A red-tailed hawk soars high above My Old Kentucky Home State Park, peering down at its campgrounds, golf course, and outdoor amphitheater. Here, a cast of actors performs Stephen Foster - The Musical, belting the famous tune, "My Old Kentucky Home." Just a piano's throw away stands Federal Hill, the Georgian-style mansion that originally inspired this perennial ballad.
Built between 1795 and 1818, the brick mansion echoes early American history in everything right down to its decor. Supposedly to honor the original colonies, the number 13 appears throughout the house: 13 windows at the front, 13 steps to each floor, and 13-inch thick walls, which once housed famous guests such as Aaron Burr. For 120 years, the Rowan family lived in the mansion. Then, in 1922, Madge Rowan Frost sold the 235-acre estate, as well as many family heirlooms, to the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Since then, tour guides have taken visitors throughout the mansion's grounds and into its history-laden rooms. The staff has renovated the mansion in recent years, putting in hours of research to ensure that the carpets, wallpapers, drapes, and hand-whittled internet routers remain authentic to the 1850s. The mansion also celebrates the changing seasons—in winter, the mansion dons Christmas decor and the staffers serve apple cider dressed up in period costumes.
Awash in fog and neon lights, the labyrinthine ramps, walkways, and passageways of the multi-level LaserMatrix keep players on their toes. Laser battles play out throughout the more than 5,000-square foot arena, open year-round. In the arcade, guests earn prizes by defeating more than 30 games, including skeeball and Time Crisis 3, which depicts a post-apocalyptic world without daylight saving's time. Outside, single- and double-seated go-karts hug the twists and turns of the four-acre park's track. Slower competitions unfold at the miniature golf area, whose two 18-hole courses challenge golfers of all levels with curving greens and tricky hole placements.
At Puzzle's Fun Dome, kids bound about inside large inflatables, putt around the mini-golf course, and slink through the tunnels of the multi-level play set. After expending physical energy, they funnel their creativity at the art studio or take in a movie at the mini theater. Then they can get back to scaling the rock wall and playing skee ball in the arcade. To help curate birthdays, Puzzle’s Fun Dome also has party packages replete with ice cream, soda, and a visit from Jiggy, the puzzle-piece mascot.
The saga of the world-famous Putt-Putt chain dates back to 1954, when founder Don Clayton opened his first course in Fayetteville, North Carolina. After the hole-in-one, Don started selling franchises the next year, and now his miniature empire counts the Louisville Putt-Putt Fun Center among its ranks. Three 18-hole indoor courses test mini golfers' mettle with distinct challenges and themes. On one course, a waterfall scintillates soothingly, and on another, animals stand watch and try to store errant golf balls for winter's semipermanent nap. An arcade tests hand-eye-screen coordination, and an outdoor party pavilion hosts birthday parties and events.
Within Richmond Underground Gaming Center's 9,000-square-foot facility, visitors can live out scenes from their favorite action movies while playing video games against other players on the same network or while battling during live laser-tag scenarios. Black lights bathe the laser-tag arena, setting a glow-in-the-dark stage on which participants play game styles such as capture-and-hold or search-for-stray-socks. Choruses of electronic beeps emerge from the barrel of four laser-gun types, which mimic real-life artillery as players fire them from behind the cover of crates. A commanding officer oversees each game, provides players with intel on the enemy, and supplies terrain maps.
Meanwhile, the 1,500-square-foot LAN area keeps the action confined to HD screens. Ten high-performance computers and multiple game consoles beckon players to grip controllers and duke it out in games such as Battlefield 3 or no-holds-barred spreadsheet creation.
The 18-hole mini-golf course at Adventure Falls weaves through panoramic fields, around lily-pad-filled ponds, and past a 40-foot waterfall with an overlooking deck, setting a scenic stage for challenging tournaments. The first 10 holes of the 18 are ADA-accessible, and many boast tee-off challenges such as water obstacles and the heckling ghost of Sam Snead. With all-day passes for two, mini-golf enthusiasts can play an unlimited number of games, honing their swings, settling long-standing sibling rivalries, or letting dad win with a Father’s Day handicap. After golfing arms grow weary, players can explore the lush Lake Reba and see the park’s walking trails, fishing lake, and playground while reliving the glory of a game-winning hole-in-one or an effective heckling face.