A whir emits from the skee-ball machine as a long string of tickets emerges from its depths. With his parent’s help, the child counts them off, eager to see if he’s won enough for the coveted prize at the counter, or at least enough to trade with his sister for the window seat on the way home. At Majestic Fun, kids of all ages dive into an 8,000-square-foot spread of games, rides, and food. As Maximillion the Dalmatian and Ellie the Elephant wander around to give birthday kids high-fives or to steal a french fry, friends race each other at driving games or compete in furious rounds of air hockey. Tykes can put gravity in time out on the moon bounce or savor rides on the pintsize carousel. Between games, players find nourishment at the snack bar, munching on pizzas, sub sandwiches, and mozzarella sticks.
The cream of the local culinary crop comes out in full force for the first-ever Taste of Historic Manassas, held at The Harris Pavilion. From the gourmet Italian cuisine of Carmello's to fresh-brewed coffee from Grounds Central Station, Manassas's most dedicated chefs put their best flavors and tallest chef hats on display for foodies. Meanwhile, the musicians of Harlen Simple break free of genre constraints and play a set list of rock, funk, and reggae covers throughout the day.
There's a Virginia outdoorsman who's been called the "Penguin" for most of his life, due to his short, stocky stature. Rather than let that nickname defeat him, he used it as the inspiration for his touring and rental company, Penguin Paddling LLC. Today, when he isn't fighting fires or working as a paramedic, The Penguin leads guests out onto the water for adventures via kayak and stand-up paddleboard, going all the places that motor-powered craft cannot.
Some tours send guests down the Potomac River and along the DC waterfront, passing sites such as historic Georgetown, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Kennedy Center. Alternatively, trips down the protected Neabsco Creek may bring paddlers face-to-face with native wildlife or vigilante hero, Kayak Cop. This secluded waterway is also the setting for the company's fishing trips and on-water yoga classes. In addition to tours, Penguin Paddling LLC provides half- and full-day rentals from its facility at Hampton’s Landing Marina, which lies adjacent to several national and state-protected wilderness areas.
Every Halloween, the thick woods and playing fields at Pev's Paintball Park suffer an unholy infestation. Zombies, ghosts, and demonic clowns pop out from behind every tree, and these new inhabitants know the area by one name: Terrorville. Trespassers brush the hay from their jeans as they disembark from wagons, unaware of the dangers that await them on Walk of Terror. Insane criminals and cursed spirits cry out from the shadows, warning of the torments that lie ahead. The dead pop free from their caskets, ghouls rattle chain link fences, and gross cobwebs get in everyone's mouths.
Others may choose to fight back, readying paintball markers to dispense with the undead hordes at the Zombie Paintball Shoot. The kid-friendly Monster Encounter tasks players to zap as many hiding monsters as they can with laser-tag guns, and the Zombie Rumble tests visitors to protect their flag belts from cold, grasping hands.
Sam Hatfield honed his gunsmithing skills in one of the most elite units in the US Army: the US Army Marksmanship Unit. He crafted customized weapons for the men and women of the unit and now personalizes firearms for the general public. In addition to his customized guns, he and his staff offer training classes such as a NRA basic home-safety course. Visitors can also eschew guns altogether inside the simulator, which drops users into tense situations to let them hone their skills while safely under artificial fire.
The summer sun is shining, the chickadees are chirping, and the Northern Virginia sky is a dazzling azure blue—SplashDown Waterpark was made for days like today. The 13-acre water park, lauded as one of the best places to cool off in the area by Northern Virginia Magazine, abounds with aquatic attractions, including two four-story water slides.
Inflatable tubes meander down the park's 770-foot lazy river, and youngsters frolic through watery obstacle courses. Over in the 25-meter lap pool, American Red Cross–certified instructors conduct private swim lessons, teaching students how to tread water and convince dolphins to carry them when that gets tiring. The park also features an array of eateries and concessions stands full of hamburgers, pizzas, and sugary funnel cakes.