Someone's little brother shrieks, mournful at being too small to play laser tag with his cousins. Another youngster wants to bowl, but can’t pick up the ball. To Terrace Sports's manager, John McMillan, these are simple problems. A crew member scurries through the laser-tag arena, holding the toy gun for the little boy who would otherwise be too small to play. Another sets up a ramp at the top of a bowling lane, helping the toddler to push the ball into the pins with a satisfying clatter.
Smiling on as his staff solves such crises, McMillan strolls through Terrace Sports, which he remodeled after taking the reins from his father. Leading the way to the laser-tag arena, skating-rink, indoor-climbing wall, bowling alley, and arcade, murals stretch down the entryway, saluting the nearby Hillsborough River with more than 85 depictions of the waterway’s inhabitants, dynamic ecosystem, and naturally occurring steamboats. The entryway leads to the snack bar, where a full menu of gator tail, buffalo burgers, and sweet-potato fries glide down countertops handcrafted from teak and embellished by solid-brass elephant heads.
Entering the laser-tag arena gives one the sensation of delving into the interior of a complex machine, with mechanical parts strung with LED lights lining the walls and generating an eerie glow. Imaginations run wild as players choose to take on roles as monarchy loyalists or rebel forces, with both sides fighting for command of the heart of the machine and firing at one another's bases. The guns, powered by unlimited ammo, unleash streams of crimson and emerald light, and fiber-optic aiming ensures pinpoint accuracy. Vests beep when another player is taking aim, giving warriors a moment to find obstacles to hide behind or nearby portraits of themselves to hide in front of. On an observation deck, cheers rise from friends and chaperones as a 32-inch monitor displays scoring and live footage from six in-arena cameras.
When you think about things to do in Tampa, outdoor ice-skating is usually not usually the first thing that comes to mind. But you can experience this quintessential winter activity at Tampa’s Downtown on Ice, the city’s only outdoor ice rink. Here, skaters can practice ice-hockey moves, figure-skating leaps, and carving the alphabet in cursive. The rink is part of Friends of Tampa Recreation, an organization that leads several activities, such as youth arts and crafts programs, sports leagues, and field trips for seniors.
Since the Maganias family opened the first Astro Skate Family Fun Center in Tarpon Springs more than 32 years ago, customers have flocked to the skate rinks for birthday parties, summer camps, and family-friendly fun. At each location, a live DJ cranks out danceable tunes as skaters wheel and glide across a huge lacquered wood floor. Off-rink, kids compete for redemption prizes at a host of arcade games, or take flight in the safe confines of a cushy inflatable bounce house. Astro Skate Family Fun Center keeps things fresh with a schedule of special events, including jump-rope contests, foam parties, and roller-derby matches.
At Super Skate of Pinellas, neon-colored lights surround a disco ball, bouncing their bright hues off its mirrors and onto the rink below. Fenced in by the rink's low barriers, skaters sharpen their skills during open hours or master basics during lessons for beginners on Saturday afternoons. Home to the [Pinellas County Roller Girls](http://gr.pn/HAypiG], as well as a junior roller derby, the rink reigns as the fun center's focal point, but a smattering of tempting attractions encircles it. A 2,000-square-foot indoor playground stretches three stories skyward, its vibrant walkways netted in for safety, and an elevated dance floor hoists visitors high so that they can flaunt moves or gold-leafed sneaker treads. Athletes can also refuel at the snack bar and exercise mental agility while playing arcade games.
Helmed by the brother-sister duo of Chanel Bellotto and John Dedes, Skate World's funcentric rollo-dome and family-focused atmosphere have garnered the attention of Lakeland patrons and NBC's Channel 8 News alike. Roller-aficionados and timid trundlers glide along the rink with the zeal of a businessman diving across a conference-room table made of slip 'n slides. Freewheelers can practice time-honored moves, such as shoot-the-duck and the two-arm flail, under the dance-inducing disco ball, flashing colored lights, and pumping tunes. Between rounds of going around, reenergize with a snow cone ($1.25), cotton candy ($2), nachos ($2.50), and more from the fully stocked snack bar (not included in this Groupon).