Like a ?tall? at the coffee shop or a snake named Fluffy, the Skate Center of Roanoke Valley?s moniker belies its true form. While it's true that visitors may careen along the hardwood floor of the roller-skating rink, a number of other fun, calorie-burning activities also await to amp up heartbeats. Healthy competition abounds in the Challenge Arena, where patrons can battle each other with cushioned bolsters or race up a climbing wall to win the shotgun seat on the way home. In the Play Zone, kids 12 and under dive into a Ball Pond and ricochet down slides before burning off remaining energy in the bounce room.
Hot Shots Family Fun Center enchants guests of all ages with four outdoor attractions. Three streams, six ponds, and a waterfall line the par-40 miniature golf course, cultivating peace of mind as players grapple with creative hazards. Friends can test their fear factor on the 24-foot drop slide, attack one another with a barrage of cushy Nerf balls using Cannonball Air Blasters or enjoy the Hot Shots bounce house. Everyone enjoys the food at the Nineteenth Hole Cafe, where adults can even enjoy a sip while kids wear themselves down.
In the 1850s, the Norfolk & Western Railway made its way to Big Lick, Virginia, transforming the sleepy town into a locomotive hub of the south. The Virginia Museum of Transportation walks visitors through this industrial change with its historic steam and diesel engines, cabooses, model trains, and rail collection, which features more than 50 pieces of rolling stock, including some of the most advanced Roanoke-made steam engines ever built in the Norfolk & Western Class J-611 and Class A-1218. Railway exhibits recount the exploits of the industry’s most renowned names and provide an opportunity for visitors to hop aboard an actual diesel locomotive and complain loudly about the lack of complimentary peanuts. Additional engine-powered attractions include a century’s worth of automobiles and the recently reopened Wings Over Virginia Aviation Gallery collection.
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.