The founders of Beach Tennis USA imported the volleyball-and-tennis hybrid sport from Aruba in 2005, bringing Americans of all ages and athletic abilities a fresh twist on beach-bound recreation. During the two-hour intro classes, instructors teach students how to bump, smack, or teleport de-pressurized tennis balls over lowered beach-volleyball type nets using nothing but stringless paddles. Like in volleyball and tennis, each team desperately attempts to keep the ball from hitting the ground on their side while using brute force and surreptitious bribery to convince the fast-moving orb to strike the opposing team's sandy surface. The gurus will impart valuable arm-swinging and sand-diving techniques for the first 30 minutes before letting pupils compete in match play for the remaining hour and a half.
A maker of quality billiard tables since 1910, Steepleton's wide range of entertainment furniture keeps a lively rec room from curdling into a dreary fun dungeon, or fungeon. A dartboard ($80–$199) and a couple bar stools ($25–$700) create a cozy habitat for pet Irishmen, and corn-hole bags ($40) provide twice the backyard fun of beanbag tosses, mostly from the game's name. Homebody hustlers, meanwhile, can take home a pool table ($999–$7,000) and pair it with high-quality pool cues ($22–$500). Otherwise, soothe sore muscles or reheat leftovers in a hot tub ($3,000–$13,000) on brisk Kentucky nights. Steepleton's showroom also shows off a variety of basketball hoops, air-hockey and foosball tables, safe outdoor playsets ($1,400–$12,000), and even safer Springfree trampolines—whose hidden frame and soft edges protect rugrats from spring gouges, broken bones, and double-bounces that send them crashing into passing cell-phone satellites.
For more than 60 years, Toys“R”Us has been helping kids be kids and grown-ups to revisit their childhoods by providing one of the largest selections of top-brand toys, electronics, games and everyday baby essentials. Founder, Charles Lazarus, revolutionized the toy business by modeling his stores after supermarkets, providing a variety of options to suit varying ages and interests and offering customers to help themselves and have fun in the process. Today, that sense of playfulness is evident at nearly 600 stores in the United States alone, including a flagship location in Times Square where kids are greeted by a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a 5-ton animatronic T-Rex, and a life-sized, 4,000-square-foot Barbie house.
Beyond everybody's favorite bikes, trains and video games, each Toys“R”Us store keeps its shelves stocked with the season’s must-have toys as well as nostalgic standbys that never go out of style. Time-tested brands such as LEGO, Radio Flyer, NERF and Fisher-Price share the shelves with an expansive selection of electronics for older kids, including Wii U and tablets. And though the company has inspired generations of boys and girls to try their hardest not to grow up, it also strives to ensure budding brains develop right on track by devoting a significant portion of its stores to “smart-play” with a wide selection of electronic learning toys and software.
Toys“R”Us—whose extended family of brands includes Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz—has earned a number of awards and recognitions through the years, including a spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. The company has also drawn considerable recognition for its expansive charitable efforts, which include partnerships with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Save the Children. This year also marks the tenth consecutive year that the company has partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to collect new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations in its stores to benefit the organization.
Sugar & Spice shines a spotlight on boys and girls. The business has two sides, serving as a boutique clothing shop as well as a venue for birthday parties and special events. New shirts, dresses, shoes, and other items arrive on shelves regularly; the shop's Facebook page keeps customers up to date on new arrivals. For parties, hosts supply everything needed, including cake and activities, which range from making friendship bracelets to appraising the gemstones on the birthday girl's tiara.
With iridescent miniature golf courses in malls throughout North America, Glowgolf adds elements of phosphorescent fun to shopping sessions. Courses contain sights such as light-defying blush corals, incandescent animals, and lush foliage reminiscent of the glowing trees on Neptune. Each pass is good for three 18-hole games, giving golfers ample opportunity to get familiar with each hole's obstacles. Equipment is available on the spot, so players won't have to carry around personal clubs or seek out a bioluminescent caddie.
By keeping up-to-date on the latest product information and safety alerts, with regular input from a parent advisory team and IBM’s Deep Blue computer, Best for Babies ensures that it carries only the safest and highest-quality merchandise. Parents and pet owners who like to dress their four-legged friends in baby clothes can deck out their darlings with clothing such as New Jammies organic nap n’ play footies ($28), a Barefoot Dreams eco-heirloom cardigan ($50), or a stylish Alfonsi Venetis oilcloth smock ($25).