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 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.
Gander Mountain Academy updates its lessons in gun safety, handling, and marksmanship with virtual shooting technology that was once only available to military and law-enforcement agencies. The ladies-only basic fundamentals class gives women a foundation in the mechanics of handguns and how to use them safely. Students start by winnowing down the right type of gun for their needs, be they self-defense, hunting, or reclaiming the garage from infestations of gremlins. Next, instructors with callused trigger fingers explain the safety rules of handguns, compare ammunition options, and demonstrate proper grip, stance, and trigger control.
Drive A Tank educates civilians on the finer points of proper tank handling and places 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. Drive A Tank completes militaristic forays with test firing of WWII weaponry and the add-on option to crush cars with 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.