The U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team's commercially certified balloonists captain sightseeing flights over Lancaster County or Philadelphia's countryside. Each balloon has been maintained, inspected, and twisted into animal shapes in accordance with FAA regulations, setting sky-borne passengers' minds at ease as they drift among the clouds. On the Lancaster County trip, passengers soak up views of the Susquehanna River and the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, and peer down at the area's Amish population dotting the farmland far below. Before alighting as gently as a moth with a sore toe, balloonists take in the skyline of Reading as well as the nearby towns of Intercourse, New Holland, Strasburg, and Ephrata.
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.
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).
With 13 paintball fields spanning 39 acres, Linglestown Paintball provides a diverse landscape that accommodates both beginners and experienced dye-jobbers. Woodsy war zones stand side by side with urban-inspired combat fields, recreating any typical office environment. Safety is a top priority at Linglestown, with individual referees provided for each group and players matched based on experience levels, reducing the threat of harm to novice competitors and fast-moving mannequins. For those ready to stock up on gear, the paintball pro shop is chock-full of 12-ounce CO2 cylinders ($15.95), paint pods ($6), T-shirts ($10), and a starter package ($150).
Across five full days of action, kids young and semi-young will undergo a comprehensive camp curriculum chock-full of running, throwing, catching, blocking, teamworking, confidence building, high-fiving, and more. If desired, campers ages 11–14 with at least one year of tackle football experience may enroll in the accelerated-skills sections, which feature advanced lessons in the same non-contact environment. All campers are led by professional educators from the high-school and collegiate level, and each day's knowledge bowl soars even higher with visits from Eagles greats, ranging from Fred Barnett to the great Pete Retzlaff (Philadelphia Eagles players vary by camp location). By teaming up with experienced players and coaches, kids will be treated to comprehensive instruction that goes beyond purely mechanical skills.
Hillcrest Racquet Club serves up immersive instruction of tennis fundamentals for racquet wielders of all ages and levels of expertise. In Fundamental Tennis 101, new players and one-time volleyers perfect basic strokes such as the forehand, backhand, serve, and desperate lunge. Net novices receive additional tutorials in keeping score, simple strategies, and celebrating victories without sullying their capris with grass or clay stains.