An FAA-approved helicopter-flight tour operator, North Andover Flight Academy employs five licensed instructors with combined flight and teaching experience that numbers in the thousands of hours. Fledgling aviators can begin their aeronautical journeys at Lawrence and Marlboro Airports, which serve as home bases for services that range from tours and photography flights to full pilot-certification courses and agricultural applications. The team commands a fleet of six Robinson helicopters, including one R44 and five R22s, and keeps Robinson factory-trained mechanics on staff to ensure their safe operation and to ice down their blades after particularly vigorous training flights.
Visitors to Mel's Funway Park can try their hand at two 18-hole mini-golf courses before speeding and swinging their way through the go-kart track and batting cages, which feature a replica of Fenway's Green Monster and slow- and fast-pitch machines that can reach speeds of up to 85 mph. Inside, a laser plex hosts games of laser tag, while other visitors attempt the laser maze, a web of 36 lasers that participants must avoid to keep from triggering the alarm and receive their cat-burglar certification. Funway Park has also partnered with Naticook Fish & Grill to recharge empty body batteries.
Anheuser-Busch's beermaster tour regales guests with an edifying excursion behind the scenes of the brewer's charming, picturesque facilities. View secretive master sudsmiths as they frolic in their natural brewhouse habitat, and savor the hearty bouquet of the hop room, which brims with the scents of the powerful flowers. The fermentation cellar and packaging facility reveal the early stages of a magical lifecycle, similar to watching a nest of panda eggs hatch.
With its three basic ingredients—honey, water, and yeast—the making of mead sounds misleadingly simple. But Michael Fairbrother tinkered with the recipe for this ancient drink in his garage for 17 years before he felt ready to open Moonlight Meadery and share the results. Michael has fine-tuned the fermentation process to craft batches of mead from ethically sourced, unpasteurized honey, which imparts each sip with rich color, vivid aromas, and the pleasant buzz that bees make while wading into a hot tub. Michael’s traditional mead rests side by side with fruit-tinged and spiced varietals that meld flavors such as tart rhubarb and Madagascar-bourbon vanilla beans with New Hampshire wildflower honey.
The inspiration for Zorvino Vineyards came to Jim and Cheryl Zanello in the same way it does for many American vintners—from a trip to Italy. Taken by the contrast in the quality of the wines and the pace of life between the two countries, the Zanellos brought over their own taste of the old country to an 80-acre New England estate. With grapes sourced both from their own vineyard and such regions as Tuscany, Chile, and California, the pair crafts a suite of red, white, and fruit wines that they sell on site and proffer to local restaurants and merchants. However, the winery itself is worth a trip, with its wrought-iron gate, lantern posts that seem to grow out of empty casks, and swarms of fireflies that send Morse code recommendations for the best wine to pair with salmon. Inside the tasting room, guests lean on hardwood banisters as they sip samples of the winery’s creations.
High 5 Ballooning has sailed through skies since 1999, offering views of New England so spectacular that even the company’s balloons never stop smiling. With the Merrimack River Valley below, each trip treats passengers to views of the Boston skyline and the White Mountains blanketed in the colors of the changing seasons. Depending on the winds, rides may drift gently over pristine lakes or pass close enough to trees that passengers can pluck pinecones and whisper compliments to sleeping birds. After trips coast back to solid ground, High 5 Ballooning celebrates the occasion with champagne toasts.