When Brian McInerney reflects on the humble beginnings of Wheel Fun Rentals, Inc., he points to his childhood passion for bikes. "As far back as I can remember, I had a real love affair with bicycles," he recalls. During a trip to Italy in 1987, Brian's affinity for cycling blossomed into a full-fledged obsession when he spotted locals' transporter of choice, the surrey. Inspired, he began importing the Italian four-wheelers to a rental business in the U.S. that eventually expanded into Wheel Fun Rentals, now a nationwide web of shops that also loans out bikes, electric cars and mopeds, and man-powered watercraft. Adventuresome athletes can also compete in activities such as surrey scavenger hunts and blindfold obstacle courses navigated via shouted instructions from a seeing teammate or exceptionally long rounds of trial and error.
Sound Excursions describes their carefully curated group experiences as "field trips for adults." It's easy to see why: every outing takes groups to a new realm of Washington, whether it's the frothy shores of Puget Sound, inland forests and mountains, or tables at Seattle's thriving restaurants. The events held at these diverse locations range from culinary workshops on topics such as sushi-making and moonshine-tasting, to adventurous excursions with whitewater rafting or kayaking, to laid-back themed party cruises. For many outings, luxury transportation is provided.
Where the Wissahickon Creek spills into the Schuylkill River, Philadelphia Canoe Club’s 18th-century mill stands next to a yard full of colorful boats. Each year, more than 300 guests take these kayaks into the water and flat-paddle down the scenic, tree-lined shores or head into the whitewater rapids downstream. Whatever their adventure, they maneuver their craft with confidence because Philadelphia Canoe Club’s certified instructors have instructed them through the fundamentals of boating and water safety, as they have since 1905.
Marsh Creek Lake, lined with verdant shores and rolling hills, bobs with fishing boats, kayaks, sailboats, and windsurfing boards. About 535 acres of azure waters bejewel the surrounding 1,705 acres of hiking trails and picnic areas. Throughout the day, Marsh Creek Watersports leads one-hour pontoon-boat excursions that take guests through a history lesson of the park and surrounding region, leaving time for peaceful moments spent gazing at the natural wildlife. During the summer months, Marsh Creek also hosts kids' sailing camps to acquaint young ones with the techniques and safe practices of aquatic navigation, such as defending against Peter Pan attacks.
Just a short walk from the colonial-era fieldstone barn, a sea of green sprouts up around a small pond. Inside this self-sustained ecosystem, turtles leisurely perch on fallen tree limbs that float atop the cool water. Scenes like this are common at Great Valley Nature Center, which stretches 10.5 verdant acres across streams, ponds, wetlands, fields, and woodland habitats. The center fosters an awareness of the land through educational programs for all ages, including kayaking trips, geocaching adventures, or Owl Prowl dinner expeditions. Along with enjoying access to 500 partner museums and gardens throughout the world, members can tour a replica Native American Lenape village, or visit raptors on the mend at the Bird of Prey center. The center’s wildflower garden blooms yellow and white in the spring, and its maple-sugar house preserves the artisanal technique of boiling down flannel shirts from sweet-smelling lumberjacks.
Delaware River Tubing launches tubes, rafts, and kayaks on five- to six-mile trips down scenic waterways just north of where George Washington historically crossed the Delaware River. Shuttles ferry groups to launch points, where watercraft journeys begin along the wide river. In addition to renting vessels, Delaware River Tubing's crew leads guided kayak tours that can highlight local wildlife and tackle class one rapids like a mall cop tackling a gummy-bear thief.
During river adventures, scents of barbecue waft across the water from the aptly named Famous River Hotdog Man. The riverside eatery, founded in 1987, partners with Delaware River Tubing to give each customer a hot meal, which they can devour at picnic tables in the water.