Countless readers remember the white fences and riverside scenery described in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. But fewer have visited the quaint two-story house where author Mark Twain spent his childhood, gathering inspiration for his famous stories. The spot, first converted into a museum in 1912, was named one of the Top 100 Places to Take Your Kids by Frommer's. Visitors today continue to peruse one-of-a-kind relics from Twain's life, such as his tobacco pipe, his pocket watch, and his Oxford gown. Seven other historic sites surround Twain's boyhood home, among them a museum gallery with 15 Norman Rockwell paintings that depict imagery from Twain's works and the Huckleberry Finn house, the former home of the character's real-life inspiration, Tom Blankenship.
At Discover Powered Paragliding, pilot Michael Mixer positions aspiring paragliders on proper flight paths with instructional voyages and a complete line of BlackHawk paramotors. Michael’s expertise is the result of seven years of flying ultralight planes, and he continues to fine-tune his skills by taking off on an engine-assisted paraglider at least three times a week. The gliders—tricycle-like contraptions that can reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour—allow Michael and a tandem pilot to ascend up to 18,000 feet in the air. Flights depart in the calm air of early morning, as well as two to three hours before sunset, giving passengers the opportunity to admire bursts of color on the horizon and steer clear of the migratory pathways of feral fighter jets.
Flying across the country solo is a typical mission for Superman, however, HeliSat’s instructors make this feat accessible to the common man. Their helicopter flight school teaches aspiring pilots aviation fundamentals and maneuvers with hands-on practice, culminating in a solo, cross-country helicopter flight. The high-flying program prepares pilots for the FAA private pilot helicopter check flight. Those studying for the written exam can expand their minds in the ground school program, which covers topics such as helicopter systems and flight computers. The pilots also helm chartered trips for sightseers, and the team of FAA-certified mechanics expertly repair and maintain helicopters suffering ingrown propellers.
Tunneling through the pine-studded bluffs that overlook the Mississippi River, a circuit of immaculately groomed blue- and rye-grass fairways and bent grass greens forms the 18-hole, par 65 course at Great River Road Golf Club. The hills rise and fall throughout the layout—the course offers 160 feet of total elevation change—presenting shots to both raised and descending targets. The signature hole—a 370-yard par-four—doglegs left into an island green perched atop the Mississippi's flowing waters that will test even the most practiced swings. To harness the precision required to aim past the course's narrow, tree-lined corridors and village of Ewok huts, golfers can warm up at a 300-yard grass-tee driving range, which nestles alongside a practice green.
Flying at 30 miles per hour over forest canopies may seem like an unconventional way to tour the wilderness, but the staff at Eco Zipline Tours wouldn't have it any other way. Bright-green leaves paint a picturesque backdrop for more than a quarter of a mile of cables that zigzag through the trees in New Florence to create 6 individual ziplines that cover 1,800 feet. Staff members lead groups of up to 10 through three different tours that range from the Easy Rider, which covers four lines, to the High Flyer, which rockets patrons down all 10 lines over a mile of ziplines at heights up to 225 feet.
Eco Zipline Tours’ founder, Mike Seper, not only brings a passion for his hobby and Missouri wildlife, but he also brings expertise drawn from as far away as Hawaii. Eco Zipline tours upholds rigorous safety standards, including daily cable inspections and braking tutorials, and provides each patron with the required gear. Children aged 5 and older are welcome to zip, provided all minors are accompanied by a parent on tour.
Sun Valley Golf Course stretches over a 200-acre neck of Lincoln County and treats players to an 18-hole tour of its gently rolling hills and valleys. Though players often find themselves awed by the course's scenic countryside setting, they're just as likely to recount later how they fared when faced with its most unique feature: hole five, a 720-yard par 6. To slay this lengthy monstrosity, players tee off from an elevated tee box, then must work uphill past creeks at 200 yards and 260 yards and a large tree in the middle of the fairway to reach the elevated green. Architect Gary Kern included the highly unusual hole, known affectionately as "The Beast," as a way to stand out from the courses that distinguish themselves by allowing only croquet to be played on their greens.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par-71 course * Total length of 6,607 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 69.8 from the back tees * Course slope of 124 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard