Just under an hour's drive from Boston, Merrimack Valley Paintball's fields are just big enough for referees to keep an eagle eye on all the action. Arching over the woodsball field is a thick canopy of trees, providing good cover in case of rain or flaming hail. As they maneuver around the tall trees, players duck behind stacks of logs and other obstacles. On the speedball field, combatants enjoy regulation-style play, whether they're packing high-end .68-caliber markers or Splatmaster gear, engineered for a softer impact so kids as young as 10 can play.
The Ride & Ski Card allows ski and snowboard enthusiasts to explore the runs at more than 30 East Coast resorts at discounted lift ticket rates. Snow-goers can burn down the pistes at Killington in Vermont, Black Mountain in New Hampshire, or Saddleback in Maine, and even cross the border to hit the slopes at Canada's Sunshine Village. Meanwhile, the Ride & Ski Card crew pops up at a different resort each week as they complete their Weekend Tour. At each stop, the team showers cardholders with additional savings and gear giveaways—including skis and a snowboard at each event—and then throws an après-ski party filled with slopeside revelry.
Divided between two locations in Manchester and Nashua, Vertical Dreams' 15,000 square feet of simulated mountainside are packed with obstacles and tough sections to challenge climbers of all skill levels. At the Manchester gym, gutted elevator shafts lined with hand grips extend four stories upward, creating 70-foot vertical surfaces. The Nashua location boasts 10,000 square feet of wall space, with textured surfaces that respond realistically to climber's hands and feet and fill their nostrils with simulated rock smells.
Vertical Dreams' staff of veteran climbers teaches students one-on-one or in groups. In beginner lesson packages, instructors show aspiring climbers the figurative and literal ropes involved in belaying, climbing, and knot tying, and the teachers in advanced top-roping and sport-climbing classes push their students' abilities to climb solo or in a lead position.
Arthur Murray has been a leading name in franchise dance since 1912, when the entrepreneur began selling mail-order dance lessons. Expanding his reach, he enlisted teachers to spread his signature dance lessons on first-class steamships and skyrocketed to fame in the '30s after introducing the public to such dances as the Lambeth Walk and The Big Apple. By the 1950s, Arthur and his wife, Kathryn, were hosting their own highly popular TV show on ABC, The Arthur Murray Dance Party, which ran for 12 years. Today, Arthur Murray's team prepares students for rug cutting at special events and weekend nightclub jaunts. Throughout lessons, instructors teach the foundations of two to four dances from a long list of styles that range from Latin to country-western, helping students to learn basic step patterns, timing, and the ability to lead or follow.
Baby goats and calves lounge on straw in a petting zoo while wolves and black bears frolic just yards away. It's not a radical experiment in natural selection, though; it's just part of the varied attractions at Charmingfare Farm. After taking in the entire zoo—from pigs to camels—guests can avail themselves of such diversions as trail rides atop one of the farm's friendly horses. Horse-drawn hayrides and sleigh ride socials culminate in a stop at a roaring bonfire where guests can cook all the hotdogs and 'smores they've captured in the wild.
Located in the woods, Liquid Planet Water Park forms an oasis of thrilling water slides, pools, and watery play zones. Water attractions include high-speed vertical-drop slides, new speed slides, spiraling water runs that stretch upward of 250 feet, and brisk splash pools. Forming a relaxing buffer at the side of the park are 2,000 square feet of sandy beach that, like marshmallow swim trunks, offer cushy respite from the ubiquitous concrete-pool surroundings. The beach also borders spring-fed Crater Lake, which attracts swimmers and cannonballers with traditional watering-hole charms.