In 1977, Mark and Joan Hemker began with a simple dream: to own a zoo. Starting with just a few waterfowl, they soon amassed a collection of animals from around the world. After Mark passed away in 2006, Joan and their four children took up his mantle, keeping his legacy alive through Hemker Park & Zoo. Today, the family-friendly park introduces visitors of all ages to global wildlife with more than 50 animal species. Residents include giant tortoises, an 8-foot boa constrictor, sleek kangaroos, and inquisitive monkeys and lemurs. There's also a Budgie Buddy House where tiny birds alight on visitors' shoulders and two New Guinea singing dogs who never, ever do autographs. Seasonal events, such as kids' zoo camps and the Close Encounters program, let visitors touch and feed certain animals under the guidance of professional educators for an even more intimate experience.
There?s only one route to Summerland Family Fun Park?s heated pool: a 350-foot water slide (that opens in mid-June). Summerland?s other pool is accessible via bumper boats, but not all the activities are so water-centric. The park also boasts a Grand Prix track for go-karts and Indy karts, bear- and lake-themed 18-hole courses, Kid Kountry for the younger ones, and a host of other attractions ranging from batting cages to an arcade. A concessions stand helps reenergize guests' motherboards between activities with snacks such as pizza, slushies, and ice cream sundaes. Summerland Family Fun Park is located two miles east of St. Cloud on Highway 23.
Skatin' Place offers guests a trio of entertaining activities replete with music, laser beams, and the sounds of clinking coins. Neon lights and disco balls cast a groovy glow over the roller skating rink, as skaters glide forwards and backwards during open skating hours and private parties. Meanwhile, inside the laser tag arena, glowing obstacles and intergalactic artwork set a futuristic scene for teams of sharpshooters, while an arcade offers old-fashioned fun for nimble fingers, as players amass tickets to trade in for prizes or newer, better, younger siblings. And, to help fuel all the family-friendly fun, a snack bar serves casual fare such as pizza, nachos, and slush-a-roos.
More than 10,000 square feet of trampoline surfaces that beckon adventurous guests to slip off their shoes and get airborne at Enter AirMaxx - St. Cloud. Aside from the two main jump courts, where visitors can bounce around like ping pong balls in a popcorn maker, the facility also features a dodgeball court?also on a trampoline?and a foam pit that provides a cushy and safe landing pad to practice aerial maneuvers. Kids under 40" also have their own separate jump court to romp around. The arcade is a nice spot to take a breather and win prizes on the many video games.
River City Extreme Bowling and Pinz Oakdale provides a dazzling display of sensory stimulation. Bowling balls smack into pins, sending them scattering with a loud clatter. Groups cheer in tandem when strikes and spares happen, and groan animatedly when balls slip into the gutter. In the alley?s arcade room, machines buzz and ring as kids toss basketballs into hoops and send air hockey pucks through their opponents? goal. The laser-tag arena sends armed teams through black-light-illuminated rooms. Even the alley?s sports bar and grill gets in on the action, hosting several nights a week of karaoke, trivia tournaments, and origami folding.
The Minnesota Saddlebred Horse Association unites stables across the state, showcasing the diversity of the american saddlebred, as well as training future equestrians with individually tailored riding lessons. After arriving in long pants and sturdy, low-heel shoes, riders don helmets as instructors commence half-hour equine adventures to acquaint students with an agreeable saddlebred, whose manner and relaxed gait are perfect for human accompaniment and a marked advantage in "act casual" situations. The average lesson covers mounting and dismounting, walking and trotting, rein control, and how to properly engage with the horse. In addition, riders will spend time learning how horses think and react in common situations. The MSHA's participating stables open on evenings and weekends for man-to-beast interactions after school or work; customers should note that Lear Stables in Hastings is not heated.