Katrina Wells was frustrated. The new mother loved spending time with her child but still longed for a place to relax and sip coffee. Family-friendly play centers had been widespread when she lived in South Florida, but they seemed entirely absent from her new home in Long Island. Undeterred, Wells took initiative and designed a business that would cater to children and their parents.
Across Le Play Cafe Indoor Play Area & Coffee Lounge's 2,000 square feet, imaginations spring to life at performance stages, dress-up areas, and pretend kitchens. A climbable play structure helps little ones to develop gross motor skills, and age-appropriate toys delight toddlers. On the other side of the play center, scents of fresh roasted coffee fill the café as parents relax, socialize, and share photos of their baby dolls. In addition to cheering children and adults, Wells' brainchild also puts a smile on Mother Nature's vine-covered face. Her eco-friendly facility boasts LED lighting and oversize windows that help to reduce energy costs.
A veritable mountain greets climbers inside The Rock Club, challenging them to scale its 40' high face without speaking a single word. After pulling their eyes away from the main wall, guests discover the gym's other rocky offerings, including 80 climbing stations, more than 200 individual routes, and muscle-testing bouldering cliffs. Experienced staff members with a passion for climbing roam the gym, eager to help veteran climbers reach new heights, introduce new climbers to the sport during beginners' classes, or describe the scent found at the top of the Himalayan Mountains. The Rock Club also offers lead climbing, slacklining, and movement classes as well as a kids program with a competitive climbing team, junior programs, and camps.
At The Cliffs at Valhalla, professional setters map out more than 200 new climbs every three months. It’s part of the gym’s mission to keep routes as challenging and engaging as those found outdoors.
Though ideal for skilled climbers, the gym caters to first-timers too. Certified instructors lead adult classes in climbing basics. Staff members guide customers to the proper gear and yodeling song books at the pro shop, and they even created a fitness area with climbing-specific cardio training equipment and yoga classes to complement the climbing terrain.
The Cliffs at Valhalla also readies kids for climbing. Climbing camp lets kids experience indoor and outdoor climbing, and award-winning birthday parties furnish groups with private climbing walls and a 1:5 instructor to student ratio.
Passengers lounge on the wooden benches inside the vintage red and green trolley, gazing through arched windows to watch the scenery pass. Though old-fashioned, this trolley isn't limited by rails; North Fork Trolley Company's drivers freely navigate the rolling country roads of Twin Forks and North Fork. On guided tours, they usher groups to the countryside's private wineries and vineyards, where they may stop for tastings, lunches, and in-depth tours that demystify the fermentation process and reveal which wines can give you the courage to ask if you can try a barrel on for size. Tours also roll into the scenic, historic villages of Greenport, Southampton, and Sag Harbor for sightseeing and walking tours. Upon request, the company can design personalized trolley charters for events such as weddings, birthdays, and family reunions.
Why build a business based purely on surprising people? “Because life moves fast and we don’t play nearly as much as we should,” say Surprise Industries founders and sisters Kat Dudina and Tania Luna on their website. By setting up surprises for big groups and individual clients alike, the duo, along with their imaginative staff, encourages the giddiness of play that often gets lost in the shuffle of adult responsibilities. With only a location and a time to arrive, participants are swept into an unpredictable adventure that may involve anything from attending an ice-sculpting workshop to being elected chairman of the Federal Reserve.