Located on the Montour Trail—a 46-mile stretch of flat, non-motorized trail paved with crushed limestone—The Tandem Connection stands as a convenient stopping point to outfit customers for two-wheeled excursions. Folks can stop in for daily or hourly rentals of 3-, 7-, or 21-speed bikes, such as retro-styled tandems from Sun Bicycles and pint-size rides from KHS Bicycles. The bikes feature hand or coaster brakes and may be attached with kid-friendly add-ons such as tagalongs and trailers. Once atop bikes, riders confront bridges and tunnels on their scenic adventure before heading back to Tandem for trail snacks, locally roasted coffee, and weekend barbecue.
As the class-A short-season affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, the Mahoning Valley Scrappers have prepared rising stars for the big leagues since 1999. The feisty squad has worked their way through some tough seasons in the New York-Penn League, including four appearances in the league finals and a league championship in 2004. Now entering their 15th season, the Scrappers still play their home games at Eastwood Field, which showcases a view of verdant woods and the sasquatches living in peace beyond the outfield wall for crowds of up to 6,300 fans.
Founded by NFL veteran Don Beebe and athletic expert Dr. Jeffrey Schutt, House of Speed forges sportspeople of all stripes into world-class athletes with specialized equipment and personalized performance tracking. Once Steve Halloran and his crew arrange sweat donors into small groups of 5–25 (with at least one trainer for every 10–15 athletes), he targets a slew of individual body areas with an optimized warm-up. The PowerPull resistance machine teaches nimble feet to run with correct form and mechanics and the Bear squat machine's angled footplate takes stress off of the back and knees and boosts vertical propulsion for more satisfying high-fives with blimp pilots. Dartfish instant video feedback lets trainees review every juke, jump, and follow-through. House of Speed's proprietary MySpeed web application tracks progress using comprehensive data from eight core drills, allowing participants to compare their stats with those of nationwide competitors.
Since opening in 1998, House of Speed locations have trained more than 40,000 athletes, including Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and former Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner. The Chicago Bears, St. Louis Rams, and the University of Illinois have also used House of Speed's off-season training programs to keep players out of summer bicycle gangs and seedy all-night fireplace stores.
Steel City Airsoft's safety-conscious staff hosts adrenaline-pumping showdowns for recreational warriors as well as for law enforcement or military groups looking to train in a close-quarters, indoor environment. A modular building design allows staffers to reorient the walls, hallways, and doorways that honeycomb the 15,000-square-foot facility, ensuring unpredictable, action-packed bouts amid a hail of whistling pellets. With an emphasis on responsible play, the staff members steadfastly enforce the facility's rules and advise patrons either to wear clothing that covers any bare skin or to don their family's coat of arms. Steel City Airsoft is open on Fridays from 5 p.m.–midnight, Saturdays from noon to midnight, and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.
Securely fastened into a tandem-parachute system, an instructor and a pupil tumble from a Skylane Cessna 182, a floating sensation running through their bodies for the 45- to 60-second plummet. Shortly thereafter, a more experienced jumper takes the leap from 10,500–13,500 feet as an instructor falls separately alongside to ensure that nothing goes awry between the departure of the aircraft and the opening of the chute.
Back on solid ground, a 25-acre drop zone reunites divers post-free-fall, and in the distance, Skydive Pennsylvania's pilots shuttle other divers skyward in a fleet of aircrafts that includes a Super Pilatus Porter, which can ascend 13,500 feet in 15 minutes. The on-ground personnel photograph and videotape all tandem and instruction-assisted-free-fall dives, converting their footage into professionally edited videos, DVDs of stills, and screensavers for skydiving-prone laptops.
HappyFeet founder Andy Barney boasts a lengthy resumé: the Oxford, England, native was a semipro soccer player by the age of 16, studied physical education in college, and coached youth soccer for 10 years before moving to the U.S. In America, he coached at Avila University and wrote the book Training Soccer Legends, but one day he found his extensive experience challenged by an unlikely group—preschoolers. He had agreed to spend what he thought would be an easy afternoon leading tots in a soccer workshop, only to end up exhausted yet inspired to design a curriculum specifically for younger kids.
His research eventually led to HappyFeet, where instructors play with kids aged 2–6 using a proprietary lesson plan the company dubbed “story time with a soccer ball.” Each kid receives a ball, and beyond practicing basic skills such as dribbling, striking, and autograph signing in a noncompetitive setting, the incorporation of stories, nursery rhymes, and songs enables kids to exercise both physical and mental faculties. The 45-minute indoor classes, which were reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune, are held onsite at preschools and sports facilities such as PISA. Little ones can also be enrolled in HappyFeet’s leagues, where a 15- to 20-minute mini class precedes a 30-minute game.
Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1896, and its reputation was as big as its sound right from the start. Andrew Carnegie was an early backer, and reportedly claimed that it was the best orchestra in the country. More than a century later, the organization still enjoys its status as a nationally renowned organization. And the PSO continues to take pride in its acclaim—perhaps expanding on Carnegie's earlier view, current Music Director Manfred Honeck called the company "one of the world's finest orchestras."
The long-lived PSO makes its home in an equally historic venue. Converted from an opulent movie palace in 1971, when Americans swore off movies in favor of high culture, Heinz Hall proves itself an exceptional music venue. Fine acoustics please ears, while eyes take in glittering chandeliers and glints of gold leaf.