Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
A plethora of mock-rock climbing challenges populates The Spot Bouldering Gym with 10,000 square feet of vertical obstacles. Rock climbers can spend all day scaling man-made mountains up to 18 feet high, gripping massive boulders made in the image of Hueco, Fontainebleau, and Abraham Lincoln's nose. Other trials include the gravity-fighting 25-foot roped wall, an assortment of muscle-mightying training equipment, and cushy flooring for seamless dismounts. No experience is necessary to tackle the upright obstacles at The Spot; the congenial crew eagerly shares climbing tips and creates encouraging victory pyramids.
Located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Gateway Park Fun Center combines the splendor of its natural backdrop with a variety of manmade attractions. Fresh mountain air courses through the 18-hole mini-golf course and whips the hair of go-kart racers on a track more than 2,100 feet long. Guests with unstable hairdos can retreat inside, where an arcade loaded with games such as skee-ball and NFL Throw—along with an inline hockey rink—make the park a year-round destination.
Though Wheel Fun Rentals bicycle stables are scattered from sea to shining sea across the North American continent, the seeds of the enterprise were sown in Italy. On vacation in the late '80s, founder Brian McInerney discovered the four-wheeled Surrey cycle, a pedal-powered vehicle capable of carrying as many as six passengers. Before returning to the States, he made sure to pick up a full set of Surreys from the manufacturer, and a new chapter in his life began. Today, the business rents not only bikes and Surreys, but also multiple cycle-style mutants such as the three-wheeled Deuce Coupe and its cousin the Chopper. They even carry more advanced land vehicles such as electric cars and scooters. Kayaks, one-person pontoons, and stand-up paddle boards also unlock access to some of the country's wettest byways.
The visibility beneath the waters of Aurora Reservoir is between 5 and 12 feet in front of your face. The murkiness is less frustrating than it is suspenseful—you don't know exactly when the twin engines of an airplane will appear, allowing you to trace the rest of the sunken craft and greet its finned inhabitants. The remote, shadowy world of the downed plane is just one of many rendered accessible to students of Rocky Mountain Diving Center, where instructors can train their protégés up from first-time divers to certified teachers through a combination of classroom, pool, and outdoor sessions.
The center's educational programs include swimming and snorkeling classes in addition to open-water-diving-certification courses. These lessons enable graduated pupils to delve into several local lakes. The curriculum also covers specialty training on topics such as deep diving, night diving, and underwater photography—a career passion of the school's owner, Mark. With equipment for sale and rental as well as a dedicated service team, the center prepares its students for safe and comfortable excursions. Its tropical retreats afford rare opportunities to explore the reefs off of Fiji or swim alongside whale sharks or shark whales—extremely intimidating belugas.