Bob and Coni Keyes began the adventure that is Green Meadows Petting Farm in Wisconsin in 1964, when it was simply Green Meadows Farm. As a "pick-your-own" raspberry and vegetable farm, there was nothing there yet to pet, especially since raspberries notoriously withhold affection. When they discovered that most farms of their ilk prohibited youngsters, they brought in animal friends to make their farm a family affair. All it took was the raves of one nursery school group, and suddenly the new Green Meadows Petting Farm was bringing in up to 1,200 visitors a day. Through the decades, Green Meadows has expanded its array of animals and family entertainment, which includes horse-drawn hayrides, sleigh rides, mobile pony parties, and more pumpkins than in a headless horseman's closet. They've also expanded to locations to Maryland and Texas, allowing kids in two times zones the chance to get closer to nature's critters.
Since its opening in 1988, Ellen's Amusement Center has provided visitors with a full range of family fun, including mini golf, go-karts, and paintball. The 18-hole miniature golf course is littered with such whimsical obstructions as a diminutive oil rig, a mini rollercoaster, and the obligatory windmill. Racers negotiate hairpin curves on the tire-lined go-kart track. A crossfire of chromatic projectiles enlivens four paintball fields, where players dive behind bunkers on the speedball courses or camouflage themselves as commando squirrels on the woods field. The facility also boasts batting cages equipped for hardball and softball as well as a redemption arcade filled with two stories' worth of video games.
Happy shouts and gliding blades echo in the cool air during public sessions, parties, competitions, and lessons with ICE at The Parks. On the regulation-size NHL rink, guests can glide between skaters and ambitious Zambonis practicing slap shots. The rink opens out onto The Parks at Arlington, allowing pleasantly tired guests to rejuvenate among shops, restaurants, and a classic carousel. ICE at The Parks also maintains an onsite shop for sharpening skates and equipping visitors with necessities such as figure-skating dresses and puck repellent.
Ripley's Believe It or Not! Odditorium boasts three floors of interactive exhibits featuring rare and bizarre artifacts inspired by the oddball collection of worldwide explorer Robert Ripley. Get a glimpse into the world of weird with astonishing and outlandish displays including a piece of the Berlin Wall, the world's largest tire, replicas of prehistoric beasts, Lee Harvey Oswald's car, and iconic items of American and world history. The museum is open seven American standard days a week.
In the minds of politicians and geography teachers, Austin is the indisputable capital of Texas. But Arlington can at least claim to be the state's capital of adrenaline-inducing thrills. That's all thanks to Six Flags Over Texas and its collection of wooden and steel roller coasters. The tallest, Titan, sends riders racing down a 255-foot drop until they reach a top speed of 85 miles per hour?and that's only the beginning.
Beneath Titan's towering peak stretches a park that's home to more than 100 rides, live shows, and other attractions. Befitting the park's international theme, different areas pay homage to foreign countries such as France and Mexico. Texas has plenty of representation as well, namely the New Texas Giant. An updated version of the park's classic Texas Giant, this coaster features trains modeled after vintage Cadillacs.
Other sections of the park are ripped straight from the pages of a comic book. At Gotham City, Batman? The Ride turns the Caped Crusader into an inverted roller coaster; the ride will be even more thrilling when it's turned backwards this summer. Elsewhere, the Looney Tunes gang takes over Bugs Bunny Boomtown and its 10 kid-friendly attractions. Hang around for a while, and you might even get to shake hands with Bugs Bunny himself.
Here are a couple of tips to help you navigate the park:
With a veritable banquet of indoor and outdoor amusements, Putt-Putt Fun Center beckons fun-seekers to its three area locations. Challenging miniature-golf courses and variable-speed batting cages put competitors to the test while pixel professionals tackle the latest games inside raucous arcades. Friendly staff members handle all the details of birthday-party packages, laying out ice-cream cups, cutting cakes, and personally pre-opening all of the presents.
The Hurst location, the largest of the three, fields many additional games and rides. Go-karts zoom around dual tracks, bumper boats bob and ricochet in their pool, and rides such as teacups and planes teach youngsters important lessons about centrifugal force.: