to the town below, which is now known as the “Star City of the South.”

Built in 1949, the massive star shining from the peak of Mill Mountain was created to inspire Christmas shoppers for miles around. Despite its seasonal origin the shining novelty quickly became a huge hit with locals and it was decided that the star would be illuminated all year round. The star, which stands over 88 feet tall, can be seen for miles around when it is lit up, and the city of Roanoke at the foot of the mountain soon earned its colorful nickname.

The giant decoration actually consists of three stars nested within each other with each concentric layer able to light up in one of America’s three patriotic hues. 

Today the star is lit up each night until midnight, usually shining with the red, white, and blue. However the lights of the star have been used to signal significant events over the years as well, often shining pure white to honor tragedies ranging from local car wrecks to massacres elsewhere in the state. 

Know Before You Go

This attraction is free of charge, and is in an open public Roanoke park.  Parking is free of charge, but can be a challenge on busy days, as there are only so many spots for parking.

There are numerous trails coming and going from this spot.  The zoo is just a few hundred yards down the hill; there is ample free parking there as well.

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