Photos by: Jennifer Doss, Laura Steere, Heather Hoffman, Richard Boyd, Patrick Henry Community College
Think back to your school days and what summer break meant. Those few short months of freedom were a way to escape your normal routine. Lazy afternoons at the pool replaced homework and staying up late to catch fireflies replaced early bedtimes. Each year, the break queued a time for exploration, discovery and wonder.
Flash forward to the present - you’re an adult now with responsibilities and bills to pay. Fact: adulting can be hard! While your summer might not be as carefree as “back in the day,” you don’t have to give up that sense of wonder either! Here are a dozen suggested activities to kick-start your summer of discovery because after all, grown-ups should have fun too!
1. Hit the River – Head out to your local river to canoe, kayak, tube, and fish or simply wade in the water. The sounds of rushing water have stress relieving benefits sure to put a smile on your face. Along the Smith River, the Great Road Access in Fieldale, Virginia offers a convenient place to picnic and wade in the cool waters. Just remember to follow all posted safety rules for an enjoyable afternoon. The Smith River has 11 access points along a 45 mile long stretch and if white-water paddling is more your speed, contact a local outfitter for a guided trip down the river. VisitMartinsville.com/smith-river
2. Breaking Away – Focusing on a creative activity is an excellent way to clear your mind and escape from the stresses of daily life. When making fused glass at Studio 107 or Gallery 22 in Martinsville, Virginia, you can learn to safely break colorful pieces of glass then arrange the pieces into the design of your choice on a glass base. The completed designs are then melted at 1700 degrees in a kiln to create a permanent work of art. Projects are often cooled and ready for pickup within 24 hours. VisitMartinsville.com/art
3. Discover the Art of Cheese – If you enjoy projects that produce edible results, then try your hand at cheese making. Spend a few hours at Stonehaus Farms in Martinsville, Virginia to tour the farm yard, meet and learn to milk the goats and then learn the processes behind making delectable goat milk cheeses. Your cookout guests will be very impressed when they hear that you made your own cheese! StonehausFarms.net
4. Try Alpaca Trekking – If your morning excitement involves walking the dog, then take that skill up a notch by going alpaca trekking at Infinity Acres Petting Ranch. Located in Ridgeway, Virginia, this working ranch will teach you to harness and care for an alpaca. Lead the alpaca by the reins as you take a leisurely hike through the forest, cross streams and enjoy a picnic in the woods with your new furry friend. InfinityAcres.org
5. Discover the Flavors at Flight Night – Please your inner foodie with a gourmet ice cream tasting at Dippers Ice Cream in Ridgeway, Virginia. Offered monthly throughout the season, this ticketed event introduces participants to unique flavor combinations beyond your wildest dreams. Orange Blossom Honey, Tahitian Vanilla, Basil & Lemon Cake and Sweet Corn Blackberry Swirl are just sampling of the innovative flavors served up at Flight Night! DippersHomemadeIceCream.com
6. Walk Where Legends Are Made - Make plans to visit Martinsville Speedway in Ridgeway, Virginia on a weekday. Five days a week (some blackout dates apply), you can walk the track where countless driving legends have made history, broken records and celebrated the win of a lifetime. Snap a selfie on the finish line, tour the garages and don’t forget to stop by the ticket office for a souvenir from your visit. MartinsvilleSpeedway.com
7. Get Social at a Painting Party – Even if you have never painted before, participating in a Painting Party at De Spot School of Art in Martinsville, Virginia is a fun and enjoyable experience. Students are provided with all equipment and supplies needed for the three-hour workshop and are welcome to bring along their choice of refreshments and beverages. Instructor Karen Despot keeps the evening light and fun while still fostering an environment where the participants will learn a new skill and take home a work of art that they can be proud of. despotforart.com
8. Dive into Family History – Whether you are knowledgeable about your family tree or if the branches have yet to be discovered, there’s always a treasure to be found at the Bassett Historical Center in Bassett, Virginia. This research center houses family records and documents for the immediate area as well as VA, NC, SC, WV, MD, GA, PA, KY and TN. Friendly staff will help you get familiar with available records and teach you to make the most of your time while at the center. VisitMartinsville.com/genealogy
9. Go Fairy Stone Hunting- After hearing the legend of the Fairy Stone and learning proper hunting etiquette from park rangers at Fairy Stone State Park in Stuart, Virginia, you’ll be on your way and ready to find these unique staurolite crystals. A rare crystal formation found in only a few places on earth, finding these stones is a fun way to spend an afternoon in the forest. VisitMartinsville.com/fairystones
10. Become a Maker at the Fab Lab – Have you ever thought of a clever idea and wished such a product existed? At the Dalton IDEA Center’s Fab Lab in Martinsville, Virginia, you can make anything imaginable. Instructors will lead you through an introductory workshop to teach safe equipment operation and classes may be taken to enhance your design skills. Using 3D printers, plasma cutters, CNC routers and other exciting equipment, you can make your idea a reality and perhaps be the next great innovator. (276) 656-5461
11. Salsa Dancing – If you want to expand your horizons and try a new style of social dance, stop by Mtn. Jax Restaurant & Pub in Martinsville, Virginia on Wednesday nights for salsa dancing lessons. Led by expert instructors that make the class fun and enjoyable, anyone can join in and learn a few new steps. Following an hour of guided instruction, the dance floor opens up for you to meet other dancing enthusiasts and try out your new steps. It’s fun and a great workout too! (276) 403-4529
12. Stitch It Up – If you’ve ever wanted to learn the art of quilting, then be sure to visit The Sewing Studio of Martinsville, Virginia for their monthly Quilt Block Days. On the first Tuesday of each month, participants are encouraged to stop by and pick up the pattern of the month. This kit is absolutely free of charge and the friendly staff will help teach you tips and techniques to make your quilt a success. Best of all, if you finish the square prior to the next month’s Quilt Block Day, your next block pattern is free of charge as well! TheSewingStudio.com