A hardwood maple skating rink shines beneath the glow of neon lights at Funtime Skate Center. In the middle of the rink, a checkered zone invites beginners to get a feel for their wheels as experienced skaters make laps around the rink's outer edge. The rink also does double duty on select days, hosting the Tragic City Rollers as they slingshot and skate their way toward victory and the pride that comes with never wearing shoes. In addition to skating and snacking at the on-site Funtime Café, the center houses four party rooms primed for birthday parties large or small. And, on Friday and Saturday nights, cosmic lighting and sound effects transform the facility into a world of wonderment and gossip-worthy handholding.
The sleek, dark body of the A-12 Blackbird is invisible to radar detection, but that doesn’t stop it from attracting the attention of every visitor to the Southern Museum of Flight in sight. The retired bomber is just one of the aircrafts in the Southern Museum of Flight’s outdoor collection, and it gives visitors a glimpse of what’s to come. Stepping inside, you can almost hear the purring engines from the Korean War jet or 1920s Huff-Daland crop duster.
Not only does the museum bring high-flown feats of engineering artistry down to earth, it sets its impressive collection of airplanes into realistic dioramas. The exhibits, designed to give life to the history of southern aviation, sprawl across 75,000 square feet and includes photographs, models, original engines, and the tiny gnomes that power them. The Korean War Jets exhibit, for example, uses mannequins and a surprisingly realistic mock-up of Kimpo Air Force Base to tell the story of No Kum Sok, a North Korean lieutenant in the Air Force who defected.
In one corner, kids practice cracking a safe. In another, tiny hands sift through sand to find ancient fossils, with no archaeologists in sight. Toddlers, meanwhile, wander through a surreal dreamscape of 10-foot milk cartons and car-sized paper towel rolls. But these aren?t scenes from a zany summer movie about all the adults disappearing: they're snapshots of the McWane Science Center, whose dozens of fun, interactive exhibits enliven science.
Notable exhibits include a collection of Alabama dinosaur skeletons that help us understand what life was like in the state millions of years ago. An aquarium area boasts a Shark & Ray Touch Tank, delighting visitors with an aquatic petting zoo. Interactive contraptions such as the pulley chair lift?which lets kids learn about simple machines as they hoist themselves aloft?convey abstract concepts with fun activities.
Featuring more than 20,000 square feet of play space, iJump's two locations delight pintsize adventurers with indoor attractions and all-inclusive birthday parties. After conquering inflatable slides and imaginary city-states, kids can hone their racing chops on two types of age-appropriate go-karts at iJump's original location. In addition, a 20-foot rock wall beckons explorers to strive towards its summit, and arcade games set kids on a quest for prizes. At the newer location in Crestwood, parents can relax in the lounge outfitted with a huge HDTV and free WiFi—amenities also available at the other facility—while kids safely submerge into the ball pit in search of lost wallets filled with prospective business clients. Committed to clean fun, iJump provides hand-sanitizer stations throughout its spaces.
Brunswick Zone has been a trusted name in recreational pin pulverizing for more than a century, providing good times to patrons across the country. Friends and families season afternoons with a pleasant peppering of strikes, spares, and easygoing gutter balls under classic bowling conditions, or take the next bold step in ball-hurling evolution and engage in a round of cosmic bowling, where dancing lights, thumping tunes, and black-lit gear light up the full sensorium. At XL locations, game rooms beckon with nimble joystick workouts on classic and modern arcade games.
The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame is a stately 33,000-square-foot museum, where more than 5,000 sports artifacts are displayed in glass cases and frames. Memorabilia, jerseys, and photographs commemorate the great baseball players, football stars, and basketball players from across the ages, including Jesse Owens, Hank Aaron, and Willie Mays. The museum gift shop features an eclectic array of souvenir T-shirts, stuffed animals, and local college team regalia.