Inside the pitch-black Touch Tunnel, you're completely blind. On your hands and knees, you crawl forward, relying solely on your other senses to lead you through the darkness. The tunnel is only 80 feet long, but the exit might as well be miles away. After finally emerging safe (and sighted) from the most popular exhibit at Liberty Science Center, a family could still spend four more hours at the many hands-on attractions and experiences designed to enlighten visitors about the power and fun of science.
All told, Liberty Science Center houses a dozen galleries for interactive exploration. Visitors can perform surgery on a 3D robotic simulator; tip-toe across a steel girder hovering 18 feet in the air; or even connect with more than 90 different animals, including giant fish and a family of tamarin monkeys. At I Explore, young scientists ages 2?5 learn about the world around them while launching colorful balls into the air or using a xylophone made of stone slabs. When it's time to relax, the whole family can visit the largest IMAX dome theater in the U.S., which transports onlookers from outer space to the deepest depths of the oceans and just about everywhere in between.
An endless amount of stories flicker across the screen at these cinemas, which offer stadium seating and digital sound. The theater plays films chosen from Hollywood’s newest releases, featuring stars just plucked from the vines where they grow in the California hills. Between whispered critiques of each preview, audience members can wash down fluffy kernels of popcorn with soda from the concession stand. The theater also opens its doors for birthday parties and large private screenings for up to 300 guests.
At Bar Majestic, live music can often be heard bouncing off the backdrop of darkly lit wood, shimmery walls, and wine racks so well stocked the place resembles a chateau wine cellar in the heart of Spain's countryside. Small, sharable portions of fresh tapas dance across tables and decorate the menu. Nibble decadent meats and cheeses, or bite bruschette such as spinach pesto, prosciutto, or mushroom tapenade ($3 each, $7 for three, $12 for five). Piping hot paninis pummel stubborn stomachs with comestibles including turkey breast, brie, romaine, and aioli ($8) or eggplant, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and balsamic ($9).
LITM, an acronym for "love is the message," houses a triple threat of restaurant, lounge, and gallery in its chic, 1,800-square-foot storefront. Creative flavors and contemporary presentation upscaleize its bar classics and gourmetize its entrees. House-made preparations, such as hand-rolled gnocchi with basil pesto ($15) and the hand-pounded veggie burger ($14), are abundant. Reignite the great atmosphere-versus-hydrosphere debate with citrusy chicken paillard ($18) or tea-crusted tilapia ($23). Sophisticated desserts, such as the Belgium chocolate cake ($8), assist adults in reliving the wildest sugar-rush of their youth.
The culinary wizards at Lamp Post Bar and Grill stack succulent sandwiches, stir up rich entrees, and pour thirst-quenching brews in a comfortable setting. Feasts kick off with one of several taste-bud-tickling appetizers, including roasted button mushrooms stuffed with spinach, ham, and cheese that get messy when pushed through actual buttonholes. Twelve sandwich offerings teeter appealingly on table-bound plates; the Otto Betz pulled-pork sandwich fills beleaguered bellies with slow-roasted pork shoulder mixed with Carolina-style barbecue sauce, with coleslaw and hash brown toppings to add a satisfying crunch. Five cheeses intermingle in the rich sauce that tops Lamp Post's mac 'n' cheese snuggled beneath a panko, bacon, and parmesan crust in an effort to promote inter-cheese cooperation among the warring swiss and cheddar tribes.
In 2004, five longtime friends decided to turn their love of American craft beer and classic arcade games into a business model. The result was Barcade, which unleashes night owls upon dozens of 1980s arcade consoles as bartenders pull from a nearly equal number of taps. Their rotating selection of American craft beers features creations from such breweries as Allagash, Founders, and Victory, each pint the ideal complement to vintage games ranging from Galaga and Centipede to Donkey Kong and Q*Bert. In addition to their unending search for the tastiest brews and the best games, the owners also commit to running their business in an ecologically conscious manner. At any given time, at least 75% of their beer list is made up of styles brewed within a few miles of the bar, allowing them to return empty kegs to their original breweries for cleaning and reuse. They garnish their cocktails with compostable and sustainable drinking straws and stirring sticks, and sling them atop a bar constructed from found and recycled materials. Even the electricity used to power the arcade machines hails from local wind farms, where farmers spend all day blowing out birthday candles.