Fishing and boating activities abound at Pioneer Beach Resort, which has sheltered vacationers inside rustic cabins near the wooded shores of Spirit Lake and Okoboji Lake since the 1920s. Sprinkled across the resort's idyllic grounds, eight air-conditioned cabins each regale guests with a full kitchen, barbecue, and picnic table. As kids frolic across a playground, fishermen can stock up on snacks and live bait at the onsite, full-service bait-and-tackle shop before rehearsing largemouth-bass calls from atop ample fishing benches on a boating dock stretching 100 feet into the glistening waters. Resort guests may also charter pontoons by the hour ($100 for the first hour, $50 per hour after the first). Pioneer Beach Resort is nestled in the heart of the Iowa Great Lakes region, which brims with outdoor recreation, art galleries, live music, and a historic amusement park.
There’s nothing more exhilarating, albeit unnatural, than hurtling towards earth unimpeded. The instructors at Southern Minnesota Skydiving agree, and by adhering to the United States Parachute Association’s safety standards, they facilitate tandem and solo skydives. For tandems, the pros regulate the entire jump, from 45 seconds of free-fall to about four minutes of floating beneath a large ram-air parachute, which enables soft landings. For the thrill seeker who’d rather fly alone, experienced instructors offer the Static Line course to teach students how to skydive solo or explore options for prosthetic wing surgery.
At Gander Mountain's indoor archery ranges, bowmen sheltered from the elements send arrows whistling toward targets year-round. During one month of unlimited access, clients can work to boost their range, improve accuracy, and nail a prize circle to stuff and mount on their living-room wall. Customers can redeem up to three Groupons to maintain Robin Hood physiques throughout the harsh winter with multiple months of practice. Though not included in today’s Groupon, the range also features a variety of archery services such as tune-ups, custom-built arrows, and spaghetti strainers for recapturing runaway bowstrings.
Drive A Tank teaches civilians how to handle tanks by placing them at the controls of an FV433 Abbot tank. Comprehensive tank experiences include lessons on the history of its use, from World War I up to its present function as the vehicle of choice for the most aggressive holiday shoppers. During certain packages, tanksters complete their militaristic forays by test firing WWII-era weaponry or crushing cars beneath behemoth treads.
A rustic red barn nestled in the fields of New Prague stands as the centerpiece of Next Chapter Vineyard. Around it stands six acres of vineyards blooming with marquette, frontenac, gris, and le crescent grapes. On these grounds, the Tulloch family mashes, presses, and ferments their varietals into a range of red and white wines. They often demonstrate their process to curious visitors and incorporate old winemaking techniques, such as grape stomping and wine bottling. Nearby, guests can pick apples at the Montgomery Apple Orchard.
The course at Emerald Hills Golf Club is sculpted into hilly terrain that presents frequent doglegs, fast greens, and stone-lined water hazards. Though the relatively short, flat first hole would lead first-timers to believe otherwise, the course rewards conservative play as most fairways bend to some degree and require distance control to avoid unfavorable lies in the rough or in an alternate reality run by basketball-playing cartoon characters. The par 5 fifth hole, the course's most difficult hole, presents an uphill dogleg left onto an elevated, two-tiered green with breaks that are difficult to read. Emerald Hills Golf Club also features pristine practice facilities, lessons with resident golf pros, and an onsite clubhouse with a banquet hall and a cocktail lounge.
Course at a Glance:
18-hole, par 72 course
Total length of 6,632 yards from the back tees
Course rating of 72.6 from the back tees
Course slope of 125 from the back tees
Four sets of tees per hole
At Inspired Aging, Caroline Wood helps clients age with grace and good health intact. Her main weapon against aging is yoga for senior citizens, which keeps the body strong and can assuage age-related issues such as arthritis or knees that creak with every high-kick. To further ease the aches and pains that accompany aging, Caroline performs the healing art of reiki and massage therapist Lee kneads out any lingering knots.