Falls Park Golf & Games beckons to putt-putt protégés with an 18-hole mini golf course that runs through the center of its cozy, family-friendly space. With topsy-turvy slopes that make for perplexing breaking putts, the course promotes lively competition between siblings, friends, or rival dentists. A stationary golf cart sits in the middle of the course, surrounded by walls decorated with golf-themed festoons—including a caddyshack facade—that help set the scene. Along with more subtle undulations, the course requires players to putt through a tricky loopty-loop and explain the principles of centripetal force to any toddlers within a five-mile radius. After their round, guests can decompress in one of the space's various booths or tables, enjoy a refreshment, and tune in to the flickering images on a flat-panel TV.
PlayNation is an indoor playground where kids ages 1–9 can romp with abandon no matter the weather. The indoor play-set subdivision boasts an array of imagination-stimulating apparatuses, including climbing walls to foster future Mount Everest summiteers, and swings to provide valuable experience for future careers in aviation. Younglings can get exercise, expel pent-up energy, and play with their peers, and the designated seating area gives moms, dads, and umbrella-piloting nannies a place to catch up on adult interaction while children and charges frolic freely.
At Golden Park, bowling balls tumble down 32 slick lanes while optional bumpers steer them away from the gutter and automatic scoring tracks every strike and spare. Black lights and a disco atmosphere wash over the lanes during glo bowling, held Friday and Saturday nights until 1 a.m. The skating arena lets visitors relive the carefree days of the '70s, when kids gathered at the rink after school and congressional elections were decided by bouts of roller derby.
A snack bar and tiki lounge restore energy lost during heated games, and flat-screen TVs keep competitive juices flowing with sports broadcasts. Nearby, the game room shelters arcade machines, a foosball table, and four billiards tables that often host APA Pool League matches. Golden Park also boasts the Bowling Connection Pro Shop, which outfits players with new balls, shoes, and bags for forthcoming frames.
Tarheel Lanes Bowling Center celebrates the fine art of pin demolition with sleek, modern alleys set within a smoke-free facility. Arriving visitors are paired with a pair of bowling shoes designed to leave lanes un-scuffed and toes un-stubbed, before claiming a lane for two games’ worth of strikes, spares, and stern lectures to balls residing in the gutter. An automatic scoring system keeps cheating at bay and math skills dormant, and an on-site snack bar and game room encourages players to linger in the family-friendly facility long after the 10th frame. Tarheel Lanes is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday–Thursday and until midnight on Friday and Saturday.
Piloted by Coast Guard-licensed captains who have gone through comprehensive training, Smoky Mountain Jet Boat Rides glide passengers across the waters of Lake Fontana. Tours begin with a five-minute trip to the Almond boat dock, where water tourists board their barges and drift down the Nantahala River toward Lake Fontana. During 40-minute excursions, eyes are enveloped by a vista of The Great Smoky Mountains, as vessels whiz atop still waters leaving sailboats and out-of-gas speedboats in their wake. A lifelong devotee to the tourism industry, Smokey Mountain president Nick Williams heads a crew that delicately assembles each watercraft used for touring speed-thirsty voyagers. Structures based on the New Zealand Style Jet Boat allow Smoky Mountain's schooners to perform impressive aquatic escapades, such as spinning within their own length and impersonating animatronic sharks. There are no restrictions on age and expeditions must be scheduled in advance.
Outdoor Family Fun Center nurtures the various swing-based abilities of its patrons with multiple driving, putting, and batting facilities. Customers can exchange batting-cage tokens ($1.75/each) for 15 pitches from an arm-style machine. The batting cages launch line-drive ammo at various speeds that range from slow-pitch softballs to 80-mph baseballs. Throughout the year golfers can calibrate their crosshairs with buckets of balls ($6+) on the driving range's covered and heated hitting stations or the artificial mats and grass tees. The 3-acre Bermuda grass short-game area ($8 for all-day play) includes target greens and uphill lies while enabling golfers to practice picking the locks on sand traps. The 18-hole, par 42 miniature golf course ($5 for kids younger than 12, $6 for adults) challenges putters with slopes, turns, and professionally landscaped ponds and waterfalls.