Duck Pond

The clear waters and lush greenery of Duck Pond on a sunny spring afternoon in Blacksburg, Virginia, April 21, 2018. Climate change presents a growing threat against the beauty of freshwater ecosystems, among other habitats.

The general consensus on campus is that the five wellness days scattered throughout the semester are not enough of a break for students working tirelessly and without end. While this format does inhibit mass, long-term vacationing, what are students losing in this trade? While assignments or tests are not technically scheduled on that day, many professors assign work spanning the day before and day after the break, or they fail to adjust the class schedule to accommodate no work being done on that day. Many students in reality spend the day trying to catch up on work, laundry, sleep or all three. Do you ever wonder what to do on that random weekday we get off as a “mental break”? Luckily, Virginia Tech has a plethora of daylong activities sure to make one forget the mountain of homework due the next day.

Especially with the weather warming up (as much as Blacksburg can get warm), exploring the outdoors is a great stress reliever. Last spring break day (Feb. 25), hordes of students flooded the Drillfield playing soccer, spikeball and football. Blankets were set out for picnics and music of all kinds could be heard as one walked the sidewalks. Even a romantic picnic by the Duck Pond provides some respite from the hustle and bustle of campus. If you are willing to drive a little, a picnic atop Bald Knob combines amazing views and a short, uphill hike near Smith Mountain Lake. Cascades is a longer hike and is still icy, but the gushing waterfall (full of melted snow coming down the mountains) provides a view worth the four mile round trip. Both of these trails are less than an hour from campus and have parking fairly close to the trailhead.

If hiking does not sound appealing to you, there are plenty of day trips just a short drive away. Roanoke is less than an hour away and provides many shops, restaurants and museums to explore. The perfect Instagram-worthy backdrop can be found at the Roanoke Star, overlooking the rest of the city. For a smaller town full of quaint shopping and great comfort food, check out Floyd, located about 45 minutes from campus. Local art, historic museums and antique shops fill the streets. 

For a less-crowded day off, take a nice 25-minute drive to Mountain Lake, the one of only two natural freshwater lakes in the state of Virginia. The backdrop for “Dirty Dancing,” this reservoir welcomes boaters, fishers and swimmers. While the water might be cold for a while, it is a perfect change of scenery for a day or even a weekend (cabin rentals are available year-round).

While the current plan for spring break is unconventional, there is still room to catch up on sleep, sun or the occasional missed assignment. There are a plethora of options near and far to cater to any vacation style. Blacksburg and the surrounding area provide the quintessential setting to a perfect day. 

Editor's Note: A correction was made to this article and is now updated. What previously said "For a less-crowded day off, take a nice 25-minute drive to Smith Mountain Lake" now reads "Mountain Lake," which is the correct location at which "Dirty Dancing" was filmed.

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