Strike One Sports Complex is a 40,000-square-foot indoor sports facility, housing two artificial turf fields, eight batting cages, and a 40-game video arcade on its three levels. The center's all-sports day pass ($40 per pass) gives kids ages seven to 12 the opportunity to experience a smorgasbord of sports and games in a single day. The all-sports day starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m.—in between, participants will experience a Bo Jackson's résumé's worth of athletics. Let your daughter play soccer to the tune of his inner vuvuzela, or allow your son to half-embrace his inner linebacker during touch football. Other sports and games include ping-pong, whiffle ball, kick ball, dodge ball, baseball, video games, Frisbee, and batting cage access. Lunch and breaks are taken in Strike One's game room, containing a snack bar and kids' movies, such as The 400 Blows and F for Fake, playing on TVs.
Collegiate Basketball Academy’s experienced trainers, who blazed up the NCAA courts for Gordon College and Lesley and Tufts Universities, share their expertise with kids at the elementary, high-school, and college levels. Calling upon their knowledge of the sport from both the athlete’s and coach’s points of view, they school students in ball handling, shooting, and speed in both one-on-one sessions and group training academies. To help their clients find areas for performance improvement, they also come to games and film players before analyzing their forms and discussing potential fixes.
Recipients of Northshore magazine’s 2010 Best of North Shore award for Best Movie Theater, CinemaSalem fills four screens with first-run, art, and documentary films. Evening flicks after 6 p.m. offer stargazing opportunities for adults ($9.50) and kids ($7.50); 3-D films levy an additional $2 to compensate the hardworking technician who throws props and actors at the audience. Take in a morning movie before 12:30 p.m. ($6), or escape incessant summer sun by ducking into a matinee ($8 for adults, $7.50 for children). While you watch, crunch popcorn or traipse to the café for movie-minded concoctions such as the Vanilla Sky, a froth of espresso, vanilla, and clouds of foam ($3.50–$4), or the Holy Grail ($4.50), a peanut-butter-and-banana milkshake.
Paramotor Tours sends adventurers skyward on the wings of motor-powered paragliders. Nationally certified pilots adhere strictly to FAA safety regulations as they strap in for tandem flights, lifting thrill seekers to heights of up to 8,000 feet. To help ensure smooth takeoffs and landings, each glider boasts several safety features, including reserve parachutes, GPS navigation, and a pause button. Adventurers who wish to pilot their own glider can sign up for a solo-flying course, available on select days.
First established in 1994, Discovery Adventures is devoted to encouraging excitement for and exploration of coastal and ocean environments around Cape Ann. A large roster of experienced instructors and guides flex their years of outdoor-education experience as they provide introductory paddle tours, snorkel tours, and summer children's programs. All the while, they strive to foster a love and respect for the ocean in their customers and spark their interest in marine science and buying underwater vacation homes. The staff are all trained in first aid, CPR, and life-saving techniques to ensure a safe environment for all paddlers. Meanwhile, those seeking to relax on the water can partake in kayak and paddleboard rentals and float aimlessly among beaches, inlets, and estuaries.
RIB Adventure Tours conduct informative history tours and scavenger hunts around Baltimore Harbor, even when the horizon becomes a blur; all tours take place aboard 26-foot-long rigid, inflatable speedboats. Built to Navy SEAL specifications by a local Massachusetts boat manufacturer, the boats keep riders secure aboard jockey seats. On guided history tours, passengers snag high-speed glimpses of harbor landmarks including lighthouses and forts, whose history guides can expound upon. During scavenger hunts, guides prompt passengers to look for environmental clues and give individual scores. Captains and tour guides brief passengers on safety before all excursions and supply them with high-grade waterproof cameras to take pictures of passing scenery.
More relaxed cruises from partner Hestia Cruises, onboard the 32-foot sailing yacht Hestia, might drift past the USS Constitution or out into the outer harbor. The ship is manned by a captain, a full crew, and friendly cocker spaniel named Ensign. Guests can help with the sailing duties, but padded seats and a BYOB policy for those of age may encourage them to sit back and relax.
Thanks to Zoo New England, little patches of wilderness from Africa, South America, Australia, and other parts of the world now dot Massachusetts. The non-profit organization operates both Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, each full of exotic creatures and their habitats. These microcosms represent an ideal world, one where endangered species thrive and fragile ecosystems last for generations to come.
At Franklin Park Zoo, tigers display their exotic stripes in the Tiger Tales exhibit where guests are educated on the perils these animals face in their natural habitats. Elsewhere, thousands of plants as well as mandrills, ocelots, and a pygmy hippopotamus turn the zoo into a tropical rainforest.
Stone Zoo, meanwhile, places simulations of the world's highlands next to Spot Pond. One area focuses on the Sierra Madre mountain range, which spans Mexico and the Southwestern U.S. The elevated habitat counts jaguars, coyotes, Gila monsters, and cougars among its denizens.
A portion of every admission goes to the organization's conservation efforts, which supports projects both locally and globally. For would-be zookeepers, Zoo New England hosts various adult and kids' educational programs, and lets volunteers help in the care of zoo plants and animals.