It is estimated that 3,500 snow leopards currently make their home in the wild, where they use their claws and predatory stealth to scale central-Asian cliffsides in search of wild goats and rabbits. These secretive cats rarely let out so much as a purr, preferring solitude to contact with humans and even each other. Nevertheless, humans have helped their dwindling population grow in recent years through conservation efforts at zoos and habitats throughout the world.
Safari Niagara counts itself among the world’s safest havens for these downy cats. In working with the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the animal park provides a home for snow leopards and more than 500 other species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. The park’s conservationists lead educational presentations on threatened species and aim to shape children into the world’s future caretakers through up-close interactions with the park’s most social residents. Alpacas, river otters, grey wolves, and falcons are among the many animals that prowl the 110-acre facility, which also hosts an amphitheater where guests can watch musicians shimmy and shake in their natural habitat.
From bungee trampolines that launch people up to four stories in the air to fast-paced rounds of outdoor laser tag, kids get their first taste of adrenaline while exploring Adventure Village's three acres of family attractions. If the trampolines aren't enough, guests can slip into a harness and scale a 25-foot climbing wall. Kids can also have fun planted firmly on the ground. Baseballs buzz through the air in nine batting cages that serve up both softballs and baseballs at up to 90 miles per hour. Kids also carom off of one another in round bumper cars that give drivers the surreal thrill of piloting a giant hockey puck.
A more laid-back form of recreation awaits at the miniature golf course, where guests navigate through tricky corridors lined with five waterfalls and six ponds. Perched atop a swinging wooden bridge, players can study the wooden ruins of two partially sunken ships that rise above the glassy waters or the fish swimming around the murky derelicts. The course also features trivia about South Ontarian history and geography, giving guests all the information they need to finally impress the ghostly teacher that haunts their dreams.
Upon departing from Chautauqua Choo-Choo Train Station, trains chug past the abundant attractions sprawled throughout the park during four-minute rides. Had the train existed at Midway State Park when it first opened as a trolley park in 1898, its 15-mile-per-hour jaunt would have surveyed a landscape dotted with playing fields, tennis courts, bathhouses, and a dancehall. These days, America's 16th oldest continually operating amusement park shelters the spinning and twirling cars of a Tilt-A-Whirl and other rides. A three-sided, 24-foot climbing wall challenges participants to spite gravity's tyrannical reign before ringing the buzzer at its peak, and guests in the helicopter ride can adjust their height with a bar attached to the aircraft. Elsewhere, youngsters captain a kiddie boat or steer retro-modeled cars past a miniature roadway's street signs. Between rides, visitors can munch on cotton candy while peering out toward the shores of Chautauqua Lake from one of several picnic areas.
Replete with a five-level jungle gym and rock-climbing walls, Lil’ Monkeys Indoor Playgrounds Inc.’s 15,000-square-foot fun center has won more than 15 best of awards from the Burlington Post, the Hamilton Spectator, and the Flamborough Review. In the play area In this environment adorned with palms and a green turf floor, kids slip down the swirl slide, dive into the foam-building-block pit, and navigate the boo balls and punch-bag forest. As parents lounge in plush leather chairs with a complimentary coffee, kids bounce from mechanical-horse rides to the enclosed basketball court, their smiles leading the way. Alternatively, parents can get into the action, joining their youngsters at the twisty slides and monkey ropes to relive their college-dorm days. Additionally, the center’s staff accommodates 2.5-hour birthday parties with a choice of four private-party-room packages built around pizza, ice-cream cake, and kids having fun climbing and running through the playground.
Putting Edge's phosphorescent indoor mini-golf course challenges the eyes, ears, and short-game prowess of players of all ages. The 18-hole course confronts club wielders with twists and turns amid a glowing battleground populated by painted neon trees, glowing statues, and iridescent wildlife conservationists. Upbeat music channels players' adrenalin as they expertly navigate their way through the incandescent irrigation routes and prove to competitors that their putting skills, like the bottom of Lake Michigan and Celine Dion's hair, are untouchable. Both golfers are equipped with a glow bracelet that shines as brightly as the course's black-lit critters, ensuring that no visitors are hazed by glowing parakeets. Though not included in this Groupon, players may also hone joystick skills and grapple for prizes at Putting Edge's arcade. The glow-in-the-dark atmosphere encourages friendly competition for players of all fitness levels, birthday parties, and group gatherings.