It is estimated that 3,500 snow leopards currently make their home in the wild, where they use their claws and predatory stealth to scale central-Asian cliffsides in search of wild goats and rabbits. These secretive cats rarely let out so much as a purr, preferring solitude to contact with humans and even each other. Nevertheless, humans have helped their dwindling population grow in recent years through conservation efforts at zoos and habitats throughout the world.
Safari Niagara counts itself among the world’s safest havens for these downy cats. In working with the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the animal park provides a home for snow leopards and more than 500 other species of mammals, reptiles, and birds. The park’s conservationists lead educational presentations on threatened species and aim to shape children into the world’s future caretakers through up-close interactions with the park’s most social residents. Alpacas, river otters, grey wolves, and falcons are among the many animals that prowl the 110-acre facility, which also hosts an amphitheater where guests can watch musicians shimmy and shake in their natural habitat.
Bootleggers Bar and Grill fills hollow bellies with an extensive and eclectic menu of American classics plated up within a warm, casual atmosphere. Share a premeal snack of chicken or beef macho nachos, a mixture of chili con queso, refried beans, sweet peppers, and shredded cheese blanketing house-made tortilla chips ($5.99) while discussing the benefits of naming children Chevy Nova, or prepare solo stomachs with the popular Texas-seasoned baked-potato soup ($2.50 for a cup, $3.75 for a bowl).
Three nights a week, black lights transform East Land Bowling into a surreal landscape, where smiles and white T-shirts glow. The festive lighting is part of glow bowling, which runs Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The rest of the week, glow-free bowlers roll strikes on the alley's 20 lanes and peruse the professional-quality bowling gear in the onsite shop.
Vermont Tavern silences boisterous stomachs with platters laden with hearty pub grub. Lubricate rusty jaw hinges with starters such as sausage-stuffed poblano peppers, a gardeny basket filled with mildly spiced italian sausage and topped with homemade marinara and shredded parmesan cheese ($8.50). Main events such as the Ox Roast sandwich, a kaiser roll loaded with slow-roasted beef ($7.95), satisfy meaty cravings, and comforting helpings of V.T. mac 'n' cheese snuggle tongues in a bed of pasta, marinated chicken, and creamy sauce ($11.95). Circle-savoring patrons may sample the Margaretta Villa pizza, which tops hand-flung dough with fresh basil pesto sauce, roasted roma tomatoes, and fresh buffalo mozzarella, quenching appetites and doubling as a disk in the event of an impromptu ultimate Frisbee match ($9.95). In addition to satisfying eats, Vermont Tavern acts as a conductor for an electric atmosphere, hosting live music and energetic events.
Every Friday night, Lakettes & Lakers Gymnastics Academy hosts a jovial horde of miniature gymnasts aged 3–13 for a three-hour jaunt across a jungle of adventurous play stations. A USAG-safety-certified staff of athletes keeps an alert eye on stimulated sprouts as they rocket from an in-ground trampoline, casting their sky-bound seal of approval on 7,200 square feet of gymnastics equipment and fitness games. Tots can safely perfect plummets on a 40-foot-long tumbling trampoline or escape from imaginary koala stampedes by coasting down a toddler zip line. An energizing feast of pizza and juice sate agile appetites before doe-eyed leapers take a postmeal constitutional down one of Lakettes & Lakers' balance-beam thoroughfares. The Kid's Night Out program lets parents drop off their children to enjoy a quiet evening devoid of lamp-shattering handsprings over the family dog.