Engines roar across a tire-lined track, where single and double go-karts speed through turns and on toward victory. Alongside a track for junior go-karts, this is only one of the attractions that greets visitors to The Zone. Baseballs soar across the batting cages' mesh big-top tent, and the mini-golf course dots its baize landscape with obstacles such as miniature barns or tiny warehouses filled with smaller replicas of the mini-golf course. Indoors, video games fill an arcade with a symphony of electronic beeps, while party rooms play host to shindigs with themes such as princesses and activities such as crafts.
While stationed on Long Island to conduct secret war research for the U.S. government during World War II, O. Winston Link started snapping photographs of the Long Island Railroad tracks behind his lab. Eager to capture large-scale railroad pictures at night, he built his own customized flash equipment. After the war, Link harnessed that creative curiosity by spending five years photographing the Norfolk and Western Railway, the last large steam-powered American railroad. From his 20 trips to the railway's tracks in four states, Link collected 2,400 pictures.
His work didn't garner attention until the 1980s, when he published his first collection of railroad photos in the lauded book Steam, Steel & Stars. The West Virginia Historical Society continues to preserve his legacy with the O. Winston Link Museum, which showcases Link's Norfolk and Western project while filling in its historical context. Throughout seven galleries, patrons hear the sounds of bustling locomotive engines, adjust the lighting of an interactive diorama's photograph, and ogle Link's original photographic equipment, including flashbulbs, power boxes, and super power boxes. The museum underscores its edifying galleries with a plentitude of tours, workshops, and ongoing photography programs.
Perched on the banks of Smith Mountain Lake, Bridgewater Marina & Boat Rental launches and lends a variety of lake skimmers to pleasure-seeking pontooners. Peruse and patrol the waters for the elusive Bigfin from atop a four-stroke pontoon boat, whose flat deck area gives a surface for chips and dip and heated canasta competitions. Hedonists, meanwhile, can crank hydroplaning into high gear with a runabout ski-boat rental that?when brought up to speed?can quickly dry hair still soaked with Gatorade from last night's solitaire victory. Bridgewater gives pilots a free safety and instructional orientation before launching them onto the lake, and allows boaters to upgrade one-hour rentals to two hours, or even full days, for an extra fee.
Chartered in 1970 as the first science museum in the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Science Museum of Western Virginia educates all ages with interactive exhibits and events. Exhibits include displays that engage visitors with information about healthy living, Earth-themed lessons about geology, energy, and natural resources, and a how-it-works gallery that answers questions about physics, chemistry, technology, and why gravity shuts off every leap day.
Beyond the Green Indoor Golf & Sportsbar grants players the chance to play a round at a virtual recreation of a famous course with its high-definition golf simulator and refuel with pub-style fare. Playing partners set off without need for a cart and smack real golf balls into a highly realistic image of their chosen course. The screen captures each stroke's distance and spin rate and analyzes the mechanics of the player's swing to identify the causes of any undesired results. The onsite grille's lunch and dinner menus refuel golfers with Chicago–style hot dogs and sourdough sandwiches, which are much more satisfying than their virtual counterpart—bananas stolen from unsuspecting Donkey Kongs.
With three locations in the Valley area, Roanoke/Botetourt Athletic Clubs offer extensive facilities, a focus on member convenience, and a variety of group-exercise classes a week. (Class descriptions and schedules here.) Membership to any of the clubs allows you to use all three facilities. The family membership includes the buyer, his or her spouse, and any children younger than 21 who live at home. Both membership options offer unlimited workouts at any of the locations, allowing patrons to keep their muscles nervous and on edge by constantly varying the time, frequency, and location of exercise. Fitness seekers at the Roanoke Athletic Club and Botetourt Athletic Club can make use of cardio theaters, gymnasiums, steam rooms, professional-grade racquetball courts, and the track. Indoor and outdoor pools allow aquaphiles to immerse themselves in the object of their love year-round, and pool-goers at the Botetourt location can combine the joy of swimming with low-friction delight in the form of a 23-foot water slide. Complimentary child-care is also available at the Roanoke and Botetourt locations. Members with little time can participate in lightning workout rounds at the smaller, more centrally located Zoom express fitness center in downtown Roanoke (however, your Groupon cannot be initially redeemed at this location).