Blank Park Zoo educates the public about the wonders of the wild by re-creating far-flung habitats and ecosystems that house more than 1,000 animals and 104 different species ranging from Siberian tigers to hissing cockroaches. Zookeepers lead chats about animals and offer conservation tips, while exhibits include hands-on feedings that allow humans to go face-to-face or nose-to-beak with hungry giraffes and parakeets. Recent new arrivals welcome curious kids to commiserate with the growing pains and early bedtimes of young wallabies, camels, and seal pups, setting a foundation for learning that may be continued in classes designed for those aged 6 months to 5 years.
In addition to raising awareness about the environment, Blank Park Zoo contributes to conservation efforts to preserve the future of native animals and their natural homes. The zoo participates in seven endangered-species breeding programs and donates a portion of admissions proceeds to several different wildlife initiatives.
ActivEdge Fitness Club's experienced fitness gurus shepherd clients toward a tighter body with two stories worth of cardio and weight equipment, an ample number of group classes, a basketball court, and a 25-meter lap pool. Gain a better understanding of your overall well-being with a health screen, a preliminary fitness assessment that utilizes resistance and balance tests, optional body-fat measurements, and a trainer consultation to calculate an individualized plan for achieving physical goals. Then guests can put their plans into action by piloting more than 50 cardio machines in workout zones equipped with several flat-screen televisions. A variety of group classes, which include Kardio Kickboxing and the pool-based Nautical Noodles, confuse muscles much more effectively than performing a triathlon in zero gravity or telling sinews they were adopted. While adults enjoy postworkout tanning, the kids' club's mini basketball court lets active little ones exercise away pent-up energy and mimic legendary video-game character Michael Jordan.
The Quad City Symphony Orchestra tickles ears with beautiful melodies and spectacular performances during its annual "Holiday Pops" concerts. Guest conductor Michael Butterman takes charge of an all-star cast that features six-time U.S. figure-skating champion Todd Eldredge as he shows off his moves and carves his version of a perfect tumbleweed into the ice. Actor and Quad Cities native John Getz lends his vocal talents to festive proceedings, and internationally acclaimed trumpeter Jon Faddis jazzes up orchestral pieces with fiery improvisation. The show takes place at the i wireless Center, with guests choosing from lower-bowl seats for straight-ahead sightlines or upper-bowl perches for enviable views of conductor stage dives.
Featuring professional staff members, an impeccably maintained course, and true-rolling greens arranged according to the position of 18 miniature meteor craters, The Ridge offers a golf experience for clubbers both skilled and woefully handicapped. A full round of evasive holes ($25 weekdays, $27 weekends) tantalizes cleek caressers and promises more excitement than a ruptured appendix. A golf-cart rental ($15) and a medium bag of range balls ($5) are included in the package, as well as a caged self-loathing that, according to The Ridge’s policies, can be unleashed upon any golfer who putts an eagle.
For more than 10 years, The Heart of Darkness has elicited scares from nearly 10,000 visitors every Halloween season with one of the largest haunts in Iowa. People from across the country and ghosts studying abroad brave nine separately themed areas on the terror-infested grounds, from a haunted playground to a maniacal-clown asylum. Each section crawls with grotesque creatures. A living scarecrow swipes at guests with a rusted sickle, causing them to flee right into the padded cell of Crispy, a demented arsonist whose victims gave him a taste of his own medicine by scorching his skin.
So committed to their duty to terrify, owners Kevin and Dolly Schults are affectionately known as The Halloween Family, as detailed on a 2009 episode of ABC's Wife Swap. Outside their spooky corridors, the Schults reward survivors with concession stands, a live DJ, and a photo booth that snapped the pictures Crispy uses for his online-dating profile.
Diamond Dreams Baseball and Softball Academy's athletic facilities double as classrooms for players of all ages. A 10,000-square-foot arena houses indoor pitching mounds, technique cages, and throwing tunnels with Iron Mike and curveball pitching machines. An adjoining 2,000-square-foot performance center caters to youth and adult development programs.
Helming these facilities, experienced instructors adhere to a philosophy known as Life-Sport-Connect. As implied by its title, Life-Sport-Connect emphasizes the link between athletics and the real world. As athletes learn how to maintain a positive attitude, work as a team, and douse their coach in sports drink, they develop virtuous characteristics that affect their personal lives.
Classes, workshops, and camps primarily emphasize baseball, softball, and football. Regular baseball tournaments provide game time between local and regional teams, and a chance to show off with home-run derbies and throwing competitions.
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