Ijams Nature Center is committed to outdoor conservation and recreation, supplying members with rugged nature trails, an eco-friendly learning center, and a wildlife sanctuary spread over 300 acres. The visitor's center reduces energy emissions through passive solar heating, and most of the building's surfaces were constructed using materials made from recycled newspaper, cardboard, and grocery bags. New and permanent exhibits fill this space, such as Ijams Family History—which showcases the traditional preserved birds that highlight their passion for ornithology. Inside the forest exhibit, correct answers to questions light up components inside a giant walk-through tree, and glass cases hold specimens such as a hummingbird nest and snakeskin.
Heading outside, guests enter the raptor enclosure—a sheltered structure and small amphitheater housing a red-tailed hawk and turkey vulture, who read excerpts from their favorite Looney Tunes fan fiction during educational demonstrations. From here, all-ages visitors explore a greenhouse and organic garden. Children can frolic in Jo's Grove—an interactive nature play area replete with hidden spaces and materials for building a nature fort. Hikers and mountain bikers can traverse ten miles of surface trails that wind through mature woodlands, as well as Mead's Quarry and Ross Marble Natural Area.
Visitors enter a gleeful realm of recreation and friendly competition amid the indoor and outdoor attractions of Putt-Putt Golf & Games. The emerald corridors of 54 mini golf holes meander throughout the playscape, forming three 18-hole courses that gradually escalate in both difficulty and the territorial aggression of their native windmills. The thunderous clap of bat barrels smacking line-drives resonates from the baseball and softball cages, where mechanical hurlers sling baseballs at four different speeds and softballs at fast- and slow-pitch standards. More than 50 arcade and ticket-redemption games hungrily devour tokens in the game room, and guests can sate their appetites with pizza ($9 for a large), hot dogs ($1.50), and scoops of Blue Bunny ice cream ($2 for one scoop).
Larry Schmittou, a renowned minor-league coach, executive, and overall baseball legend, traded diamonds for lanes to become president and co-owner of Strike & Spare Family Entertainment. Bowlers, gamers, and bar-goers can convene at locations across four states, each booming with the thundering sound of balls clashing against pins and confused children tap-dancing down the alley. The center is open 365 days per year, with lights and music enticing adults into the bar for a drink or snack, all while the arcade’s bells and whistles distract young ones until the lanes close. A bowling-rewards card incentivizes trips to the alley with credits for future purchases.
One runner tucks his laser gun under his arm as he ducks behind an obstacle. Just before he's out of sight, his sister shoots at him from afar, settling the score with her sibling without having to deflate the tires on his bicycle. Within Battlefield Knoxville’s 36,000-square-foot arena, up to 40 players, armed with a selection of futuristic and realistic weaponry, go toe to toe at once. During play, groups embody fantasy action scenarios during games of Capture the Flag, Base Assault, and Rescue the Hostage. The facility also includes a gaming center where players give their limbs a rest at 13 flat-screen gaming stations that offer group bouts on Xbox 360 and PlayStation3 consoles.
From its grand opening in 1962 until its golden anniversary in 2012, Ice Chalet has welcomed visitors with two prominent features as they pass through the lobby on the way to hockey practices and figure skating lessons: the roaring fireplace, a popular gathering place for chilly skaters, and the wall mural of a snowy mountain scene. Each serves to remind skaters of the long, dignified history of the chalet-style building and inspires them to carry on the torch of the sport. Meanwhile, the 75'x175' rink continues to host public skating sessions throughout the week, when its not filled with practicing hockey players, students enrolled in the facility's skating school, or octopi vacationing from Detroit.
Twenty acres of rolling, windswept pasture and an expansive covered riding arena greet visitors at Topside Farm, the site of Irvine Training. Head trainer Tyler Irvine runs the show with nearly a lifetime of horsemanship under his belt, starting from the age of 6 and blossoming into a gift for managing horses, especially Arabians. His riding lessons demonstrate proper riding technique to students of all levels in the disciplines of Saddle Seat, Hunt Seat, and Western Pleasure. Riders receive their instruction atop one of the farm?s lineup of friendly lesson horses in the covered arena, allowing lessons to take place throughout the year and in inclement weather, when otherwise horses might get spooked by lightning or a rain cloud shaped like their ex-wives.