Looking for a free summer activity? Local residents and visitors can experience Roanoke’s history and small-town charm at the Visitors Center & Museum.

The museum is located at 114 N. Oak St. inside the former Silver Spur Saloon. After undergoing extensive renovations, the museum opened to the public in 2008. It features several permanent exhibits, including artifacts from Roanoke’s past. This summer the museum will feature a special exhibit dedicated to vintage toys.

“It shows us how far we've come, but also keeps us grounded in the roots that make Roanoke so special and unique,” Communications and Marketing Administrator Carissa Katekaru said. “We've had a lot of growth over the years, but we still offer that small-town charm. You feel like you've escaped and stepped back in history a little bit.”

Guests at the museum can experience:
  • A Texas Pacific Railway exhibit
  • A collection of textiles from the 1890s
  • Fossils from mammoths and mastodons
  • World War II military uniforms
  • A photo exhibit
“We can tell so many incredible stories through visual storytelling, and the Visitor Center & Museum does a really fantastic job of laying those out to give you a visual of what it was like to live in Roanoke way back then,” Katekaru said.

Currently, the museum is hosting a special exhibit dedicated to vintage toys, spanning the 1950s and 1960s. This exhibit includes classic items like Tonka Toys, Radio Flyer wagons and “Sesame Street” memorabilia. This exhibit runs through the summer, making it a perfect indoor activity to escape the Texas heat.

In addition to the exhibits, the Visitor Center & Museum offers a variety of interactive activities. One popular feature is the Oak Street scavenger hunt, where visitors can pick up a scavenger hunt sheet and explore historic landmarks along Oak Street. This photo-based hunt is a fun and educational way for families to engage with the town's history.

The museum and scavenger hunt are free activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.

“It's all free family fun,” Katekaru said. “Roanoke really strives to provide free things for our community to do.”

For individuals who want a more in-depth look at Roanoke’s history, the Visitor Center & Museum staff offer a historic walking tour, guiding visitors through 15 significant sites along Oak Street. The tour includes stops at century-old homes and businesses and a 100-year-old fire truck. Visitors can also learn more about the alleged brothel and dance hall above the Silver Spur Saloon.

“We've got a great group of women who work at the museum, and they are incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Roanoke,” Katekaru said. “If you're a history buff, we'd love for you to go in and see them, and get all of the fun historical information.”

Besides the exhibits and tours, the museum also offers unique souvenirs, including T-shirts and Christmas ornaments featuring historic Oak Street and the new city hall. Whether you're a local resident or a visitor, the museum provides an immersive experience that highlights the unique charm of Roanoke.

To learn more about the Visitors Center & Museum, go here.

The above story was produced by Multi-platform Journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.