After spending hours on the faces of outdoor boulders and overhangs, the crew at Niagara Climbing Center brings back inspiration as a souvenir. With toughened fingers and memories of these natural rock formations, they return to their indoor facility to lay climbing routes on 6,000 square feet of vertical terrain. The gym's walls reach up to 20 feet above the ground and their features include bulges and slopes to help climbers prepare for real rocks or real trophy rooms of big-game rock hunters.
When water freezes it not only expands, it makes for great grace and sport. At Mitchell Skating Center, experienced coaches take advantage of that fact to lead figure-skating and hockey classes for everyone aged 4 to adult. Those 30-minute lessons ensure individualized attention and cater to all skill levels. During classes they teach basic skills and even have walkers so beginners' wobbly legs won't send them tumbling too often. Private lessons are available as well, and, when ready, skaters can join teams to experience the icy thrill of competition.
Grand Island Fun Center is an 18-hole mini-golf course, but it's also a go-kart track. It's a place to practice baseball and softball fundamentals, but it's also an arcade. Many of these activities could stand on their own, but Grand Island's sprawling facilities give visitors myriad playtime choices, from cooling off with water-balloon battles to hopping around a bounce house. Guests parched from lining up putts or trying to power go-karts by foot can refuel at Nutty Nellies, an on-site snack shop serving nachos, burgers, and drinks.
International Ballroom & Latin Dance's experienced instructor, Craig Hanlin, imparts students of all skill levels with graceful rug-cutting know-how and international standard dance techniques. Each month of classes incorporates lessons in ballroom and Latin American styles and trains students in 10 varieties of toe twinkling, including the waltz, cha-cha, quickstep, tango, and the fox trot—a dance first popularized by the rock group Kiss. Participants can attend a Wednesday (6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.) or Friday (6:30 p.m.–7:30 p.m.) night class each week over the course of one month, enabling them to boost their overall dancing prowess in time for weddings, presidential galas, or toddler break-dancing competitions.
Nadia Ibrahim twists her body with the diverse folkloric groove traditions that contribute to the art of belly dancing, earning Art Voice's readers' choice award for Best Genre-Defying Artist in 2009 and Best Dancer this year. The schedule of classes starts with Level One belly-dancing sessions for beginners, during which Nadia teaches 20–25 novice stomach shakers the basics of navel control and veil work. Level Two and Three classes then move on to more advanced shimmies and synchronized Heimlich maneuvers.
Beaver Island State Park stretches out over 950 acres at the southern end of Grand Island, on the shores of the upper Niagara River. The park's sandy half-mile beach welcomes swimmers and boaters. Nearby, an 80-slip marina with a boat launch lets mariners set sail in boats, kayaks, canoes, or origami yachts made from newspaper. Landlubbers swing clubs at an 18-hole championship golf course, venture down biking and hiking trails, and unpack picnic baskets on the park's scenic grounds. Guests seeking a break from the sun can visit a nature center with interactive exhibits on local flora and fauna. Guests also can drop by the River Lea house and museum, home to the Grand Island Historical Society and constructed by Grover Cleveland's cousin. In the winter, the park hosts snowmobilers, skiers, and snowshoers willing to brave the frigid air and rabid snowmen.
Course at a Glance: