View of Downtown Roanoke from the Mill Mountain Star, Oct. 29, 2016.

If you’re tired of deciding between visiting TOTS or Sharkey’s on the weekend, try visiting downtown Roanoke instead. There’s more to it than just seeing the Roanoke Star — there’s an art museum, outdoor ice skating and even a pinball museum. 

The Taubman Museum of Art features a funky exterior which looks like the lovechild of the Sydney Opera House and a flattened skyscraper. The art featured inside the museum changes every few months. According to Taubman’s website, a current work from artist Paul Villinski is the “Flower Bomber” — a translucent fiberglass World War II bomber airplane suspended from the ceiling which drops flowers instead of bombs.  This exhibit will be in the museum through July 31, 2020.

Another work on display is Alyson Shotz’s “A Moment in Time” which features hundreds of glass beads suspended by transparent threads to resemble a snapshot of a gentle rainfall. This exhibit is on display through  Dec. 27, 2021. There are upwards of 10 different exhibits to explore in Taubman, perfect for outings with friends or going on dates. There is free general admission. The museum’s hours can be found at this link

If you’re looking for a blast from the past, look into visiting Roanoke Pinball Museum. It has over 65 pinball machines, each featuring a different iconic figure from generations dating back as far as 1968. Some of the machines feature themes such as Lord of the Rings, Star Trek and for our bleacher-bending student section: Metallica. 

“My favorite pinball machine is the Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine; it has all the voices of the cast on it, and even has some secret modes which is odd for a pinball machine to have. It’s pretty cool,” said Princeton Abbott, a pinball museum employee.

There’s also a temporary outdoor ice skating rink in downtown Roanoke. The hours for the rink can be found here. For $8, you can rent ice skates and watch your friends bruise their tailbones. There are also cute overhanging lights decorating the rink and you can overlook Roanoke’s cityscape while you skate. If you’re not the best at ice skating, no need to worry. There are ice skating aids that you can lean on so you don’t fall. 

For people who like to take life in the fast lane, downtown Roanoke has entertainment center Thunder Valley, which features go-karting, bowling, laser tag, batting cages and an arcade. 

With all of these attractions, downtown Roanoke is the place to be if you’re looking to change things up from the regular Blacksburg hangouts.

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