Most buildings appear to cower next to Carolina Balloon Adventures’ rainbow-hued balloon, which rises eight stories above the ground. Helmed by FAA-certified instructor Captain Jack, who has spent three decades in the aviation industry, the balloon and its wicker basket glide over the Yadkin Valley. After launching from one of four local sites, passengers can pluck leaves from treetops, or drink in panoramic views of rolling hills, streams, and landmarks such as Pilot Mountain and Hanging Rock. Flight options include dusk and sunrise flights as well as balloon-fundamentals instruction, which covers how balloons evolved from sea creatures.
For more than a decade, The Hitting Zone has helped baseball and softball players hone their slugging skills with top-notch batting cages. Its newly renovated facility includes seven new batting cages, new token machines, professional-quality turf, and enhanced lighting. While three cages devour tokens and spit out speedy pitches, schedule-savvy batters claim one of four regular cages for a designated hour of ball-pummeling against a Cy Young android lookalike.
Dedicated to granting kids a safe, fun play space where even tumbles result in laughter, Monkey Joe's goes out of its way to foster a friendly environment for all guests. Throughout the day, the eagle-eyed staff—in adherence with a rigorous Safety Access Child Control System—oversees kids at play on the inflatable slides, obstacle courses, and climbing walls that dapple the indoor play area, with video monitoring on hand for further peace of mind. The main play area fields the bounces of youthful guests aged 12 and younger, and the Mini Monkey Zone's games and puzzles afford toddlers a chance to escape the world of older kids and their pre-algebra jokes for a recreational haven of their own. In addition to walk-in play, a bustling party zone facilitates gravity-defying birthday celebrations tended to by cheery staff. As their progeny run and jump, parents can retreat to the tranquil confines of the adult lounge with a computer station, comfortable chairs, and flat-screen TVs. Even after the ebullient crowds of tots have cleared the premises, the staff remains committed to children's well-being as they scour every inch of the inflatable equipment with sanitizing cleaners that evict common germs trying to nap in the cloud-like nooks and crannies.
Lake Norman Miniature Golf challenges putter-wielding cadets to 18 colorful, tree-lined holes of man-versus-orb warfare. The front nine gets dissected by a G-scale model train, which gobbles up stray dimpled spheres, and a cascading waterfall sprinkles moisture, good luck, and remnants of white-water rafts on the back nine. Links-lovers of all skill levels can hone their craft on the course, which features a wheelchair-accessible design that incorporates easy holes with more challenging terrain. Hours vary by season and temperature, and all 18 holes close during winter, rain, and America's annual bicentennial.
Two intimate, 80-seat theaters showcase a carefully chosen crop of independent, art, foreign, documentary, and local films, as well as occasional special events, though today’s Groupon is only valid for regular scheduled screenings. Bring a film-buff friend or humorously mismatched buddy cop and catch one of the theater’s talkies, which have recently included The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, Potiche, and Everything Must Go. Two jumbo sodas and a jumbo popcorn will keep your noggins fueled so that you can predict plot twists and your mouths full so that you don't accidentally blurt out predictions.
The themes of the seven fields sprawled across Boss Paintball’s 35 acres of woods are nothing if not eclectic. Teams may imagine that they are a posse of sheriff’s deputies fighting bandits in the saloon and bank of Dodge City, or a group of unfortunate soldiers caught in a battle in a spooky haunted house. They may even find themselves set head-to-head inside the Ark, a 40-foot boat that holds a maze, a flagpole mast, and two of every action hero. An astroturfed speedball field caters to fast-paced matches and forces players to duck behind inflatable cover on an open course.
Backed by credentials ranging from NRA certifications to decades of military experience, The Range at Lake Norman's instructors offer courses that cover gun safety, local gun laws, and first aid. Some courses incorporate the Meggitt XVT law-enforcement simulator, a training tool used by the U.S. Government, U.S. embassies around the world and local law enforcement agencies. The Range also hosts special events, such as ladies' nights and bowling-pin shoots.