The Kalamazoo Wedding Affair sets brides-to-be and their fiancés loose to explore, meet, and bounce ideas off some of west Michigan's most sought-after wedding experts. Dozens of exhibitors converge to create a buffet of possibilities that range from bridal fashions, cakes, and catering to gift registries and photographers. Couples can also scope out postceremony services, including reception halls and honeymoon destinations.
Intrepid guests descend upon the four eerie haunted houses at Nights of Fear, voted the area's scariest venue by the Grand Rapids Press, boldly making their way through 80,000 square feet of terrifying spirits, lunatics, and extraterrestrials. Groups grasping through the Brainfield Sanitarium navigate decrepit hallways inhabited by deranged maniacs, and Rusty's Revenge traps patrons in a warehouse lab of sinister experiments, testing innocent subjects on the periodic table of elements. For terror with added depth, customers can tiptoe throughout the 3-D Maniac Mansion, where countless spirits patrol Victorian furnishings, or brave otherworldly fiends in Contact: Alien Encounter in 3-D, which is the site of a mysterious aircraft crash.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Of the many 5K events held in the midwest, only one requires runners to sully themselves slipping down a mudslide. The annual Eat Dirt Mud Run sends thousands of runners through a grueling and characteristically muddy 5K landscape. The hosts have devised a one-lap course replete with slippery hill climbs, cargo nets, multiple mud pits, and fields of tires to challenge runners' endurance and grit. As adult participants—some donning costumes—sprint and stumble through the course, child runners can test their mettle in the Kids Mini Mud Run, in which competitors 6–12 traipse through a smaller, one-mile course. After concluding the race, runners rinse off at the course's wash station and can describe their thrilling journeys to fellow racers and earthworms they befriended during their muddy plunge.
In common parlance, an all-nighter means you've greeted the sunrise after a long night of work. Not so at Skynet Gaming, whose Friday all-nighters are dedicated to play. From 8 p.m. to 8 a.m., guests can nom on pizza and pop while playing the latest PC, Xbox 360, or Nintendo Wii titles against fellow Skynet attendees and gamers out in Internetland. Individual gaming stations accommodate players with high-definition displays, as well as comfy sofas and chairs.
Skynet hosts open gaming sessions until 2 a.m. the rest of the week, as well as tournaments, league games, and rounds of board and card games such as Magic: The Gathering. And, its in-house tech wizards can repair any malfunctioning computers or consoles, so gaming can pick right up when you get home.
In 1996, a group of golfers formed a membership program that offers deeply discounted greens fees at a network of affiliated golf courses in West Michigan. The program is PGAC, and the result provides two-for-one greens fees at more than 20 courses. After reserving tee times any day of the week, golfers can load up their clubs and spare mannequin legs to test their skills on the challenging designs of renowned regional courses such as The Highlands, Lynx, Macatawa Legends, and Diamond Springs. Along with saving golfers up to $7,500 and helping local courses increase their waterways? diet of golf balls, PGAC hosts fundraisers for local schools and organizations.