Great Wolf Lodge sits next to the thunderous Kansas Speedway, host of two stock-car-race weekends a year as well as the brand-new Livestrong Sporting Park, home of the high-flying Sporting Kansas City Major League Soccer team. Guests can easily walk or not as easily somersault from the hotel to either location. Just 15 miles east lies Kansas City, Missouri. The “world’s barbecue capital” is stocked with more than 100 barbecue joints that serve traditional slow-smoked meats and fish. Burnt ends, the crispy tips of a brisket, are a noted regional delicacy. Most locals prefer to wash up after a saucy dinner by splashing around in 1 of more than 200 fountains, a number that places Kansas City in the same watery pantheon as Rome. Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
Inside Element Fitness, the lime-green walls of the cardio room energize guests dashing away on treadmills as the yoga studio’s crisp white walls and glowing orb lights soothe yogis. The pool room echoes with splashing as guests stretch during pool aerobics classes; the dry sauna nearby remains quiet, letting guests absorb dry heat without listening to the heavy-metal albums played in traditional saunas. Stationary bikes adorn the spinning studio. Meanwhile, in workout studios lined with free weights, personal trainers make use of their professional weightlifting or triathlon experience during one-on-one personal-training sessions or group fitness classes.
At Midwest Aquatics, no one lounges poolside. Instead, students, 10 years old or older, learn scuba skills such as buoyancy control, underwater breathing, and aquatic movement in an on-site pool custom built for diving. Highly certified and trained instructors draw on more than two decades of scuba experience to teach underwater exploration in courses that range from introductory scuba sessions to open water dives, complete with off-site certification dives in locales such as Bali, Curacao, and local brewery tanks.
A 36-month-old strokes his arms through clear water as his mother gently holds him afloat with her hands. Over the past few swim sessions, the little student has learned to submerge his face in the water and float on his belly as well as his back. After he and his fellow swimmers finish their parent/baby swimester, it's likely they may never experience the fear of swimming that many children begin to encounter around age 3. This type of insight into the developmental importance of swimming is what informs the instruction at Swim-U, Leesburg's child-oriented swimming school. The school's curriculum opens its lessons to newborns as young as 6 months old and to kids up to age 12 to instill water skills and the joys of fitness swimming from a young age. The Swim-U team comprises upbeat swimming professors who are the brains behind the company's special brand of instruction in swimming, as well as in child CPR and first-aid training and dunk-tank pitching.
Reef KC’s certified and highly trained staff guides aspiring scuba divers with classes designed by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors. PADI Master Scuba Diver trainer Braden Beller, PADI Dive Master James Lowery, and PADI IDC staff instructors Steve Volkmer and Joshua Williamson help students perfect amphibian impersonations with a variety of courses. The courses accommodate divers of all skill levels, beginning with Discover Scuba classes, which introduce swimmers to underwater breathing during local pool dives. In addition, Reef KC students can work toward open-water certification so they can effortlessly shower for hours, retrieve all the coins from the bottom of every fountain, and defuse nuclear bombs perched perilously above an abyssal alien city.