Inflated structures, slides, and games fill the climate-controlled environs of the numerous BounceU locations that speckle the nation. At each site, staff members closely monitor all activities as little ones traverse obstacle courses or pull on oversized inflatable boxing gloves. The crew also invites parents to join in on the fun, letting them bounce alongside their kids or make sweeping edicts from atop a bouncy-castle throne. In addition to open sessions, the indoor-play haven sets the stage for the Preschool Playdate program, where instructors lead games and activities. Special events include family-bounce night, which lets parents join in the bouncing or relax in the party room and do grownup things, such as eat marshmallows with a knife and fork.
Ever since she started teaching karate to kids and adults at A.F.A Karate in 1992, fourth-degree black belt Roseann Fusco has preached one main belief of the martial art—that beyond punches and kicks, karate is about improving oneself in all possible ways. Under the wings of the school's seasoned faculty, students work towards this while honing fundamental karate traits, such as self-defense, stress-reduction, and confidence-boosting. Despite the name, the martial-arts studio doesn't just teach karate. Fusco and her staff also schedule karate weapons and sparring lessons, all of which can help pupils improve their overall fitness.
Named for a small archipelago off the Branford coast, Thimble Island Brewing Company began with the home-brewed concoctions of Connecticut Natives Justin Gargano and Mike Fawcett. Though they lacked formal training, the duo tirelessly spent nights and weekends tinkering with their recipes until they sold their first pint of American Ale to KC's Pub in Guilford. Today, American Ale is one of the brewery's three mainstay beers, which Justin and Mike craft along with specialty batches such as a dark pumpkin porter. The twosome keeps four beers on tap at Thimble Island's tasting room, where visitors can drop in to fill up a growler, buy a t-shirt, or take a tour. Outside the brewery, Justin and Mike's beers grace many local establishments, including pubs and grocery stores.
The flames at Prime American Grille have escaped the kitchen. Not only do they live inside the sizzling-hot grill, they also exist atop flickering candles and inside the dining room's roaring fireplace. Flame-kissed rib-eye and new york strip steaks arrive at tables coated in house-made peppercorn, gorgonzola, or mushroom-and-onion sauces. Chefs also bolster their menu with ocean-fresh seafood, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches. Bottles of wine litter a massive rack inside the restaurant's dining room, which boasts a warm color palette, dark woods, and strategically placed mirrors that make the space feel airy and light, like a helium balloon filled with tossed salad. On the weekends, Prime American Grille pulses with live music from DJs and bands, and each night, diners can sit at the full bar to watch sports on seven flat-screen televisions.
Twin Lakes Golf Course is set on grounds that have been walked by golfers for more than 50 years, but enjoy the modern touches of a recent revamping. New tee boxes reside atop the professionally manicured greens that carpet the 10-acre course. Its renovated clubhouse offers guests the supplies they need for gameplay, including clubs and pull carts. After a round, players can return to the clubhouse where pizza bubbles in a wood-burning oven and cool beverages flow freely from taps.
For more than a century, Ring's End has put quality home improvement products in the hands of homeowners and contractors. A Stanley FatMax level ($30.99) ensures all paintings and ouija boards are hung correctly, and a gallon of Benjamin Moore Regal Classic paint ($40.19) creates a vibrant new hue on staid interior walls. Fiberon composite decking ($2.95+/ft.) helps to craft sturdy, colorful backyard-grilling platforms and arrives backed by a 20-year limited warranty. Handymen and women can keep tools easily accessible, organized, and ready to travel with a Veto Pro Pac tool bag ($144.99), which holds more than 100 hand tools and includes six zippered pockets to hide worksite snacks from Bob Vila.