Mississippi Dunes Golf Links' sophisticated, 18-hole layout blankets 3,000 feet of rolling Mississippi River shoreline with manicured, bent-grass fairways and an inventive, tree-lined design. As golfers cruise over the course atop a cart or a caddy training to be an Olympic power squatter, majestic views of the river appear through groves of trees that shelter native prairie creatures. On their odyssey from tee boxes to speedy, contoured greens, golf balls must split fairways to avoid sidelines riddled with mounds, pot bunkers, and knee-high grasses—a trinity of hazards that imbue the course with a Scottish, links-style vibe. A memorable tee shot awaits at the 399-yard, par-4 fifth hole—the course's most difficult, nicknamed "Humpback" for the large mound in the middle of the fairway as well as its voracious appetite for krill—where golfers must draw or fade drives around a dogleg left.
After hacking their way across the breeze-swept links, guests can unwind at Doc's Landing Pub, where a menu of traditional grill fare, fish, and pizza sates tour-worthy appetites. Patrons can look out on the river on the Pub's patio, catch up on the day's sporting events in the glow of a flat-panel TV, or discuss how greenskeepers maintain the immaculate felt that covers the billiards table.
Named one of 2012's top 100 five-star bicycle retailers in the United States by Bicycle Retailer and Industry News, Penn Cycle and Fitness has helped its customers enjoy smooth cycling for more than 57 years. From spare parts to automobile racks, the shop carries a large assortment of bike-riding gear for casual and serious excursions, while also offering repairs. During repair classes, the staff imparts its knowledge of bicycle mechanics onto pupils, who walk away from the 90-minute sessions with the ability to adjust brakes, fix faulty chains, and provide other other helpful bike-related tips to make sure you learn how to take great care of your bike.
The professionally trained dance instructors at DelMonico Dance pride themselves on teaching youngsters to pirouette and fan their jazz hands with an array of competitive and recreational dance classes. They teach ballet, jazz, tap, and hip-hop to boys and girls starting at two years old during four- to eight-week sessions over the summer, through the school year, and during Leap Year’s 13th month. They also lead fitness classes such as barre, cardio, and Pilates classes. Additionally, DelMonico Dance offers childcare services for parents while they work out.
Skiers and snowboarders gently rise over the St. Croix River Valley in one of 18 chairlifts that grant them access to Afton Alps’ 300 acres of skiing terrain. With 48 trails—80% of which are manageable for beginner and intermediate alpinists—and an average annual snowfall of 48 inches, guests can carve their way down Afton Alps’ 350-foot vertical drop in a variety of ways, from slowly snaking down a 3,000-foot run to tucking into a cannonball at the peak and landing with a white splash at the base. Three rental shops provide guests with high-quality gear, and a snowtubing park offers a more leisurely way to enjoy the tender romance between snow and gravity.
In the spring, the melting snow gives way to the fairways and greens of Afton Alps’ 18-hole golf course, where golfers hunt pars over a combination of flat and hilly terrain. Guests can take in scenic views of the St. Croix River and its attendant wildlife aboard a peppy golf cart or while cruising down trails on a mountain bike or runaway wheelbarrow.
First opened in 1995, Gopher Hills has since come to be known among golfers and confused hockey players for its classic features, currently boasting a total of 18 holes on two distinct nines that increase scorecard strokes with wind, native grass, and undulating greens. The course's Early American layout is lined with tree-lined fairways, sculpted bunkers, leaf-covered bear pits, numerous elevation changes, and bubble-wrap-lined greens, providing plenty of reward opportunities for risk-takers and enjoyable scenery for shaky-swinged optimists. Throughout the round, golfers will get to cruise the course in style with a rental cart instead of having to drag their grumpy club-toting Sherpas along. After the game, feel free to visit the chateau-style clubhouse and its fully stocked pro shop.
PGA member Dave Colarusso corrects out-of-whack backswings and wobbly putter strokes during lessons held at The Ponds at Battle Creek. Colarusso is a graduate of Mississippi State University's Professional Golf Management program and has conducted more than 10,000 lessons, ensuring he knows the difference between a 3-wood and a stale Twizzler. Dave works one-on-one with students of any skill or experience level, identifying and addressing bad swing habits, discussing course-management techniques, and upgrading short games. The lessons should lay the foundation for students to reduce their golf score without turning "7" into "1" by erasing. If you don't have golf clubs, The Ponds at Battle Creek can provide a set.