Experience History, Nature and Family Fun in Martinsville, VA
With its appealing balance of natural beauty and well-preserved history, plus a congenial, laid-back atmosphere, Martinsville, VA, is a delightful destination for families. Whether you're hiking scenic riverside trails, standing awestruck in front of enormous dinosaur skeletons, meeting friendly farm animals or watching world-class motor races, you won't struggle to find fun things to do in Martinsville.
Virginia Museum of Natural History
The Virginia Museum of Natural History (21 Starling Ave., Martinsville, VA) offers exhibits detailing the natural history of Virginia, as well as more universal subjects such as African mammals, prehistoric fossils and giant Ice Age creatures. Kids who love dinosaurs will be especially thrilled to admire a 140-year-old allosaurus skeleton and a pteranodon hanging from the ceiling with its 20-foot wing span on display and will enjoy observing the museum's scientists at work in the paleontology lab. Discovery Reef is an exhibit designed specifically for children 8 and under. It features a huge wooden ship with decks for climbing and an interactive play area in its hull. The museum is open Monday to Saturday year-round, and on Sundays from late May to early September. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children, seniors and students. Admission is free for children under 3.
Smith River Trails
The Smith River Trail system comprises over 20 miles of greenway along a 44.5-mile section of the Smith River, which flows through Virginia down to the border of North Carolina. Martinsville visitors can access the trails via the Doe Run River Access on DuPont Road and explore on foot or bike (rentals are available in the city), or drive to more than a dozen other access points in the vicinity. Some especially scenic sections of the trail system include the Rock Ridge Trail, which passes through hardwood forest and along a lake shore; the wildlife-rich Fieldale Walking Trail, where you may spot deer, groundhogs and many different bird species; and the 75-acre Richard P. Gravely, Jr., Nature Preserve, where you can take a self-guided tour of a turn-of-the-century tobacco plantation and hike through a living tunnel of rhododendron.
Take the family on a tour of Stonehaus Farms (59 Forsythia Dr., Martinsville, VA), a sustainable farm just outside Martinsville. The tours are adaptable for visitors of different ages, with a greater focus on animals for little kids, and for older kids a fun educational approach focusing on sustainable living. You'll see and learn about potbellied pigs, exotic chickens, a flock of guinea hens that eat bugs and kill rats and Nigerian dwarf goats who produce the creamiest milk of any goats. Admission is $5 for children and $7 for adults.
For any motorsports fans visiting Martinsville, catching an event at the Martinsville Speedway (340 Speedway Rd., Ridgeway, VA) is a must. The track, known for its small size (0.526 miles), tight corners and paperclip shape, makes for exciting races, including the annual Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Fans enjoy unmatched views of the action due to the track's close quarters, with seats that put you close enough to feel the race car vibrations. Check the schedule in advance of your visit to Martinsville and consider booking tickets to such events as the Texas Roadhouse 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, the Old Dominion 500 playoffs and the Valleystar Credit Union 300. For certain events, children 12 and under are free.
Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum
See what life was like in Martinsville in times gone by at the Martinsville-Henry County Heritage Center & Museum (1 E. Main St., Martinsville, VA), housed inside the historic Henry County Courthouse. The changing collection showcases antiques, photographs and artifacts that evoke many different aspects of the region's heritage. You'll see Native American artifacts and items from the Civil War, pioneer-era farms and tobacco plantations. An antique dollhouse will be especially intriguing for little visitors. A timeline of Martinsville's history is also on display. Entrance to the museum is free. It's open for limited hours in the afternoons on Tuesdays through Fridays, year-round.
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A writer of diverse interests, Joanne Thomas has penned pieces about road trips for Hyundai, children's craft projects for Disney and wine cocktails for Robert Mondavi. She has lived on three continents and currently resides in Los Angeles, where she is co-owner and editor of a weekly newspaper. Thomas holds a BSc in politics from the University of Bristol, England.