For more than 50 years, the monks of Marmion Abbey have tended 300 acres of farmland. They started with Christmas trees, and now maintain 120 acres of pines, spruces, and firs that smell exactly like car freshener. On the remaining acres, they tend pumpkin vines and corn mazes, interspersing these areas with scenic picnic groves.
Throughout the year, the monks open their land to the public. In the autumn, they host Pumpkin Daze, a harvest festival with tractor wagon rides and a petting zoo. Around mid-November, they grant access to their tree farm, supplying visitors with rental saws for you-cut trees and bellowing "Timber!" just like Paul Bunyan did when he fell into bed at night. The monks stock their farm store with handcrafted goods that complement the season, whether caramel apples in the fall or quilts in the winter.
A stress-shedding family-friendly sport for splatter soldiers of all types and stripes, paintball grants its combatants the perfect backdrop for one-on-one duels or group-oriented maneuvers. Spread out your tickets over six solo sessions, or round up five friends, coworkers, or NBA starters for a fast-paced adrenaline-fueled jaunt across unique indoor and outdoor terrains that can include pastoral fields and themed villages. Each trek arms guests with a battle mask and goggles, semiautomatic paintball marker, hopper and tanker, and orientation that lays out the rules, safety precautions, and the symbolism behind to Jackson Pollack’s early work.
Be Active Outdoors organizes physical and recreational activities for adults and children of all fitness levels. Regular events challenge locals to break their sedentary habits with 10-mile bike rides, lessons on revitalizing waterways, and group adventure races. An annual river-basin tournament combines a focus on conservation with thrilling paddleboat and shoreline fishing. The Amped Up Adventure race complicates traditional adventure racing with urban elements including biking, running, paddling, and an obstacle course to get people moving in their home environments.
Kristin was nervous before her first pole-dancing class. Sure, she’d spent years as a fitness specialist with a background in classical dance, but she was also working as the volunteer director at her church. What would people think? At her first turn around the pole, however, her fears vanished. “I felt like a goddess and an acrobat,” she says.
Today, Kristin is a certified pole instructor, a master trainer for Pole Move, Inc, and a member of the Pole Fitness Association. Inside her 3,400-square-foot studio, she works alongside 16 PFA-certified instructors to teach women body acceptance through pole dancing. More than 3,000 female students so far have sampled the studio's liberating, confidence-boosting classes. There's a broad selection of class types, including eight stages of pole dancing, burlesque, aerobic classes, core conditioning, aerial silks, and aerial yoga. Each class caps attendance at 10 students to ensure instructors know everyone’s name and favorite sandwich, and that they can keep an eye out for safety and technique.
Aurora Roller Skate Center's gleaming wooden rink beckons wheel-hitched feet to orbit its oblong track beneath glowing white globe lamps. Gather four friends or nine members of the Walton family and lace up classic four-wheel skates before gliding through daily open-skate sessions (upgrade to inline skates for additional fee). A slew of special events and theme nights fill the skate center with movie and costume parties, and DJ Suave Smooth electrifies Friday and Saturday evenings with Top 40 hits and Schubert dirges that bellow through the rink's stentorian speakers as colorful lights flicker across the floor. On the sidelines, retro booths coddle weary gams, and skaters nosh on pizza and slushes from the snack bar or fawn over new trinkets from the novelty shop.
Featuring an abundance of indoor inflatable slides, jumps, and obstacle courses, Monkey Joe's caters to energetic kids 12 years and younger regardless of the day's forecast. Today's Groupon lets an adult and their youngster swing by for a bout of supervised bouncing during any of the gym's open hours, which take place every day of the week. Adults always get in for free, but are asked not to jump on the play equipment unless they are watching a child four years or younger or just won bingo. Instead, accompanying elders can relax while monitoring little ones in Monkey Joe's amenity-laden parent nook, which features comfortable seating, free wireless Internet, and flat-screen televisions that never need you to wipe their noses. Kids three years and younger can scoot confidently about the super-soft surfaces of the separate Mini Monkey Zone. After battling through inflatable obstacle courses and contending with bouncy minotaurs, kids can scuttle over to the arcade to use their six tokens for games of skee-ball, basketball, or jump rope; most games require one token.