The Arkansas State Parks fete vibrant visitors and loping locals alike with a dizzying array of landscapes, natural and cultural resources, and myriad learning opportunities at parks scattered throughout the state. Familial units with children 18 and under can flex their pass muscles multiple times throughout the year at a wide range of museums, gleaning valuable state knowledge while conversing with park guides or well-read white-tailed deer.
For the fourth race on its 2012 tour, the American Drag Racing League returns to Gateway Motorsports Park's 1/8-mile drag strip for the first time since 2010. Piloting dragsters separated into seven all-professional racing classes, from Top Sportsman to Pro Extreme, drivers rocket down the track so quickly that they finish each race younger than when they began. The SuperCar Showdown—a new feature on the 2012 circuit—pits the latest consumer automobiles against one another in no-holds-barred drag race free from the usual handicaps, performance restrictions, and rules against fiddling with rival drivers' preset radio stations. After reopening under the helm of former Indy driver Curtis Francois, Gateway Motorsports Park has stepped up its devotion to motorsports of all kinds, looking beyond the drag strip to fill its amphitheater-style seats with fans of everything from hot rods to world-class stock cars.
Located on a private airfield about 45 miles east of Memphis, West Tennessee Skydiving drops parachute-wielding thrillseekers into freefall with the assistance of a USPA-licensed instructor. For those who don't feel comfortable skydiving solo, tandem skydiving allows rookie divers to experience parachuting while harnessed to a professional instructor. Aspiring air-plungers start by learning skydiving basics with a 20-minute video briefing and short lesson from their tandem instructor. After climbing up to 14,500 feet in one of West Tennessee Skydiving's planes, you'll securely hook suits with an instructor and leap out for a 50–60 second freefall, reaching speeds of 120 mph. Once your parachute opens, you'll serenely glide above the globe for five minutes, then steer your canopy in for a cushy landing with the help of your newly minted Siamese un-twin. Afterwards, divers receive a certificate verifying their obedience of the laws of gravity and have the chance to discuss the experience with their figuratively down-to-earth instructor. You can also use this Groupon to get 10% off a DVD of your jump made by a professional freefall photographer ($100).
A rotating menu of comfort-food favorites, including chicken-fried steak and roast beef with gravy, bolsters the hearty bar fare at The Spot Restaurant & Entertainment Complex, helping to fuel evenings of live entertainment. Attendees 21 and older gather to catch live bands, DJs spinning tunes, and comedians making wry observations or facing their fear of microphones. During DJ sets, patrons can take a break from dancing in a private VIP room with bottle service or by starting a games of darts or pool.
What kid doesn't dream of owning his or her own playground? David Zorn grew up storming the fields of Paintball Park, falling in love with the game. In college his childhood pastime turned into a semiprofessional career that took him to cities such as Chicago and Miami, where he made his television debut on ESPN's airing of the Campaign Cup tournament. Shortly after college, David jumped at the chance to purchase his old stomping grounds, where, across 18 acres of pigment-spattered fields, shooters settle good-natured scores as a trained staff ensures safety.
Colorful projectiles tear a zipper-like sound through the air across Paintball Park’s seven paintball fields, which have varying themes. In Paintball Canyon, players hunker down alongside a gorge, stashing themselves inside log forts or under bridges. The simulated nuclear-waste site at Ground Zero provides hiding places in the form of stacks of barrels and pipes; Dodge City simulates an Old West town, complete with a saloon and animatronic tumbleweeds; and players can find tournament-style play among the inflated blue obstacles of the airball field. Between games, paintballers refuel at the snack shop or at the grill pits and picnic tables scattered in the courtyard. At annual events, the staff sets up a scenario that spans all seven fields for an all-day game, designed to re-create battles from history, video games, or the time Sun Tzu’s lunch was missing from the fridge.
Located on 20 tranquil acres, family-owned Fisherville Farms offers horseback-riding lessons for beginning and intermediate equestrians, ages six and up. Single, private horsecursions are about 60 minutes long and include a crash course in proper grooming and saddling techniques, in addition to riding instruction. Because Fisherville Farms' headed horsemen and women are schooled in both Western and English riding styles, students have the option of learning either as they walk, trot, and gallop over the facility's sprawling trails and rings. Originating in the traditions of Spanish conquistadors, Western riding involves a bigger saddle and one-handed rein technique, whereas English riding traditionally employs a smaller, flatter saddle, horseback tea brewing, and the donning of fashion-forward jodhpurs. As evidence of their commitment to equestrian safety, Fisherville Farms provides riders with helmets and, pending federal approval, full suits of medieval plate armor for biweekly jousting tournaments.