Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.
It's unlikely that any historic kingdom had batting cages and water slides, but to be fair, Knight's Action Park is a lot more fun than an actual castle. On one side of the park, guests can don swimsuits and hop aboard bumper boats, slip down slides, or set out in paddle boats. Seven mini slides teach smaller children the fun of water-park attractions, while statues of giant sea creatures teach them that life is terrifying. Across the way, a 50-tee driving range lets golfers hone their swing, and an 18-hole mini-golf course caters to putters of all ages. The park's assortment of land-based amusements also includes a Ferris wheel, an arcade, and go-karts.
Wind whistles and engines roar as custom go-karts zip around Jet Karting's outdoor race track at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. Rented – along with all necessary safety equipment – to guests of all experience levels, the low-riding vehicles cruise the course in 15-minute bouts, during which up to 15 riders race each other. Speed School classes tailored to three different age groups prep more experienced racers to take laps in powerful spec racers and Rotax karts. The staff recommends guests bring long pants, close-toed shoes, and a desire to move quickly while basically in the fetal position.
In 1954, Marilyn Monroe married Joe DiMaggio, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded "Rock Around the Clock," and Harvest Moon Twin Drive-In Movie Theatre screened its first film. Over the next decades, it survived the skyrocketing popularity of cable television and even a tornado, but eventually closed in the 1980s. The projectors weren't powered down for long?in 1989, Mike Harroun saw an opportunity to create a place that combined the nostalgic vibe of a 1950s drive-in with the technology of a modern cinema.
These days, sunset is the cue for ultra high-definition digital projectors to whir to life and FM stereo transmitters to broadcast digital 5.1 surround sound into visitors' vehicles. The two screens change their feature films throughout the season, ensuring that crowds can catch first-run summer blockbusters before the explosions become covered with brown spots. Guests may bring their own food for a small fee, or order from a menu featuring piping-hot popcorn, giant dill pickles, and third-pound Black Angus burgers straight from the grill. That combination of old-fashioned entertainment and new-fangled equipment has won the theater plenty of press, including a spot on USA Today's list of the country's 10 best drive-ins.
Costumed actors hide inside Heaps Haunted Corn Maze, ready to scare all those who dare enter. Alternatively, the flashlight maze is completely unhaunted and challenges visitors instead with a series of dead ends, switchbacks, and branching paths that they must navigate armed only with a flashlight. After walking through the maze of their choice, guests can unwind during a half-hour moonlight tractor ride, staying in the mood by singing the Scooby-Doo theme song under their breath.
On Saturday nights at Channahon Lanes and Riverfront Lanes, the lights turn down and the music turns up as colored lights flash on the lanes. This weekly event is called Rock It Bowl and lends both bowling alleys the lively feel of a nightclub or the bedroom of a kid who's really afraid of the dark. Bumpers can be called into action on any lane, and even during the day, the clatter of pins is backdropped by music. Between frames, grownups can escape to the bar for a brew and kids can make their way to the video games in the arcade.