Known for growing cotton and soybeans, many farms in the South known now nurture a new crop—catfish. Converting their fields to ponds, farmers raise the whiskered fish on an all-grain diet to develop meat with a clean, slightly sweet taste and reduced cholesterol. Every filet at Jumpin' Catfish Restaurant comes from this stock, which the chefs prepare in various ways: breaded and fried in the Southern tradition, marinated in lemon and pepper, or dusted with cajun spices, like the mayor of New Orleans after their morning bath. They then pair the plump, juicy filets with sides such as hushpuppies and white beans with ham.
The chefs extend their culinary skills to other seafood as well, from Norwegian salmon to Alaskan snow-crab legs. They also work with wild game such as quail and frog legs, and prepare Southern fare, such as fried chicken.
Zonkers enchants youngsters and guardians alike with its gargantuan indoor amusement park and arcade. Rides abound, including the Python Pit roller coaster and the Banana Squadron—a fleet of small, controllable planes in the shape of bananas, just like Pan Am’s aircraft in the 1970s. The bustling activity center makes a fun destination for field trips and birthday parties.
The first IHOP—the dream of founders Al and Jerry Lapin—opened in 1958 in Toluca Lake, California, and was originally dubbed the International House of Pancakes. Since then, rapid expansion has led to myriad milestones across the company's colorful history, from introducing its modern IHOP acronym in 1973 to its 1,000th restaurant opening in Layton, Utah, in 2001.
Today, the company stands strong with around 1,500 locations across North and Central America, each one an enthusiastic dispenser of pancakes, french toast, and tables constructed entirely out of bacon. Though IHOP is known as a bastion of breakfast, it also stays open during the day and into the evening, delivering lunch and dinner as well.
Pho 2's chefs send taste buds on a tour of Southeast Asia charted by a menu of family recipes hailing from Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. Diners can start meals by sharing fresh spring rolls, ladling cups of spicy tom yum soup, or conducting blindfolded taste tests with papaya salad prepared either Thai-style or Laos-style. A rainbow of red, green, and yellow curries decorates tables alongside noodle dishes such as pad thai. Vietnamese coffee and thai iced tea sweeten palates, and, on weekends, Pho 2's chefs re-create authentic Southeast Asian desserts.
Burgers reign supreme at Fred P. Ott's, gracing the extensive menu donning both classic and specialty cloaks of accouterments. The hickory burger comes topped with barbecue sauce and smoked bacon, and the Texas variety charms tongue buds with thick accents of chili, cheddar, and onion bud (both $7.99 for 1/3-pound, $9.60 for 1/2-pound). "Ott" dogs, prepared with Black Angus beef, offer an upscale take on the ballpark classic. Try the original Ott with lettuce, tomato, and pepper relish ($6.29), or the Spanish Flyer with chili, nacho cheese, and scallions ($7.29). If you'd like to keep your meal as light as a globetrotting eccentric's hot air balloon, opt for a garden salad with eggs, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, cheddar, scallions, and bacon ($6.59). Sandwiches and barbecue bites round out the menu.
Reef KC’s certified and highly trained staff guides aspiring scuba divers with classes designed by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. PADI Master Scuba Diver trainer Braden Beller, PADI Dive Master James Lowery, and PADI IDC staff instructors Steve Volkmer and Joshua Williamson help students perfect amphibian impersonations with a variety of courses. The courses accommodate divers of all skill levels, beginning with Discover Scuba classes, which introduce swimmers to underwater breathing during local pool dives. In addition, Reef KC students can work toward open-water certification so they can effortlessly shower for hours, retrieve all the coins from the bottom of every fountain, and defuse nuclear bombs perched perilously above an abyssal alien city.