Plantation Pet Resort helps pets feel at home by giving them ample exercise and attention on 11 acres of grassy play space. Dogs bound into the day at 7:30 a.m., roaming in two shaded outdoor play yards—one for big dogs and one for small. A fenced grassy area provides plentiful space for energetic games of frisbee, fetch, and Pin the Tail on the Schnauzer. Canines barrel across turf and engage in friendly tussles for two hours as staff members give pets’ heated and air-conditioned suites a thorough clean. Happily weary dogs are led back to their spacious accommodations for breakfast and a nap, returning outside four to five more times during the day for a half hour or more. At night, TVs, DVDs, and radios keep pets from missing the comforts of home and the antics of favorite talk-show hosts.
At Equestrian Quest Stables, riders of all experience levels deepen their equine appreciation by trotting and cantering amid facilities featuring two 80’x150’ lighted riding arenas and a vast network of wooded trails. Lessons cover every aspect of horsemanship, from grooming and tacking to handling and riding—an all-encompassing approach that lets riders develop self-confidence and communicate better with the horse than by simply buying an English–Whinny dictionary. For the riding portion, students hop atop one of the farm's 17 lesson horses to explore disciplines such as hunt seat, English and Western pleasure, or dressage. Younger equestrians can spend even more time learning during one of Equestrian Quest’s camps, where students pair up with their own horse and learn from a pair of teachers with more than 50 years of combined experience.
Scott and Lahela McElroy aren't your stereotypical ranchers. But then again, Horsepower Ranch is not your stereotypical ranch. Since 2001, the McElroys have hosted countless parties and events at their 12-acre venue. Shindigs range from Gatsby-esque soirees to children's birthday parties complete with pony rides and bounce houses. At rustic, country-themed weddings, love and marriage are literally paired with a horse and carriage as lovebirds tie the knot atop equestrian groomsmen. Events take place at the ranch's 2,700-square-foot covered pavillion or in a 5,000-square-foot air-conditioned facility, which can be opened up on one side, weather permitting. Horsepower Ranch also hosts an annual Halloween pumpkin patch, which naturally doubles as a Hawaiian luau and vintage car show.
Deep in eastern Seminole County, Three Crowns Farm's prime location next to next to Lake Proctor Wilderness Area affords mounted visitors direct access to miles of scenic trails. Riders can bone up on skills during a lesson in dressage, jumping, or reining, and then head out on the network of well-worn routes for a variety of trail rides. The morning ride sets out at 7 a.m., providing a pleasurable start to the day or cap to a night spent trying to empathize with horses by sleeping standing up. For night owls, the moonlight ride embarks at 7 p.m. and catches the sunset before returning at 8:30 p.m.. The farm recommends that riders wear protective clothing and shoes that cover the feet.
Maybe it's the themed activity areas. Maybe it's the vibrant color splashed across each of the walls. Whatever the reason, kid stepping into Amaya Papaya's play lounge know that they're not walking into your average play date. Instead, they pass their time in a hybrid lounge that combines the best elements of indoor playgrounds, event and party spaces, and local shops for kids up to five years. Seven themed areas fend off boredom, with a creativity corner allowing kids to color on the chalk and paint walls and a construction corner letting them design cost-effective skyscrapers out of wooden blocks.
While kids play during drop-in playtime Monday-Friday, parents pass their minutes browsing the toys, games, and educational resources that populate the center's shop. After ringing up purchases, they can also kick back in comfy seats, keeping an eye on their child's play session while taking a break for themselves.
Amaya Papaya's staff also leads classes before open play and after closing time for both parents and adults, such as art and language classes and CPR training. To keep things fresh, they constantly rotate toys and pull out their etch-a-sketches to plan special events such as meetings with children's authors. Amaya Papaya is also available for private birthday parties on the weekends.
Spun sugar crystals float by spinning horses and pools of docile magnetic sharks beneath the glittering midway lights of Carol Stream Amusements' lively traveling carnival. The nearly 110-year-old fair company's third-generation of stewards bring rides, games, and snacks to states such as Florida, North Carolina, and New York, where it operates the state fair in Syracuse. A 65-foot century wheel soars above the bustle of the music-filled midway, where LED lights twinkle in patterns of white, green, blue, and red around its gondola cars. A merry-go-round sends fantastical steeds cantering around in a stately circle, while bumper cars careen around their nearby enclosure. Carnival games such as squirt-gun races and fishing for magnetized sharks yield prizes such as stuffed animals and inflatable Scooby-Doo, SpongeBob, and Henry VIII dolls, while flurries of corn dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, and taffy apples fall constantly on hungry fair-goers.