At Airwolf Aviation, founder Michele Rash and her team of instructors keep one thought in mind when training students to become certified pilots: "Would I sit in the back seat while he or she flew me around?" This question guides them while they tailor training for each student and has resulted in a pass/fail rate of 97% over the past three years.
With three flight schools, a fleet of Cessna airplanes, and a multi-engine Piper Aztec E, the instructors lead courses that qualify students for private, instrument, commercial, and multi-engine pilot licenses. They also help professional pilots earn flight-instructor certifications. When they’re not teaching lessons, Airwolf's team introduces clients to aviation through discovery flights and city tours that fly to the governor's floating mansion.
A Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, the Charlotte Knights develop budding professional ballplayers and earn devout Knights fans in their home—the 10,002-seat Knights Stadium. The Knights have a storied history and an impressive list of orb-striking alumni, including Cal Ripken Jr., Manny Ramirez, and Jon Garland. Visitors take home free giveaways during Friday-night promotions, and mascot Homer the Dragon roams the stadium on his four-wheeler, tossing T-shirts, bopping people with his tail, and advocating for anthropomorphized-dragon civil liberties.
Once the lights dim in the main auditorium at Camelot Cinemas, eyes can’t help but fixate on the glimmering digital images that flicker across the towering 60-foot screen. Nestled comfortably in reclining chairs, audience members dig into buckets of popcorn and gape at the latest blockbuster films while a THX-certified sound system croons a crystal-clear soundtrack. Theatergoers enjoy a similar experience in Camelot Cinemas’ other auditoriums, where they can laugh through cheerful romantic comedies, find the courage to watch petrifying horror flicks, and fight back sobs during the heartwarming premovie message about turning off your cell phone.
The Pavilion cultivates every species of physical activity within its 66,000-square-foot indoor complex and adjacent outdoor fields. The eclectic indoor space hosts soccer, volleyball, and curling face-offs, as well as a year-round ice-skating facility, bounce house, and inline-skating space. Fledgling ice skaters slip and slide during public skating sessions or take part in the U.S. Figure Skating Association's basic skills program to grease their triple axels. As the temperature rises, members make a mad dash outdoors to one of six tennis courts and three soccer fields, or hail a ride on George, The Pavilion's historic miniature passenger train. The complex's Boundless Playground offers a space where children with disabilities can be included in play thanks to accessible slides, swings, and climbing structures.
Benchwarmers Sports Complex helps athletes stay off the bench with a wide range of training facilities. Four pitching tunnels transform string bean arms into powerful cannons, while two automated batting cages and three live arm cages allow hurled baseballs to hone swings, instead of inflated puffer fish, which will just hone your fear of seafood restaurants. Elsewhere, its basketball court boasts adjustable rims and a gigantic electronic scoreboard, and its indoor turf fields feature granular rubber infill to support players as they work up a sweat during games of baseball, football, soccer, and lacrosse.
Hollywild Animal Park's family of animal lovers care for a stable of four-legged, photogenic stars. Dozens of resident critters include lions, a white tiger, and Tank, the white rhino best known for giving its spots to an outcast cow in an act of zoological altruism. Trips on the Outback Safari ride breeze past 70 acres of rolling terrain, and visitors can purchase feed to bestow upon hungry quadrupeds including fallow deer, zebras, and Scottish Highlanders. A specialized feeding area provides additional opportunities to bottle feed the next generation of mammalian stars, and a picnic area gives humans chances to gloat about opposable thumbs as they nosh nimbly on sandwiches.
Golfers traversing Creek Golf Club's 6,625-yard course enjoy plateaued tee boxes and fairways lined with mature trees. The 18-hole course showcases smooth, diamond Zoysia grass greens that tightly swathe the terrain's parkland-style contours like skinny jeans on the Jolly Green Giant's hips.
Golf balls fall like hail from the skies above the Club's driving range, where synthetic mats facilitate practice during inclement weather and grass tees provide a natural lie for swing rehearsals. The range serves as the classroom for lessons with PGA professional Mike Byce, who assists those looking to add distance to their drives or transition from a conventional putter to a belly putter or a sawed-off curtain rod.
After a day at the links, guests can refuel at the Club's bar and grill, which serves burgers, salads, cold-cut sandwiches, and other classic eats.