After spending years designing kitchens and handcrafting cabinets, John Barlowe opened Frame Shop Art Gallery & Gifts to celebrate and showcase great household art. A member of the Professional Picture Framers Association, he's won awards for his custom-frame designs, which pair his meticulous woodworking skills with elements such as football skin to accent displayed pieces. As a premier partner of Larson-Juhl, he has access to thousands of ornate American hardwood borders and gilded moldings crafted with more than 100 years of company expertise. Each artwork or photograph squeezes between Tru Vue glass and Bainbridge mats and backboard, a sandwich framers can often complete in as little as 24 hours.
In addition to displaying art, John and his team specialize in various photo services, from printing images to transforming ordinary snapshots into caricatures or watercolors with artistic photo treatments. They also prevent boxes of family photos from falling victim to age, disasters, and swamp monsters’ thumbprints by digitizing large collections.
The roar of rushing of water echoes through the towering walls of Splash Bay Water Park, where slides, rivers, and pools stretch across a 35,000-square-foot indoor facility. Kiddie pools ripple with whippersnappers clambering upon play structures and tumbling off giant lily pads, and inner tubes careen down a lazy river. After snaking and weaving riders across the rafters, three lofty slides fire their passengers out into pools below, and adults can lounge under a warm waterfall pouring into the giant hot tub.
Red Cross–certified lifeguards survey the scene all the while, quick to blow whistles at horseplay or beluga whales that have snuck through the hot-tub jets. On the upper deck, a snack bar peddles snacks and drinks, and arcade games glimmer, hum, and dole out prizes. Dried off guests can take advantage of the park's onsite hotel, complete with family suites and a restaurant.
The Survival Race?s 5-kilometer track challenges racers to navigate a gauntlet of mud-laden terrain. Staggered waves of up to 300 runners each conquer military-style obstacles, wade through murky water, and slide through muddy trenches before reaching the finish line to celebrate at a shindig awash with delicious eats and smitten swamp monsters. Afterward, a Facebook album aids online nostalgia by showcasing dirt-caked athletes and their marshy feats.
The Butterfly House fills its lush indoor botanical garden with more than a thousand butterflies, creating a tranquil and meditative space for guests to relax and take in the wonderful natural variety present in a single order of organisms. Representing diverse species from the Americas and Asia, this well-traveled population of lepidopterans likes to flutter about, sipping nectar and basking in the sun, much like revelers at an international beach party. Since butterflies live for a fleeting two to three weeks, the facility brings in more creatures and new species regularly, making each visit unique. The knowledgeable staff helps patrons learn about every stage of this magnificent creature’s life cycle, from its awkward pupa days to the search for a mate and, in twilight, retirement from its professional nectar-collecting career to pursue a nectar-collecting hobby.
Field of Dreams Drive-In Theater offers communal, car-friendly film gazing as well as prefeature entertainment. At the Liberty Center location, around 250 vehicles sidle up next to each other to take in double features rain or shine, and the newly renovated Tiffin location can accommodate up to 500 sedans, stretch station wagons, and highway-ready riding lawnmowers. The flickering glow of Hollywood blockbusters joins forces with the twinkling stars overhead to illuminate clear, cloudless nights, helping to direct hungry movie goers to and from the full-service concession stand, and light the way for made-to-order pizzas delivered straight to each car’s drivers side door.
In addition to its first-run films, Field of Dreams features free, family-friendly games including corn hole toss, ladder golf, and putt-putt golf. Four-legged family members can also watch from the safety of a leash or their very own car seat, and portable coolers and grills are permitted on the grounds with the purchase of a $4 outside-food permit.
Before opening The Ballroom Company with her husband and fellow dance instructor David Myrice, championship ballroom dancer Jacki trained under world-renowned dancers including Sam Sodano and Shirley Ballas. Well-versed in a range of ballroom-dancing styles—and the recipient of a Mid-West Professional American dance title in 2009—she spends many weekends in the studio leading group and private dance lessons. Under the tutelage of the studio’s instructors, students of all ages and skill levels can master the rhythms of dances such as the cha-cha, the tango, the waltz, and the rumba. Rotating instructors also lead first-dance seminars for newlyweds. Friday-night dance parties, which run from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., provide a fun break from typical Friday-night routines, such as counting the number of pixels on your television screen.