When it came to her daughter Kayla’s equestrian education, Patty Savage Wooters entrusted the task to the most qualified candidate: herself. Kayla eventually became a two-time World Champion at the Kentucky State Fair and today, both Patty and Kayla channel their expertise into Longview Stables and Riding Academy. Private and group lessons accommodate first timers and horse-show veterans alike in the indoor and outdoor arenas, where instructors expound on fundamentals and bond riders and steeds via improved communication instead of trust falls.
At summer camp, counselors shepherd kids of all ages through daily rides and the basics of horse care, as well as horse-themed crafts. Birthday parties afford opportunities for kids to mount a mini pony named Pottachelli, while the birthday kid bounces atop a fully-grown horse. Nearby, boarded horses enjoy the shelter of stalls or canter like recently animated garden statues around emerald corrals and pastures.
The Plains Conservation Center is an offshoot of the West Arapahoe Conservation District, an organization appointed in 1949 to teach farming and ranching techniques that could help prevent another devastating Dust Bowl. While the PCC's mission has since expanded, the nonprofit organization's main goal remains the same: preserving the health of Colorado's plains. Between its two sites—a main 1,100-acre location in Aurora and more than 10,000 acres spread along West Bijou Creek—the organization maintains several attractions devoted to the history and environmental character of the region. These include more than five miles of hiking trails, a Cheyenne camp from 1837 with four standing tepees, and Wells Crossing, a replica 1887 farm consisting of sod houses, and heirloom gardens. For more modern sites, the Aurora location's visitor center features interactive displays and seasonal events such as Hops for Habitat, an annual fundraiser with beer tastings from local craft brewers.
Snakes slither in glass display cases, and lizards wriggle in the hands of trained handlers as they're held up in full view of a curious crowd. This is the scene as one of Repticon's presenters educates attendees on the biology, behavior, and typing speeds of exotic cold-blooded creatures at one of the year-round shows held in cities across the country. Reptile and amphibian breeders, scholars, and handlers engage audiences in lectures and demonstrations in the midst of live reptile exhibits, family activities, and displays for exotic-pet supplies. Presentations may focus on the genetics of large snake species, the specifics of exotic-pet care, and the effect that tiny hats have on the image of arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders.
A rainbow of paint showers Dynamic Paintball's 8 acres, where players weave between bunkers. Year round, these simulated battlefields host games of intense Capture the Flag, during which participants must dodge acrylic salvos, hide behind wooden structures, and race across grassy fields. To keep things fun yet safe, Dynamic Paintball's staffers supervise all games and matches up players based on skill level. They also set up paintball battles for bachelor parties and birthdays.
Away from the technicolor warzone, a shaded staging area lets groups strategize and grab bites to eat. Players can also head over to Dynamic Paintball's proshop, where staffers repair damaged gear and recommend new paintball guns from the likes of Tippmann.
It's a good idea to arrive early at Movie Tavern, and not only if you hate missing the opening credits. Early birds can peruse the extensive menu of chef-crafted American cuisine, from kobe beef sliders to pizza and sandwiches. But even after the show begins, the snacks keep coming. Unobtrusive servers slip in during the show to deliver orders, and can be called on for more drinks or dessert with the push of a button. Guests can even sip margaritas or signature cocktails at the full bar before heading in to the theater. The family-friendly establishment also serves finger food for kiddies.
As for the entertainment, audiences get to enjoy all-digital presentations of first-run films any day of the week, plus Retro Cinema every Wednesday morning at 11:30 a.m. as well as Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. Audiences also benefit from Movie Tavern's membership program. Anyone can sign up for free online to receive one free bag of popcorn, plus a free ticket every year on their birthday, special offers, movie news, and invites to screenings and other special events.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award?winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.