With paintball gear on, 10,000 sq. ft. can seem like a vast jungle. Specifically, one where the animals have figured out how to operate paintball markers. The outdoor paintball arena at Celebration Station hosts friendly competitions between players of all skill level, who fire salvos from behind obstacles. That competitive zone only makes up a small portion of the fun, however. Outside alone, visitors find a towering rock-climbing wall, batting cages, and a go-kart track that twists and turns across a quarter mile. Bumper boats collide nearby, while waterfalls cascade down the landscapes of an 18-hole mini-golf course.
Arcade tokens take over indoors, where 100 games present visitors with a challenging dilemma: should they master every one of the racing simulators, or take a break for a game of laser tag? Luckily, they can ponder their choices over a meat lovers pizza at the onsite restaurant.
The aquatic playland at Surf and Swim aims to bring the quintessential beach experience to a controlled water park. Inner tubes and their passengers float atop a wave pool's sprawling waters, splashing as the sun lovingly stares deep into their eyes. Pipes, plastic animals, and fountains pepper the kids area, and the aptly named Chill and Grill Cafe serves up burgers and fries. On select nights, the park transforms into an outdoor movie theater, where groups can swim and bob for their ticket stubs while watching a full-size screen.
At Texas Skatium, roller skaters roam the rink as a disco ball spins from the center of the ceiling, with dozens of flags hanging above them and speakers pumping out Top 40 jams. Originally opened in 1989, the recently remodeled building houses both a roller rink and a play area complete with brand-new bounce houses and arcade games. The upgrades from the renovation also brought in a state-of-the-art A/V system and projection screen. The 33,000-square-foot space is ideal for private or public events, which range from kids' birthday parties to after-hours adult soirees with alcohol, a DJ, and screenings of uncut episodes of Murder, She Wrote.
Spread across 66 acres, Dallas Arboretum's themed gardens showcase the broad biodiversity of Texas' unique climate. The gardens' lush plantings and eye-catching vistas have earned the arboretum numerous accolades, including a spot on Travel Channel's list of "Best Botanical Gardens in the US." The arboretum's collection sprouts annual blooms and old growth, including the century-old Japanese maple accenting the Nancy Rutchik Red Maple Rill. Landscaping work is showcased as well: A Woman's Garden has won national acclaim for its formal terraces, reflecting pools, and flowerbeds.
There are few places left in the world where humans and hippopotamuses can swim peacefully side by side. In fact, Wet Zone may be the last. Haley, the loveable mascot, wanders around the water park in a floral-print dress with pink eye shadow accentuating her smile while she high-fives birthday boys and girls at on-site parties. Like a queen in her castle, sculptures of her speckle the park's various splash pools, look out over the geysers and showering pipes, and welcome aquatic adventurers to Turtle Cove and the colorful Kiddie Playground. And Haley also lends inspiration, fortifying wee ones with the gusto necessary to tackle the park's two giant water slides or age-specific swim lessons.
While kiddies splash on multi-level playhouses, adults can sneak away from the large lap pool to gear up for aquatic battle at the Water Wars game. Then families can reunite on land for a game of volleyball, or head over to Haley's Hunger Hut for some nachos or hot dogs. Private, grass-roofed cabanas give sun-shunners a place to dodge the heat as they chow down, and free Wi-Fi allows furtive check-ins with work or information transmissions with the mother ship. Yet no one has an excuse to stay dry for long—an on-site gift shop is stocked with bathing suits and towels to equip the ill-prepared for a day spent swimming.
Fanny Kerwich, Lone Star Circus’s founder and current creative director, was born with the circus in her blood. An eighth-generation member of a renowned French circus family, she has been performing since age 6, delighting international audiences at Paris’s Lido and Moulin Rouge, Germany’s Circus Roncalli, and San Francisco’s Teatro ZinZanni.
Fanny’s performing experience and artistic vision now guide the nonprofit Lone Star Circus, which is a two-branched operation. Its performance troupe’s grace and athleticism shine during shows. The circus’s school hosts classes for adults and children throughout the week. Beginners’ classes cover a variety of circus skills, from trapeze and aerial silk work to acrobatics and lyra, also known as aerial hoop. Learning to lift and hold your own body weight is a good way to get stronger and see muscle definition quickly.