Tiger Paintball's airball field was born from a custom design that its owners toiled to perfect. Unwilling to settle on offering a standard airball experience, Tiger’s team came together to sew the turf’s bonded surfaces together, carefully construct a rain-drainage system, and map out obstacles in a ways that eliminates visibility issues. With all that planning in place, now players are free to race across the inflatable-barricade-littered blue, red, yellow, and purple surfaces to blast at their opponents. The airball field hosts refereed bouts both by appointment and during weekend open play, and a separate shooting range accommodates guests looking to improve their aim before games. The pro shop sells gear, including markers, goggles, and high-pressure air systems, from trusted manufacturers such as Tippmann, Planet Eclipse, and Ninja Paintball, which makes all its equipment from recycled nunchucks.
Blue Ridge Country Magazine is a 21-year old award-winning publication whose bimonthly issues burgeon with articles and photo essays on the mountains of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The magazine’s pages tell tales of travel in the Blue Ridge, review books, and detail interviews with musicians, artists, and heritage apple hunters, those courageous predators that hunt down rabid apples. Past articles have delved into the fight against mountaintop-removal coal mining, and past photo essays have captured the unbridled spirit and beauty of Kentucky’s waterfalls, butterflies, and native sphinx population. The mountain magazine also offers glimpses into life along the Blue Ridge, advising on ways to cope with drought, pondering recipes for banana croquettes, and profiling regional chocolatiers.
Trained by national paddling champion Luke Hopkins, Stride Stand Up Paddleboard's professional instructors impart the secrets of their waterborne craft in two-hour lessons held on calm waters. After outfitting students with a Stride Airlite HD paddle board, which can also turn into a kayak, and a trusty paddle, instructors cover basic safety precautions and show how to board the vessels in kayak position and using stand-up, seated, and kneeling paddling positions. Afterward, plastic flotillas make their way out to aquatic pastures, where students can practice mounting boards in deeper waters and learn on-water balance all while participating in a guided tour of part of the lake. Supportive instructors treat all students as if they walk on water, imparting privileged tips to develop graceful strokes and effective directional paddling.
With more than 350 stores throughout the country, Play It Again Sports could easily have the feel of a personality-free big box chain store. But each facility is locally owned and operated, so the emporium, which is chock-full of new and gently used sports equipment, has the comfortable, lively atmosphere of your favorite baseball glove’s living room. Inside, shoppers can stock up on fitness gear, lacrosse equipment, baseball gear, tennis rackets, and yoga mats. Or they can sell any of their own quality equipment and grant it new life beyond a closet, cluttered garage, or tiny apothecary vials.
Epic in size and style, WakeNSkate looms as one of the East Coast's largest wakeboard pro shops. The vibrantly lit space is home to a vast array of boots, wetsuits, and shred-friendly gear fit for boarders of all ages and personalities. Outfit waves du jour with swells of new wakeboards, including models by Liquid Force (starting at $260) and Hyperlite (starting at $270). Upon hitting the shore, impress bevies of aqua-betties with skater-style shirts and other apparel by Ezekiel ($42+), Billabong ($39.50+), and Oakley ($45+). Ladies flaunt ink and impressive moves in a smattering of creatively colored dresses, while less hydro-inclined extremists shop a day-glo selection of skateboard decks ($35+).
Named the Best Place to Take Your Kids by the Roanoke Times' SWoCo blog, Mill Mountain Zoo houses 88 animals spanning 35 different species, including seven endangered species. With admission, you'll have the opportunity to peruse such exquisite specimens such as the Burmese Mountain tortoise, the hooded crane, and the collared finchbill, as well as endangered species such as the red panda, the snow leopard, black hornbills, and the perm-topped Kenny G. Set high on Mill Mountain, the zoo blends seamlessly with the surrounding woodlands and features sweeping views of the valley below to create a serene setting for viewing wildlife. For $2, visitors can board the Zoo Choo, a miniature G-16 train that loops the park on more than 1,000 feet of track, providing varied views of the mountain and the resident animals as they eat, sleep, and read the USA Today. To further its commitment to the environment, the zoo sponsors a recycling program that responsibly disposes of reusable waste to the tune of more than 5,000 pounds.