A totem pole shaped like a four-scoop ice-cream cone stands as a beacon in front of Jim Mack's Ice Cream, beckoning passers-by to experience the nostalgic establishment's homemade ice cream, 24-hole miniature-golf course, and resident black bear, Ricky. The ice-cream stand and snack shop, which opened in 1958, crafts a menu of ice cream, malts, burgers, hot dogs, fries, and other specialties. The outdoor picnic area allows guests to enjoy their treats to the sounds of chirping birds and whistling winds, which also serve as the mini-golf course's full-time commentators. The expansive, family-friendly facility also features a pinball arcade and a miniature zoo. Llamas and goats roam the petting-zoo area, grazing from the delicious pellets that grow in children's hands. The facility's mascot, Ricky the bear, also greets guests from inside of her large enclosure where she climbs on logs and tells jokes for nickels.
Bel Air Golf Center helps duffers straighten out drives, hone putter strokes, and lower scores with an expansive driving range and miniature-golf facility geared toward player improvement. Turn unsightly snap-hooks into power-draws of supernatural beauty at one of the driving range’s 47 stalls—10 of which are enclosed, heated, and lighted to facilitate sessions in rainstorms, after sunset, or on the ice planet Hoth. The range also helps divoteers dial in their distance with 14 target flags measured to precise yardage.
When new owners gained control of Putt Putt Fun Center in 2011, they brought with them a fresh vision that culminated in modern updates. The recently revised center encompasses a spectrum of family fun; the indoor area houses an arcade—fully loaded with air hockey and a Wheel of Fortune game—beside an inflatable labyrinth of moon bounces, slides, and obstacle courses used to train armies of balloon animals. Once visitors have exhausted themselves inside the glowing laser-tag arena or other sheltered activities, they can venture outside to the mini-golf course, where faux caverns and a wooden footbridge arc over abbreviated greens. Nearby, athletes smack baseballs into orbit from the batting cages.
Combining the best aspects of amusement parks and triathlons, The Golf Zone runs guests through a gauntlet of activities that promotes warm-hearted laughs and icy nerves of steel. Armed with a bucket of 75 balls ($8), golfers slay distant target posts at the driving range or put numbered clubs through the paces at the nearby short-game area. After practicing putts and postputt fist pumps, golfers can take to the roundabout greens of the miniature golf course ($6 per round for adults; $5 for children), where sharp turns and perilous slopes spell doom for all but the craftiest balls. Three paintball fields host large brigades or lone soldiers as they blast enemies with colorful projectiles during two-hour firefights ($25 including gear), providing shelter in the form of wooden forts and a replica of the Maginot Line. Challenge land-speed records at the nearby Speed Zone, where the Python go-kart track tests drivers with harrowing twists and sneaky speed bumps that take indiscriminate bites out of single and tandem karts ($7 per race).
The Challenge Family Fun Center regales children and adults alike with a dizzying array of fun-filled games. Perfect backswings on a 22-hole miniature golf course, whose diminutive fairways are lined with blooming flowers and peppered with water hazards such as fountains and a bubbling stream (children 12 and younger $5.50; adults $7). Batters can step up to the plate to improve technique, hone reflexes, and practice telling the difference between slow-pitch softballs, high-speed hardballs, and dive-bombing pigeons in the batting cages ($2.50/round). The Fun Center’s arcade invites competition with skee-ball, air hockey, and a lineup of video games, and fortified duckpin lanes inflate with optional gutter bumpers to thwart the escape plans of crooked bowling balls ($3.50/game).
After spending his formative years helping his father to operate multiple golf facilities, John Invernizzi decided to dedicate his adult life to spreading the gospel of the game. The PGA pro opened Hereford Golf Center in 1995 with the aim of creating a pressure-free space for golfers of all stripes to hone their swings, learn to appreciate the game, and debate about which club would be the most useful to ward off feral caddies. In the ensuing 17 years, clubbers have been hitting practice balls at the center’s 36-stall driving range, replete with eight target greens that range from 50 to 260 yards.
The adjacent Lost Falls Miniature Golf Course takes friendly competitors careening past two ponds, a large stream, and a mysterious cave as they steer golf balls toward pintsize flagsticks. True to his mission of making golf fun and accessible for everyone, John and the staff at Hereford Golf Center provide clubs free of charge, sparing clubless players from hastily purchasing one or digging in their backyard for a conveniently shaped mastodon bone.
Putt the icicles off the sport of Scottish kings with this Groupon: for $14, you'll get a game of miniature golf and two medium ball buckets for the driving range at Tee It Up in West Chester ($28 value; one round of mini golf normally costs $8 and two medium-sized buckets cost $20).Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.