Seven extreme athletes and one Royal Marine banded together to design Spartan Races' intense miles-long courses, each strewn with obstacles to test resilience, stamina, and strength. Clad in event T-shirts, runners collect smudges and stains as they clamber across mud pits, slide unscathed under barbed wire, and juke feral linebackers. Depending on where in the world they're participating, the course may be as short as three miles or, for extremely practiced athletes, as long as a full marathon.
Presented in part by Dan Clark, also known as Nitro, of American Gladiator fame, the Gladiator Rock'n Run 6K pairs an obstacle-heavy running course with post-race entertainment, including beer, music, and food. Six kilometers’ worth of collective scampering awaits participants as muscle-testing obstacles impede progress to the finish line. Those prepared to race must dance through tires, army-crawl through mud, and clamber up rope ladders to avoid barrels thrown by giant apes. The roar of spectators rings throughout the course as bystanders cheer on runners to inspire strong finishes. Gladiator Rock'n Run proceeds go toward a good cause, helping to raise money for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that provides education, support, and information to aid parents in helping their children diagnosed with autism.
Nestled in the high branches of Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center, a network of ropes, ladders, and bridges invites amateur adventurers to scurry across their lengths. Although Treetop Quest’s ropes courses hover as high as 55 feet above the ground, guests stay safe thanks to a belay system that’s impossible to detach at canopy level. During self-guided adventures, they encounter more than 70 obstacles, whooshing along ziplines, scaling rope nets, and carefully crossing suspension and monkey bridges. Before guests ascend through the branches, instructors issue them harnesses and gloves and give them a thorough safety briefing. The courses vary in difficulty and height to accommodate all experience levels and ages, allowing visitors as young as 4 to enjoy a challenge, even if it’s just trying to sweet-talk a squirrel into sharing his stash of Corn Nuts.
Amid the excitement, Treetop Quest educates patrons on the surrounding environment through plaques and info boards at each course level. The courses operate sustainably to respect their arboreal hosts; the structures are treatment-free and don’t puncture the trees in any way.
Piccadilly Circus's BLAST! show blows away audiences with a spectacle set under a capacious, 80-feet-tall big top. The 90-minute extravaganza features such death-defying acts as acrobats launching themselves out of catapults, showgirls balancing atop racing camels, and middle-aged men cutting back on their sodium intake. Ballerinas and bike-riding acrobats wrangle laughs from onlookers with off-balance antics while rotating wheels of death spin daredevils over the ring. Shows take place in a newly constructed big-top tent, featuring climate control and armrest-equipped, theater-style seats. Aggressively punctual guests can while away preshow time at the circus' petting zoo, riding elephants, camels, and ponies while regretting youthful decisions to run away from the circus and enroll in actuarial school.
With more than three decades as a marine biologist tucked under his waders, Dr. Joe Richardson has studied beaches from Nova Scotia to the Bahamas, but he still never ceases to marvel at the diversity of Tybee Island’s shores. The widely published professor emeritus of marine sciences at Savannah State University delights in sharing his knowledge about these lively shores, and to that end hosts walking tours for groups of all ages that incorporate conversation and hands-on activities. As his followers comb their fingers and toes through the sand of the beaches and inlets, they search for fossilized shark teeth and animals that Dr. Joe helps identify. He also discusses the tides, sand layers, local marine life, and which creatures eat with salad forks or soup spoons. Along the rock jetty, groups splash into tide pools to learn about the intertidal zone and the ways animals adapt to this habitat, then help Dr. Joe collect live specimens for a field aquarium by pulling in a 50-foot beach seine net and examining the fish and crabs caught in its weave. Lucky guests can glimpse the sleek fins of dolphins, and curious ones can ask Dr. Joe about his research projects, current ecological concerns, and how mermaids keep their fingers from getting pruny.
Spurred by a desire to connect with other adventurers sharing his passion for exploring wilderness territory, Reginald Mitchell began leading hiking trips throughout Georgia and the Southeast. Though he regularly helms mountain-climbing excursions on local slopes such as Kennesaw Mountain and Amicalola Falls, he's also traversed mountains in areas as disparate as Tennessee, California, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Middle Earth. Sandwiches and trail mix fuel hikers on most tours as they enjoy hiking's numerous health benefits, such as weight loss, endurance building, and stress relief.
Giant oak trees and old-growth flowering camellias surround The Daffodale Estate, a grand Victorian home built in 1897. Those trees create an aura of mystery that matches the puzzling rumors and ghost stories associated with the property. Ghost-hunting teams have visited in the past, documenting paranormal activity with cameras and motion detectors. One of the teams sensed the presence of a ghostly family with a young child. There's also a Civil War–era slave cemetery nearby, and an Indian mound said to date back more than 1,000 years.
Despite its paranormal reputation, the manor is home to more than just ghosts. The spirit of hospitality also permeates the stately house, which hosts outdoor weddings and parties that spread out across three acres of manicured garden space. Inside, a Victorian dining room filled with period furnishings frequently fills with the friendly din of conversation during the house's lively luncheons and tea parties.