A phosphorescent Frankenstein stands guard over a legion of glowing ghouls that loom throughout the black-lit corridors of Monster Mini Golf's 18-hole course. Framed by neon-green rails, the course's pitch black putting surfaces give the impression that luminescent orbs are either somersaulting in far-reaching pockets of space or rolling across the darkened cellar of your boss's punishment office, a murky abyss populated only by gothic tropes and the presumably undead. A live DJ soundtracks each birdie-hunting expedition with bone-chilling beats as players read putts or meander around the flashing lights of the adjacent arcade, where guests can wager a month's rent in games such as skee ball, air hockey, and Guitar Hero.
“A synthetic turf-covered love letter to Washington.” That’s what Fritz Hahn of the Washington Post had to say about H Street Country Club after visiting the nearly 7,000-square-foot bar at the heart of the Atlas District. Yet Hahn wasn’t talking about the eatery’s decadent food; he was commenting on the space's devilishly tricky indoor golf course. During each nine-hole outing—for adults 21+—putters encounter the Lincoln Theatre, Ben’s Chili Bowl, and the titanic grasping hands of a half-submerged Marion Barry. As if a trip to the links wasn’t enough to work up an appetite, the entire first floor of H Street tempts gamers with skee-ball, shuffleboard, and wall-vs-human staring contests—all within an arm’s reach of margaritas, mojitos, and other specialty drinks.
Upstairs, a glass panel filled with retired golf balls gazes out over artist and contributing decorator Lee T. Wheeler’s talents, which alight upon everything from the sculptures crafted from repurposed birdhouses to the bar’s cushy lounge seating. The design sets the stage for executive chef Pablo Cardoso’s upscale take on classic Mexican food, with tables welcoming grilled skirt steak splayed over "cowboy" beans, a half chicken paired with yuca, and fajitas stuffed with still-sizzling shrimp. For dessert, the chef stuffs crisp empanadas with sweet mangoes, topping the confection with creamy ice cream and a note to get out of gym class for a week.
It’s 1:29 p.m. and the wave pool at Great Waves Waterpark has been calm for nine minutes. The mood on the surface, however, is anything but. An anticipatory energy has been transmitted through the water as sweaty sunbathers migrate from the sun deck, giddy youngsters from the various kids’ areas, and thrill seekers from one of the park’s waterslides. The anticipation ends at 1:30 p.m. when three 80-horsepower motors begin to churn the large fans that whip the pool’s 475,000 gallons of water into waves as high as four feet for 10 minutes. This increment of waves—10 minutes on, 10 minutes off—runs like clockwork at the 20-acre facility, which also features dry attractions such as miniature golf, batting cages, and grassy areas for practicing the backstroke.
In addition to offering sun-soaked thrills of simulated waves, the park's Paradise Play boasts 30-foot slides, pogo sticks, rock walls, and a non-aqueous playground area. A faux beach with sand invites revelers to unwind while snacking on a funnel cake purchased from Riptide Café, while a nearby play pool with pint-sized slides lets little riders get into the summertime mix. After a full day of sliding and swimming, guests may purchase souvenirs from the Shark Shack gift shop.
When new owners gained control of Putt Putt Fun Center in 2011, they brought with them a fresh vision that culminated in modern updates. The recently revised center encompasses a spectrum of family fun; the indoor area houses an arcade—fully loaded with air hockey and a Wheel of Fortune game—beside an inflatable labyrinth of moon bounces, slides, and obstacle courses used to train armies of balloon animals. Once visitors have exhausted themselves inside the glowing laser-tag arena or other sheltered activities, they can venture outside to the mini-golf course, where faux caverns and a wooden footbridge arc over abbreviated greens. Nearby, athletes smack baseballs into orbit from the batting cages.
Bel Air Golf Center helps duffers straighten out drives, hone putter strokes, and lower scores with an expansive driving range and miniature-golf facility geared toward player improvement. Turn unsightly snap-hooks into power-draws of supernatural beauty at one of the driving range’s 47 stalls—10 of which are enclosed, heated, and lighted to facilitate sessions in rainstorms, after sunset, or on the ice planet Hoth. The range also helps divoteers dial in their distance with 14 target flags measured to precise yardage.
The Severna Park Golf Center houses a variety of activities that let families fill an afternoon with belting balls. Adults ($7.25) and children (12 and under, $5.75) can precisely putt their way through the Lilliputian links winding around an eight-foot waterfall on the 18-hole mini-golf course. A par 27 nine-hole course gives full-sized chippers an opportunity to practice short game situations during abbreviated rounds ($12 on weekends, $10 Mon.—Thurs.). Dust off dormant drivers by launching buckets of dimpled orbs ($6 for 50 balls, $12 for 150) from the fresh hitting mats on the driving range. Fifteen of the 44 stations are covered and heated so that golfers can practice their backswing no matter how low the temperatures limbo this winter. The expansive fields also house ballpark-style batting for claustrophobic sluggers unable to find their swing in cramped cages or abandoned mine shafts. This variation of batting practice ($5.00 for 35 pitches, $12 for 105) mimics actual baseball, so hitters can call their shots and rush the mound if the pitching machine tries to hit them.