It's quite possible that many of the parents who bring their kids to RollerLand Skate Center spent their own childhoods at the rink. The Trevena family has run RollerLand for more than 30 years, long before America elected its first roller-skating president. In that time, the entertainment center has hosted countless parties, charity fundraisers, and regular skate sessions.
Today, RollerLand carries its past into the present. DJs play Top 40 hits as skaters roll across the 12,000 sq. ft. skating floor during open skates or Teen Nights on Fridays. Away from the rink, guests can find staple amenities, such as a concession stand that serves nachos and corndogs, arcade games that spew out redemption tickets, and colorful tubes that snake throughout a three-story play structure. One thing stands out, however¬—a large vault door that looks like something out of a heist movie. Inside waits the Laser Maze, an ever-changing game that challenges its participants to stretch and bend around bright green beams of light.
The sprawling 8-acre family-friendly amusement park dubbed Funworks initially began as a miniature-golf course, Putt-Putt Golf, before expanding to include a coin-operated-game room in 1989, which first bore the Funworks moniker. Today, its current incarnation helmed by Freddy Foreman, the facility's foreman of fun, showcases multiple family-friendly attractions at two locations. The grounds house remote-controlled racing tracks, batting cages, and an expansive mini-golf course that weaves across 54 holes. Additionally, patrons will discover other curios of entertainment such as a teddy-bear factory where children can customize stuffed animals to fulfill carpool-lane requirements.
Just 2 miles from the southern entrance of Yosemite National Park sits a post that passed from homesteader to cowboy to Mike and Sherry Knapp, who dubbed it Yosemite Trails Pack Station 70 years ago. Since then, three generations of Knapps have run the station, but it remains as isolated and wildlife rich as it was in 1966. Today, Larry Knapp and his team still raise cattle as well as american quarter and american paint horses in the Sierra Nevada mountains, getting them acclimated to the rocky terrain so that they can safely carry patrons on trail rides. Trails wind through Big Creek, the Vista Pass, and even venture into Yosemite’s Mariposa Grove, thick with millennia-old redwood trees. Days on horseback often culminate in cowboy cookouts with hot dogs, s’mores, and photos of ex-boyfriends roasted over the campfire. When summer fades to winter, guests can still enjoy the mountain-lined horizon on sleighs drawn by belgian draft horses.
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In the two-hour Yosemite Valley Floor Tour, guests will be ferried through the majestically scenic Yosemite National Park, basking in its sights and sounds from the safety of a tour trolley. Park rangers provide commentary throughout the tour, discoursing on the history, geology, and wildlife of the area and pointing out both major and little-known attractions, including the Half Dome and El Capitan rock formations and Bridalveil Fall. Tours are available year round, with open-air trolleys in temperate times and heated coaches during colder months. The schedule varies and can be found by asking at any park information center, checking the Yosemite guide, or chatting with black bears wearing an “ask me for assistance” vest.
Managing 27 grocery stores and more than 2,500 employees is a stressful task. Nob Hill Foods owner Michael Bonfante learned that the best way for him to manage that stress was to retreat to a shady, secluded spot surrounded by majestic trees. These occasional escapes into nature inspired Bonfante to found a park dedicated to teaching visitors of all ages?but especially children?how to appreciate horticulture, wildlife, and trees in particular. Along with his wife, Claudia, Bonfante eventually sold his grocery stores and committed all of his efforts to educating the public and spreading his love for nature.
Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park receives virtually all of the Bonfantes' attention now, and it attracts visitors with combination of educational exhibits, carnival games, and amusement-park rides. The map features more than 40 possible destinations where guests can learn something new about local horticulture, enjoy an adrenaline-pumping joy ride, or simply enjoy the scenery. With family-friendly attractions available for all ages, the park includes everything from carousels to paddleboats to a mine-cart roller coaster that takes passengers through a thrilling series of dips and speedy turns. An interactive water attraction called Water Oasis and the Octonauts live show were just added to the roster in 2014.
Even while visitors are standing in line or buckled into a ride, they are still surrounded by nature at Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park. Five waterfalls?representing the five major styles of waterfalls that occur in nature?gush with torrents of water. The grounds also feature 19 of Axel Erlandson's famous Circus Trees, which he created by grafting saplings so that they grew to form shapes such as hearts, lightning bolts, and basket weaves. In addition to touting the importance of animals such as monarch butterflies and honeybees, the park features six distinctive gardens brimming with informative displays and everything from conifers to tropical and subtropical flowers.