Green, yellow, and red. If lined up correctly, those three colors should cause a gasp of excitement from players at Nampa Bowl. During Monte Carlo, colored pins mean big bucks for players who roll a strike?up to $50 at a time. That's just one of the special events that takes place across Nampa Bowl's 24 lanes. Each weekend, cosmic bowling transforms the alley into a party with laser lights and a live DJ, who is secretly a sentient bowling pin dressed up in a suit.
Tournaments take on a more competitive vibe, while other events have a charitable focus, such as fund raisers for the Special Olympics. An arcade, occasional karaoke, and the onsite 11th Frame Lounge keep the fun going long after the final strike.
At Gameworld, fun materializes in a variety of forms, from bowling to arcade games modeled after sporty endeavors and amusement park rides. Bowlers launch spheres down regulation-size lanes or the abbreviated alleys of a replica of Highway 66, featuring mini lanes striped with a highway median that cater specifically to toddlers, but can entertain competitors of all ages. After lifting bowling balls, gamers can cool down in the arcade, a haven for a veritable timeline of electronic adversaries from yesteryear's Pac-Man to modern Daytona racecars, as well as air hockey and a small climbing wall. The MaxFlight Simulator reigns supreme among its peers, emulating the jolting twists and turns of a rollercoaster ride without the annoyance of picking bugs off of teeth. Players refuel at Perky's Pizza with crispy slices or entire pies made to order, which can also power kids through bowling birthday parties that include bowling, gaming, and goody bags.
The mission of the Idaho Botanical Garden has remained the same since its founding more than 25 years ago: to foster community appreciation and understanding of horticulture and natural conservation. Nestled in the Boise foothills, the facility's 33 acres house more than 14 themed gardens. Some feature carnivorous plants, native flora, or colorful and aromatic herbs, whereas others focus on rose varieties, succulents, peonies, and water-conserving plants. Garden staff use adjacent foothills for nature hikes and environmental education.
A day at the gardens may also include a snack at the Tea House or a trip to admire plantings on the roof of the Gathering Place gazebo. Pathways lined with Table Rock sandstone wander through the four quadrants of the green Celtic labyrinth, each representing one of the four seasons. In a separate Children's Adventure Garden, smaller visitors frolic in a colorful tree house and watch the ripple of fins at a koi pond. For self-guided family tours, the staff provide backpacks containing suggestions for things to see and do, as well as scavenger-hunt items, a magnifying lens, and binoculars so children can check whether that's really a Bubo virginianus slinking through the trees.
Bowlers step up, drop, and roll balls down 20th Century Lanes' 24 modern lanes, ending in an eruption of clanking pins, hoots, and hollers. As the scattered pins are reset, the bowling alley's automatic system calculates the score while visitors lounge in plush purple chairs. Between frames, bowlers can fuel their forethoughts of turkeys with barbecue-beef sandwiches or pizza from the caf?, grab a cocktail from the Gaslight Lounge, or stroll into the pro shop to purchase a new bowling bag that matches their Sunday's best bowling gown. 20th Century Lanes also hosts events such as bowling tournaments and league play, and resident coaches lead private, couples, and team lessons.
Amid the standard clattering of pins and crunching of nachos found in any bowling alley, Emerald Lanes packs a variety of entertainment to suit the entire family's interests. At the arcade, an assortment of video games churns out tickets that, like America's earliest paper currency, can only be exchanged for prizes such as plush animals and soccer balls. Pool sharks stalk their spherical prey at one of seven billiards tables as they wait for a fresh-made pizza or slake their thirst with a drink from the bar, where three 50-inch flat-screen TVs display live sports games. Of course, bowling remains the main attraction, replete with automatic scoring and optional bumpers to keep balls out of the gutter, much like shoulder angels do for people's minds.
At The Nampa Rollerdrome, kids and adults speed around a more than 60-year-old wood-floored skating rink flanked by a snack bar, party room, and ample hangout space. Birthday parties fill bellies with pizza in a private room boasting a wall illustration of Mickey Mouse, which mysteriously ages even as revelers remain eternally youthful. Roller-hockey leagues facilitate friendly competition among all age groups, and late-night Friday skate sessions keep in-line wheels in motion till midnight. Gamers can take a break from strenuous rinkmanship in the game room, stocked with air hockey, a crane game, and Ms. Pac-Man, in which players woo an ambitious bachelorette married to her ghost-swallowing career.