Who said golf was a rich man's game? We didn't. It was a filthy, lying cyber-bully. You know which one we're talking about, the one with perfectly quaffed hair, a button-less future shirt, and a smug grin taunting you—almost daring you—to challenge him to an enunciation contest (he has never lost). But don't be intimidated by the way his eyes twinkle under the Canadian moonlight or how he stands on water as if he were Moses, he's incredibly self-conscious of his inability to inflect.
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Most Popular Attraction/Offering: Family fun and education
Recommended Age Group: All Ages
Featuring 85 sessions in English and Spanish put on by more than 75 presenters and entertainers, including Radio Disney performers, author Heidi Murkoff, and nationally recognized pediatricians such as Dr. Joseph Wright, Healthy Children Conference + Expo entertains every member of the family. More than that, though, the organizers work to educate families about kids' health. The two-day expo, produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics, features a truly diverse array of presentations focused on newborn care, bullying, fitness, and breastfeeding and parenting to allergies. When the panels and educational sessions conclude, visitors can then head to interactive pavilions and ample vendor booths to learn more about keeping kids healthy or to pick up fitness tips from Twiggy the Waterskiing Squirrel.
At any moment, visitors to Wilderness Falls might run into the resident moose. He isn’t grazing: Maddux the Moose, the family fun center’s fuzzy mascot, spends his time playing its two 18-hole, outdoor mini-golf courses and accepting high-fives and hugs from enthusiastic guests. Maddux isn’t the only fixture that may make guests feel as though they’ve wandered into the woods¬; the two mini-golf courses are pretty rugged themselves. The Bear Course, which hosts the annual Chicago Mini-Golf Championship, leads putters past a 35-foot waterfall, into a dark cave, and across creaking wooden walkways, just like the race all of Harrison Ford’s clones run to determine which one will get to play Indiana Jones. Alternatively, the Eagle Course leads players around winding rivers and on a climb to the top of a 40-foot mountain of rock.
Of course, it’s not all roughing it. In the middle of the greens sits the tented arena that holds Wilderness Falls’ batting cages, including six baseball cages and three softball cages. An arcade lights up the indoor space with the glowing screens of video games, and party rooms hold birthday and team celebrations.
Parent-chaperoned youngsters take their first, wobbling steps on ice skates while the hockey stars they may one day become whiz around the rink, perfecting their technique. Skaters of all skill levels practice side by side during open skates at Rocket Ice Arena. Their nonskating supporters can look on from the Lake Placid Lodge, sipping drinks from the onsite café and using the lodge’s free Wi-Fi to check an app that tells them whether their glass is half empty or half full.
Home to the Sabres Youth Hockey Club, the rink also offers instruction in icebound sports. Their hockey instructors can introduce novices to the sport or train more experienced skaters how to compete on high-resistance synthetic ice. A separate team of instructors specializes in figure skating and synchronized skating, which is the art of synchronizing your feet to go in a single direction. Youngsters can also explore the rink during skate parties, which come with an on-ice instructor, decorations, and balloons.
Jump!Zone’s indoor playgrounds envelop kids aged 2–12 in an inflatable world filled with challenging obstacle courses, fun slides, and cardio-boosting bounce houses. While navigating the plush courses under the watchful eyes of air-filled dinosaurs and superheroes, kids burn off extra energy and participate in activities that may help develop motor skills. Jump!Zone’s energetic staff supervises all play as kids climb on pirate ships and trampoline inside princess castles. Specific inflatables may vary by location but often include towering bounce houses shaped like fire trucks or octopi as well as party rooms, games, pizza, soda, and other festive fare. The bouncy center also hosts birthday parties, fundraisers, and special events.
Kids and adults sound out their musical and rhythmic prowess with individual and group lessons at Allegro Music and Dance Academy. Led by experienced teachers and supplemented with at-home video instruction, music classes encompass an array of styles and techniques to establish a foundation for jazz combos and kitchen utensil bands alike. Group guitar classes teach picking, strumming, and shredding methods to 6–13-year-olds with weekly classes of up to eight students ($240–$299 per 16-week session). Groups form according to age, with older crowds also delving into songwriting and basic rock star moves such as windmilling, power sliding, and trashing an expensive hotel room. Group piano lessons also convene weekly, with up to 10 novices imbuing fingers with basic tickling techniques, as well as theory and repertoire ($240 per 16-week session). Songbirds aged 9 and older stretch their vocal chords with one-on-one voice instruction, while younger warblers learn in the company of a piano’s finely tuned tones. The music class schedule showcases all group meeting times, but private instruction in keys, strings, or vocal chords can also be scheduled Monday–Thursday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.