Nestled beneath the towering arches of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, a weather-beaten dock supports rows of kayaks in a rainbow of colors. Paddlers disembark onto the Potomac, threading through the bridge’s arches and taking in the lush riverside scenery. Key Bridge Boathouse’s team of water conquerors is on hand to instruct new kayakers and paddleboarders in taming the river’s gentle waves. Upon returning to shore, guests are invited to make use of the dock’s electric grills to cook burgers and dry their hair.
Laser tag typically summons images of bulky plastic guns, LED vests that flash red like broken alarm clocks, and cheesy black lights. In the parlance of machismo, Sudden Combat eats joints like that for breakfast. Its extreme laser-tag skirmishes are closer to real military sorties than strip-mall fracas. Sudden Combat is the first gaming spot in Northern Virgina to employ the iCombat/irTactical system—the same laser-training system used by military and law-enforcements agencies and featured on the Outdoor Channel's Elite Tactical Unit: SWAT. Locked and loaded with realistic gear that has the look, feel, and recoil of military M4s and M16s, the advanced weaponry enhances the game's intensity and realism. For the electromagnetic averse, Sudden Combat ups the paintball experience with indoor paintball Reball, which delivers the thrills and stings of a paintball match, but doesn't leave players looking like the ate at a Sherwin Williams buffet.
As a child, Michael O’Daniel would sometimes spend his days among giant aircraft in a hangar as his father, a Pan Am pilot out of Miami, was at work. Michael found himself daydreaming about one day being able to fly; by 1980 he was a private pilot. Eventually he became taken with another form of flight—paragliding. He founded Powered Paragliding USA and over the years has spread his wings over Peru, Costa Rica, and he once completed a flight across the entire length of the Panama Canal.
A few years ago, Michael was joined at Powered Paragliding by Brian Goff, another pilot. Goff has hundreds of hours of flying experience; he's been behind the controls of everything from helicopters and airplanes to aerobatic planes and hot air balloons. Today, Michael and Brian man flights for clients of all experience levels. They can fly tandem with beginners, or train budding para-pilots on technique, safety, and how to switch lanes with birds. Expert flyers can take to the skies by purchasing their own paragliders and paramotors from the company.
Springfield residents have been bringing their towels and tennis racquets to Springfield Swimming and Racquet Club since 1955. The club, which was significantly revamped in 1992, now boasts four regulation-size tennis courts and three outdoor pools, including a kid's pool and a 25-meter pool with six lanes, two diving boards, and one friendly beluga whale. The center's swim team, the Springfield Tigersharks, coordinates youth swim meets and fitness classes. The club complements its activities with amenities such as a bath house and a shaded pavilion with picnic tables and grills.