Curlicues of painted flame seem to crackle white hot from the mouths of dragons that come to life on the walls beneath the black lights at Glow-A-Rama. The echo of clacking billiard balls drifts past the painted knights, monsters, and underwater vistas, reaching the ears of players batting ping-pong balls back and forth. Patrons tap incandescent spheres across the 18-hole mini-golf course, which was designed and constructed by the owner and is free of the sand traps that slow traditional golf and attract nesting Jimmy Buffetts. Black lights also extend into the game room and party rooms.
Birthday-party guests master the lost art of golf bowling, which involves tapping a golf ball into 10 glowing, diminutive pins. Around Halloween, visitors run the spooky gauntlet of a haunted house festooned with shimmering graveyard murals and pictures of the wolfman without his makeup.
As the James and Maury Rivers wind through the Blue Ridge Mountains, they carry kayakers, canoeists, and inner-tube riders past sheer rock walls, boulder-studded rapids, and tree-blanketed mountain peaks. For more than 30 years, the outdoorsmen at Twin River Outfitters have facilitated adventures for explorers of all experience levels on the nearly 100 miles of these rivers in the upper James River Basin. In addition to renting watercraft for independent exploration, Twin River's team leads guided outings, including overnight excursions. The headquarters also encompass a paddle shop, where a knowledgeable staff advises outdoorsmen on gear such as boats, life jackets, and oars autographed by local salmon.
Found right on the cusp of the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Blue Ridge Vineyard opens up its family farm during the warm weather months for musical and social gatherings. Melody mavens can park on the plush lawn or in the cozy barn, where they'll swim in the eighth notes of a lineup of lively acoustic bands, with styles ranging from the blues, country, and classic-rock tunes of Exit 162 (April 2, September 4, and October 15) to the rousing fiddles of the Blinky Moon Boys (May 21 and October 22).
The course at Botetourt Golf & Swim Club skims through the densely forested terrain of the Roanoke Valley, revealing dramatic glimpses of the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains as players contend with its string of pristine trials. Opened in 1962 with just nine holes, the course celebrates half a century of expansions and improvements that have culminated in its current status as an 18-hole championship track. Golfers today send drives hurling through hilly terrain carpeted with lush sod and roll their putts over undulating greens in pursuit of a par of 71, all while the freshly shorn flags of conquered pins dangle from their belts.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,111 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 70.8 from the back tees * Course slope of 136 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole
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.