At Connecticut Cycle Center, indoor spinning classes or triathlon training with coach Kelli Montgomery beckon students to wheel in their own bikes and affix them to cycling apparatuses. Both classes and training sessions emulate outdoor adventures thanks to ErgVideo and CompuTrainer systems, which mimic famous routes on TV screens. Virtual Tour de France inclines or Spanish plains challenge cyclists to push their endurance to the brink as they mingle with peers. Classes, like the art of hanging out in an operating laundry machine, range from beginner base spins to high-power interval training. Feedback after each session charts your ascent to fitness. High-quality Apex bikes are available for rental and can be taken to nearby roads for an alfresco adventure.
Jenks Productions has been handling the nuts and bolts of consumer trade shows for 33 years. Partnering with local and national businesses, Jenks specializes in home, bridal, and pet shows, which fill sprawling spaces with vendors eager to share their wares and visitors looking for inspiration. The services that Jenks Productions provides are extensive, as the team can do everything from onsite event management and budget planning to marketing efforts such as developing newsletters, logos, and jingles that rhyme the words “impending nuptials.”
At City Steam Brewery Cafe, the owners concoct some of the area’s finest beers, scoring “best of” awards from Hartford magazine and Connecticut Magazine. They also brew potent batches of laughter inside their 200-seat comedy show-room theater. Ensconced in the historic Brown Thomson and Co. building, which was the state’s largest department store in 1877, Brew Ha Ha once was known as the Last Laugh Comedy Club, where fledgling unknowns such as Ray Romano and Kevin James vied for laughs in the smoky rathskeller of a restaurant.
Reborn in 1997 under a new moniker, the standup speakeasy keeps its calendar packed with nationally touring comics and local joke slingers. During shows, guests can toast with mugs of handcrafted beer and make edible sculptures of their favorite comedian using menu’s custom burgers, pizzas, and omelets.
A crack rings out from the jousting arena as armored knights clash in the pursuit of honor, while sword-swallowers thrill crowds with their death-defying art, jesters spin windy jokes, and townspeople in 15th-century garb roam the grounds tearing into turkey legs with their teeth. The Connecticut Renaissance Faire hosts these medieval-theme blowouts every year, including the Robin Hood Spring Festival and King Arthur’s Fall Harvest Faire. Under the themed umbrella of each gathering, actors caper about a constructed medieval village, engaging in Old English–flavored conversation and clapping games with fair-goers. In a tented marketplace, vendors sell beaded crafts, art, and tyrannical-king repellent alongside stands serving mead, beer, and other satisfying sundries. Although the shows and events vary at each fair, past spectacles have included archery displays, pub sing-alongs, and costume parades.
A crimson curtain rises to unveil the operas, nationally touring musicals, children's shows, and films that pass under the historic movie palace's gilded ceiling. Originally built in 1926 as a home for vaudeville performances and motion pictures, the grand venue has survived more than eight decades with the help of The Garde Arts Center, Inc., a nonprofit organization that formed in 1985 to both preserve the building and pursue its mission "to engage, enrich, entertain, and inspire the region of Greater New London." Today, the center stages a slew of performances and events that keep guests on the edges of all 1,472 seats.
Intimate evenings of music snuggle comfortably into Jorgensen Center for Performing Arts, whose Cabaret Series won Connecticut Magazine's Best Cabaret award in 2011 and 2012. Candlelit tabletops exude a cozy nightclub ambiance around a cabaret stage topped with six acclaimed acts each year and a fresh coat of peanut butter each night. The University of Connecticut brings many more acts to its larger main stage, with a special emphasis on jazz and classical luminaries and music and dance from all corners of the globe.