Outdoor Family Fun Center nurtures the various swing-based abilities of its patrons with multiple driving, putting, and batting facilities. Customers can exchange batting-cage tokens ($1.75/each) for 15 pitches from an arm-style machine. The batting cages launch line-drive ammo at various speeds that range from slow-pitch softballs to 80-mph baseballs. Throughout the year golfers can calibrate their crosshairs with buckets of balls ($6+) on the driving range's covered and heated hitting stations or the artificial mats and grass tees. The 3-acre Bermuda grass short-game area ($8 for all-day play) includes target greens and uphill lies while enabling golfers to practice picking the locks on sand traps. The 18-hole, par 42 miniature golf course ($5 for kids younger than 12, $6 for adults) challenges putters with slopes, turns, and professionally landscaped ponds and waterfalls.
Tropical Gardens Miniature Golf strips away the cartoonish aspects of the game found on many courses, instead situating its 18 putting greens amid a diverse landscape of ponds and blooming floras. As a waterfall trickles nearby, a flamboyance of fake flamingos perches under the shade of a tree, silently observing golfers' mannerisms to use in their upcoming novel. Aside from navigating the miniature fairways, players can swing at baseballs in the batting cages or reunite quarters with their captive brethren in the video arcade.
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park surrounds a 5-acre lake with a constellation of camping stations and activity centers. The Garcia family graciously plays host to guests who careen down the twists and turns of the park's 300-foot waterslide, play mini golf, or cast lines into the lake to catch waiting fish. Along with opportunities to connect with nature and name every tree after their fathers, the Garcias furnish visitors with space to set up tents, pop-ups, and RVs, or stay in the ground's own rough-hewn cabins. They also provide showers and laundry facilities to help campers maintain ties with civilization. The family becomes especially excited when pointing guests in the direction of North Carolina's Chimney Rock or Grandfather Mountain for hikes and breathless sightseeing adventures.
Falls Park Golf & Games beckons to putt-putt protégés with an 18-hole mini golf course that runs through the center of its cozy, family-friendly space. With topsy-turvy slopes that make for perplexing breaking putts, the course promotes lively competition between siblings, friends, or rival dentists. A stationary golf cart sits in the middle of the course, surrounded by walls decorated with golf-themed festoons—including a caddyshack facade—that help set the scene. Along with more subtle undulations, the course requires players to putt through a tricky loopty-loop and explain the principles of centripetal force to any toddlers within a five-mile radius. After their round, guests can decompress in one of the space's various booths or tables, enjoy a refreshment, and tune in to the flickering images on a flat-panel TV.
Looking to put a new spin on a classic family activity, the minds behind Glowgolf decided to give the game a phosphorescent update. Incandescent courses place friends and family amid a tropical-fantasy golf world of neon orange, green, and violet surroundings. Players putt luminous orbs through vibrant treasure chests and glimmering windmills while negotiating tricky obstacles near walls portraying black-light-lit aquatic scenes. With more than 20 locations spread over 10 states, Glowgolf's fluorescent labyrinths challenge human players and traveling gnomes.
Reaching the top of one of the rolling hillocks on the 18-hole course at Hejaz Shrine Golf Club, champion bermuda grass forms an emerald pool on the green below. Tree leaves rustle in the breeze along the course, which was originally designed and built in 1960 by architect Russell F. Breeden. Play commences with a par 5 on the first hole, where golfers should avoid hitting into the bradford pear trees along the right side of the fairway or the National Museum of Expensive Stained-Glass Windows on the left. Water comes into play on half of the holes, including hole 15, a par 3 that hugs the banks of the Reedy River. Before calling it a day, players must conquer hole 18 with a tee shot that clears the large lake and an approach shot that flies over the bunkers guarding the front of the green.
All revenue brought in by Hejaz Shrine Golf Club supports the Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children, a part of the Shriners Organization, which helps children across the country receive free medical treatment. The private Hejaz Shrine Golf Club offers an opportunity to play for Groupon customers or memberships for those with a long-term interest in the game of golf.
Course at a Glance: