At more than 1,200 Mattress Firm locations around the country, shoppers sink into plush mattresses, recline on firm beds, and belly-flop onto pillow tops. Knowledgeable staffers can help customers create an ideal bedtime environment by dispensing advice based on sleep preferences and illuminating the difference between the many kinds of mattresses. And to the delight of their customers, much of Mattress Firm's bedding wears the label of a premium brand, such as Sealy, Serta, Simmons Beautyrest, or Stearns & Foster.
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.
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+).
The licensed aestheticians at Merle Norman Cosmetics treat clients with skin-salvaging treatments. The 60-minute clay-mask facial treatment cleans deep within pores and is customized to all skin types to serve dry-skinned beings, oily faces, or the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. A thorough cleansing removes dirt and oil, and a steam and exfoliation evict any remnants of dead skin cells. An extraction of blackheads tidies up facial pores before a toning session and clay mask shrink them to itty-bitty sizes—the metric measurements Thomas Jefferson used to describe his puppies.
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.