Resting on central Mexico's Pacific coast against the backdrop of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Puerto Vallarta has become a popular destination partially for this picturesque landscape, but also for its mild climate, with average high temperatures around 81 degrees in March. Fishing boats and scuba divers explore the depths of Banderas Bay, and ziplines whiz through tropical forest canopy. The former port town also holds on to its historical charm by preserving its cobblestone streets and 19th-century churches. In Viejo Vallarta, the city's Old Town, artists peddle shawls and piñatas, and mariachi bands serenade couples dancing on Plaza Principal.
When attempting to hit a baseball traveling 90 mph or faster, every fraction of a second matters. That’s why Baseball Vision Program’s hitting guru Chris McKnight emphasizes the process of seeing the ball as the pitcher delivers it and tracking it on its way to the strike zone—the earlier a player’s eyes “pick up” the ball, the more time he or she has to react. By training players’ eyes and the reactions of their hands to be in unison, Chris gives them a valuable tool not just at the plate, but in the field. A veteran coach with experience as a manager in the NCAA and as a scout, Chris has developed successful training methods with more than 3,000 students.
Rock River Lanes gathers groups for the time-honored pastime of repeatedly knocking over 10 pesky pins before celebrations bathed in frothy brews and pizza pies. At the lanes, groups will first equip their toes with specialized shoes, much like donning flippers to visit the aquarium's whale tank. With feet draped in smooth, alley-approved soles, groups can begin their pin pummeling. In two hours, bands of bowlers can sneak in several 10-frame games, sending balls twisting and tumbling down the lanes, pins clanging and clamoring around the pin deck. While championing the spherical side in the battle between pins and bowling balls, athletes can satisfy tummies by tackling slices of a one-topping pizza or indulging in a few glasses of performance-enhancing domestic suds from a pitcher.
The certified instructors at Scooter Tow Hang Gliding School have designed their curriculum to encourage potential students that hang-gliding can be for anyone. In doing so, they introduce beginners to the sport gradually by scheduling flights in the early morning and late afternoon—when the atmosphere is at its calmest—and having them start by only going 2–3 feet off the ground. Once they're more experienced, flyers can join the crew for organized brewery tours and the school's hang-gliding club.
Along with his dogs Hazel and Gus, Wisconsin Adventures LLC's owner Rodrigo Camacho leads hunting groups in search of quail, pheasants, grouse, and other upland birds. Their quests take them across south-central Wisconsin's scenic countryside, which is a mixture of sprawling cropland, open fields, and densely wooded terrain. Because most hunts take place on privately owned farms, they don't require licenses or permits, which allows Mr. Camacho to accommodate everyone from first-timers to reincarnations of Davy Crockett. Mr. Camacho can also set up clay-shooting targets and train dogs in the arts of pointing and flushing.
Hitters SportsPlex is a 50,000-square-foot sports complex that gives aspiring sluggers the opportunity to train year-round in pristine indoor facilities. With three baseball cages and pitching machines capable of firing stitched orbs at adjustable speeds and emulating up to six different pitches, batters can perfect their swing against throws of all degrees of difficulty. Athletes can also hone their talents in climate-controlled, hi-tech practice facilities for tennis, indoor golf, and pickleball—a combination of ping-pong and tennis that's played on a giant plate next to a giant hamburger.
On June 30, 1904 Col. William and Anna Vilas donated a tract of land to become a public park and free recreational space in memory of their son, Henry, who died due to complications from diabetes at a young age. They added numerous improvements over the decade and in 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo gained its first animal exhibits. Today, the zoo covers 30 acres and features a number of creatures from around the world, ranging from the vanishing chimpanzee and endangered red panda to locals such as the great horned owl and american alligator. The zoo also remains one of the few free AZA-accredited zoos across the country.
Leading up to and following the zoo's centennial, the ReZOOvenation project has expanded the visitor areas, replacing the entrance and gift shop and adding a tropical-rainforest aviary and big-cat complex. A variety of annual events are scheduled, including Halloween at the Zoo, with costumes and stops for sustainable palm-oil candy, and earth day, when children can plant trees to help lower the global temperature just enough for icicles to form. The zoo’s many conservation projects also engage the public in protecting the environment and its inhabitants by installing solar-energy panels, sponsoring trips to save endangered orangutans, and collecting old cell phones.