In a go kart, you're much closer to the source of horsepower than when you're riding in a car. All that invisible force leaps to life when you hit the accelerator, gently pushing you back into the seat. Drivers at Lehigh Valley Grand Prix feel that pull as they whip around a quarter-mile racetrack in gas-powered Sodi GT5 Proline karts. They slip past one another while making 11 brake-stomping turns, all with a vantage point not afforded by watching races on TV.
The karts feature air-intake units that trap their exhaust and keep the atmosphere fresh, and the track—constructed from 1,300 used Goodyear tires and the shredded remains of Mario Andretti's learner's permit—is outfitted with three observation platforms for track marshals to regulate each lap and guarantee riders' safety. Three-point safety belts, roll bars, helmets, and neck braces also protect racers during their white-knuckle trips around the track. A full-time mechanic keeps finish lines crowded by calibrating karts to run within three-tenths of a second of one another and hanging hundreds of piñatas from the checkered flag. At the facility's bar, Octane, racers can refuel with drinks and food while watching stock-car races on the five 42-inch TVs.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, as party songs thump in the background, lasers beam over a row of 24 lanes—each home to a rack of glowing pins—and reflect off their thin layer of oil into the fog. Of course, Playdrome Devon Lanes hosts regular open-bowling hours throughout the rest of the week, when it echoes with the sound of crashing pins and celebratory sirens from the on-site arcade. Though unseen, heard, or smelled, the signal from complimentary WiFi streams through the air as well, allowing players to post their high scores online or to look up the cheat codes that enable the bowling balls' rocket boosters. Playdrome Devon Lanes also allows customers to bring their own food and beverages.
Players at Lehigh Valley Paintball wage simulated war across a variety of battlefields, choosing from a variety of play styles on both speedball and woodsball fields. The staff can also customize markers with engravings or leather wristbands, useful for proudly showing team affiliations, graphic designs, or helping identify guns that have escaped.
Cousins Dean Del Prete and Paul Sattler started playing paintball for fun in 1986. Noticing a lack of places to play or find equipment, the pair took advantage of this business opportunity and founded Cousins Paintball the following year, creating a one-stop shop for players. They started out with the only paintball field on Long Island, and since then, they have grown to encompass 10 New York locations with scenario and speedball fields. Today, teams equipped with full mask and semiautomatic paint markers wander across their 20- to 80-acre spaces, searching for the opposing team's flag. Eco-friendly paint ensures trees do not suffer lasting damage, and themes such as hide-and-seek and cops and robbers add variety to a full day of games.
Racing pigs. Hypnotists. The Marshall Tucker Band. Freedom Fest State Fair NJ is a lot of things, but it's not your average state fair. Besides familiar fair attractions such as roller coasters, ferris wheels, and carousels, this celebration features strange sights and hands-on activities. Or sometime face-on—pie-eating contests every night prove who is the best berry-guzzler. And on Healthy Eating Saturday, the fair hosts herb-tasting alongside gardening shows and farmers' markets. Other can't-miss events include the Eudora Animal Petting Farm, where kids can cuddle with zebras, lemurs, tortoises, and a giraffe. Celebrity hypnotist Catherine Hickland of One Life to Live, Knight Rider, and Law and Order, meanwhile, can convince adults they are cuddling zebras, lemurs, tortoises, and a giraffe. At night, big-name country artists such as Lyndsey Highlander, the Marshall Tucker Band, and the Little River Band join forces with local acts such as Kindred Spirit and cover bands such as Tusk, the Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute Band. Click here to view the complete 2013 schedule.
A simulation of a frontier town, Wild West City, in its 53rd year of existence, entertains cadres of visitors with live-action shows, train rides, and costumed characters. Amble down Main Street and browse the shops before shooting the breeze with historic figures such as Jesse James or Wild Bill Hickok's spittoon. In the buildings located along Main Street, visitors learn about 19th-century farming, period dressmaking, and blacksmithing. Western wanderers can marvel at 22 different live-action shows, or saunter through the barnyard zoo as goats, ponies, and pigs prance about. History buffs mimic ’49ers while panning for gold, as they comb through sluice in search of the mother lode in Egan's Mine #1.