Rick the Reptile Guy, the resident reptile connoisseur of Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park, guides visitors through interactive reptile shows followed by tractor rides through the rest of the park’s sweeping expanse. During each private 45-minute reptile show, guests can pet and cavort with slithering wonders such as giant pythons, boa constrictors, and bodybuilding earthworms. Giant turtles and life forms of the crocodilian variety also preen for audiences. Outside the boundaries of the cold-blooded extravaganza, visitors can relax on a tractor ride through 80 acres of exotic creatures such as zebras, monkeys, and parrots that have retired from their careers as extremely blunt telemarketers. Groupon customers can bring additional guests to their private reptile show for an additional fee of $8 per person (the cost of park admission).
As West Michigan's only professional opera company, Opera Grand Rapids thrills audiences with the gripping tale of Verdi's Il Trovatore. The four-act opera chronicles a gypsy hag's lifelong revenge plot, fraught with kidnapping, a witch burning, and unregulated derivatives trading. Nationally acclaimed cast members, including seasoned tenor Arnold Rawls, belt out monumental arias and the spellbinding "Anvil Chorus" in elaborate period costumes. Operagoers delve into the dramatic story up close in the orchestra section of the 2,404-seat DeVos Performance Hall, refurbished in 2002 to further enhance the auditorium's sight lines and glowing amber wood panels.
Under the guidance of cofounders and brothers Mikhail and Arkadiy Sarkisov, the skilled coaches at Grand Rapids Fencing Academy enlighten budding swordsmiths on the essential techniques of modern fencing. During informative classes for all experience levels, students learn the foot moves, blade work, and confetti-cutting skills of èpèe-, foil-, and saber-style fencing. Each session is designed to improve mind-body coordination and flexibility while providing aerobic exercise. A wall of full-length mirrors allows pupils to view and modify their techniques inside the sprawling hardwood studio.
Mikhail and Arkadiy Sarkisov sharpened their fencing skills on the former Soviet Union's national fencing team before earning medals in their home country's national championship. In 2004, the United States Olympic Committee named Mikhail the Developmental Coach of the Year in fencing. Both brothers hold master's degrees in fencing and have placed highly in numerous tournaments across multiple globes.
In addition to sating stomachs with pulled-pork sandwiches and entertaining ears with live music, Cellar Brewing Company's dedicated staff fills glasses with libations fresh from its microbrewery, winery, and artisan distillery. The restaurant's plush, leather sofas sit beneath its rust-hued ceiling, and at a blond-wood bar, bartenders serve house brews and a variety of wraps and sandwiches. A glass of stout awakens taste buds craving a darker brew, and the cellar's servers pluck bottles of Michigan Apple Delight wine directly from in-house wine trees to complement sun-dried tomato and turkey sandwiches and soft pretzels.
Despite the race’s assertion that, “the Old Farts course is no joke,” the 5K and full- and half-marathon event is still presented with quite a bit of levity. Top 10 finishers in the 5K, for instance, are awarded whoopee cushions for their efforts in a race known colloquially as the Who Cut the Cheese? 5K, and the full marathon crests a hill named after the actor and human punch line Chuck Norris. Amid this casual atmosphere, runners of all ages compete on wooded courses that are as beautiful as they are difficult. Hundreds of feet of elevation changes unfold as the course progresses through a mix of tree-lined trails, gravel roads, and pavement.
With 24 synthetic lanes, automatic scoring, and a full stock of rental bowling balls and shoes make Lowell Lanes an ideal alley for all manner of casual and competitive bowling. The alley offers both league and open-bowling hours seven days a week, with tournaments held on Saturdays. Between rounds, bowlers can refuel with burgers and fries from the snack counter or relax in the lounge with a drink from the full-service bar.