What might look like walls dotted with large wads of bubblegum to beginners, soon transforms into a network of pathways after students complete indoor rock climbing courses at Elite Climbing. The experienced staff are always onsite to lend a hand, even outside of class time, and demonstrate a sport that requires both physical and mental agility. With bouldering and top roping walls, both amateur and expert climbers can find an adequate challenge as they master 120 climbing routes from 19 stations. Kids can also get in on the action, during classes and summer camps that keep them from getting grounded for rappelling off the neighbor's roof.
Pinsetter Bar & Bowl's 34 polished lanes reflect their speedy pin-setting machines and the feet of bowlers in soft-soled shoes speeding their balls toward pins. As competition thickens, guests gaze upward to see high-definition monitors broadcasting music videos and bowling stats compiled by the automatic scoring system. After successful rounds, a full bar and lounge wafts the scent of its gourmet fare toward the famished with its barbecue-pork sliders, mussels, and mac 'n' cheese bites. Private events also get special treatment, as guests recline on leather couches in the VIP lounge, which overlooks lanes to be used exclusively by partygoers and the bowling balls that love them.
It's a child's paradise in the Garden State Discovery Museum, where pint-size patrons can climb up rock walls, cavort with wildlife, and imagine themselves as vets, doctors, and news anchors in hands-on exhibits. Red-eared turtles lounge in the wildlife area, inviting kids to gaze upon their slimy shells, and science displays teach guests about gravity, lava, and light.
There's room for all types of workouts in Nexxt Level Sports' 22,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility. Basketball players can hone their technique on two NBA-length hardwood courts, and baseball players can perfect their swings in 70-foot batting cages instead of going to an orchard and waiting for regulation-sized apples to fall. In group-training classes, meanwhile, gym patrons can focus on strength or build endurance with varied circuit workouts, including strength and resistance training. For a more private workout, personal trainers also lead one-on-one sessions, tailoring their exercises to the clients' fitness goals.
At The Adventure Aquarium, patrons can not only look at sharks in a tank, but be surrounded by them. At the Ocean Realm Exhibit, great hammerhead sharks, swim through a 750,000-gallon tank, their 7-foot bodies passing all around onlookers in the 40-foot shark tunnel.
Of course, Adventure Aquarium also houses a wide variety of marine animals. Their two Nile hippos each weigh in at approximately 3,000 pounds, and their mouths can open up to four feet—enough to swallow most wedding cakes in a single bite. At the aquarium's West African River Experience, visitors marvel at these hippos as they plunge into the water and swim right up to the glass. The Jules Verne Gallery, meanwhile, houses a giant pacific octopus. This cephalopod mollusk stretches out eight tentacles, each covered in some 280 suction cups.
The Elmwood Park Zoo surrounds its guests in a microcosm of North and South American habitats. American bison roam a grasslands area, bobcats prowl over the wetlands exhibit, and bald eagles soar within the confines of Olivia's Eagle Canyon. These are just three of the roughly 300 animals that call the zoo home. In addition to frolicking across exhibit spaces, many of these creatures also interact with zoo visitors at the ZooBowl outdoor amphitheater.
At Thunderbird's four modern bowling arenas, families and friends demolish pins arranged at the end of up to 36 slick lanes. Boulder chuckers slip on chic rental sneakers, pirouette, and send the 12-pound sphere trundling past gutters into a smug stand of pins. The option of bumpers aids little ones in nudging smaller orbs down the timber avenue. Thunderbird's lanes are programmed with AMF automatic scoring, freeing hands from cramp-inducing feats of addition.