Crisp, fresh country breezes rustle through the trees surrounding Eko Backen as guests revel in its many outdoor seasonal activities. During warm-weather months, its spacious, gazebo-dotted grass fields host weddings and vintage-car shows, and families putt away on a 10-hole miniature-golf course with seasonally themed decorations. Visitors pile into inflatable tubes during the summer to race down water slides, and in the winter, they navigate sloping hills covered in artificial snow. The staffers capably host events such as corporate getaways, birthday parties, and jury-duty reunions, providing pizza and snacks from their onsite eatery.
Approximately 6,000 years ago, when Sumerian scholars were devising some of mankind's first mathematic systems, a mile-thick sheet of ice began to melt half a world away in the region known today as Minnesota. Slowly, the glacier shrank and poured gallons of water into the land around it, leaving behind gorgeous rock formations dotted with artistic ridges and eye-catching striations. Perhaps most notable of these formations is a structure that resembles a cross, which inspired settlers to name its surrounding river St. Croix, or "holy cross."
Today, modern humans can catch a glimpse of these awesome sights thanks to Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours. The company's two paddlewheel boats—the 250-seater Princess and the 149-seater The Queen —feature enclosed lower levels and open-air upper decks, allowing for an unobstructed view of not only the stone cross, but also the formations known as Lion's Head, Turk's Head, and The Old Man of the Dalles, so named for its resemblance to a man's weathered face and its likelihood to repeat old stories about the Cretaceous Period. A licensed boat pilot acts as tour guide, directing guests' attention to each instance of natural beauty on a variety of tours, which range from 80-minute daytime excursions to two-hour dinner cruises replete with a gourmet meal and live entertainment.
To put it plainly, Splat Tag is massive. Twenty-two paintball fields sprawl across its 600 acres. Woods, brush, and felled trees make for strategic cover, and through every patch of forest could be something unexpected. A helicopter, a bunker, or perhaps an enemy base, right there for the taking—provided players have enough paint.
The high number of play areas encourages players to linger, as does Splat Tag's policies. Open admission grants unlimited access for the day, with referees setting up 15- to 20-minute games. The fields admit up to 200 players per day, ensuring everyone can find those of similar skill levels. Splat Tag also hosts private and special events, including an annual gathering with enough paintballs to blot out murals of of the sun.
ProKart Indoor Racing lets riders tear through concrete turns and down straightaways at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Seated in low-slung black or red go-karts, drivers are just inches above the ground as they careen around the course. Computers track them during the race, recording finishing times. The track at ProKart's Maple Grove facility runs inside and outside, weather permitting.
For more than 30 years, Raceway to Fun's grounds have offered visitors six outlets for their adrenaline. Two miniature golf courses beckon players to putt their way around large rocks and down angled fairways or traverse bridges to strike through loops and other obstacles. In a pool, participants as young as six board colorful bumper boats whose guns can spray off even the most severe of grass stains. Nearby, sharp turns on a winding go-kart track challenge drivers behind the wheel of single or double-rider karts. Golfers at the driving range launch balls over green fields while sluggers stare into the eyes of 16 pitching machines at the batting cages. Visitors can engage in each activity until dusk, when the sun setting on the horizon and the sky fading to dark blue signal both closing time and the start of the man in the moon's terrible stand-up routine.
At more than 35 current or soon to be open Sky Zone locations across the country, bouncers of all ages revel in gravity-defying flips and twists. Mammoth floor-to-wall trampolines cover the gyms, creating endless possibilities for bounding antics. Pits piled high with foam blocks allow for soft landings after springing from trampolines into sky-high aerobatic tumbles and tricks, whereas bouncy courts equipped with basketball hoops elicit soaring slam-dunk contests. Visitors also burn up to 1,000 calories per hour during trampoline-based SkyFitness classes that focus on the calisthenics and muscle-toning aerobics created by kangaroos. Other inventive activities on the courts include games of dodge ball. Each clean and safe facility provides excitement for the entire family and can also host birthdays and group celebrations.
Through the tree line at Adventure Zone Paintball, visitors can often hear the scattered reports of paintball markers and the thwack of their projectiles finding their targets. These friendly conflicts take place on seven fields, each ranging in size and configuration to encourage different combat situations. The largest is Hidden Valley, a heavily forested arena interwoven by trails and spotted with cover. The Outback encourages long-distance play with its central clearing, with players hiding in sniper towers, squatting behind plank walls, and standing awkwardly to pretend they are just trees. The small Urban Chaos field facilitates fast-paced games as teams duck behind overturned barrels and underneath the gate of a pretend car wash.