Founded by Joe Estes as a nonprofit operation, Safari Joe's Reptile World provides a 200-acre sanctuary for more than 250 exotic animals—including lions, leopards, alligators, pythons, and large tortoises—that were unwanted, abused, or neglected. Each week, five to six new animals are donated or abandoned at the facility. Though these animals cannot return to the wild, they receive nurturing care from a cadre of more than 30 volunteers.
While newly abandoned animals remain hidden from view within the sanctuary, the park also boasts exhibit such as Reptile World. This educational, hands-on environment encourages visitors to interact with a slew of exotic animals while learning about protecting each species and their natural habitats.
Seizing an opening, a boy manning a motorized boat slams into the boat in front of him. Before the other driver has time to retaliate, he turns the wheel 90 degrees and high-tails it to the other side of the bumper-boat pool. Safe, for the moment. Nearby, similarly minded motorists intent on reckless cruising race laps around a go-kart track, bounding off the track’s walls and off fellow drivers trying to practice their parallel-parking skills. High-pitched screams in the distance indicate that the Tiger Terror rollercoaster has begun its decent, and the swift crack of a baseball bat indicates the batting cage has met its match.
As the sun sets on another day at Route 66 Carousel Park, park-goers take in the twinkling lights of a towering ferris wheel and the smells of sweet and savory park confections wafting through the summer air. Whether at the park on a whim or celebrating a birthday, corporate event, or puppy’s first words, guests can keep the revelry going late into the evening.
The Swim School of Joplin provides certification-level scuba lessons, diving vacations, and rental gear to help students to gain their underwater legs. Originally founded in Memphis in 1961, The Swim School of Joplin has since expanded aquatic operations to four states in the South and Midwest and runs scuba programs at both the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis. Instructional programs include everything from introductory swimming and snorkeling lessons to specialty courses in night diving, search-and-rescue diving, and diving while learning to play the guitar.
Owner Dewayne Convirs concocted a vision of an action wonderland, plugged that vision into an amplifier of ambition and excitement, then cranked that knob up to 12 and blew out the walls for the authentic outdoor sharpshooting experience that is D-Day Adventure Park. Home to “Oklahoma D-Day,” called the world’s largest paintball event, D-Day Adventure Park provides heat packers with 100 acres of rampant rapid-fire terrain. Grab a platoon of roughnecks and polychromatically plow down an infantry of musketeers with washable paint across painstakingly crafted battlefields designed to resemble famous raids and historical conflicts. Armed with a D-Day-supplied gun, protective mask, 200 paintballs, and one hopper full of high-powered air, agile assassins can take to the field for a full day of score settling and foliage redecorating. D-Day Adventure Park also provides free camping and showers for guests. This Groupon is valid Mondays through Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tex-Mex incorporates waves of warm cheese and a chipotle spiciness not found in Baja Mexican cuisine, which has also become popular in the United States. The chefs at La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant tap into the former’s tradition of piquant decadence when crafting fajitas, hot skillets filled with gooey jack cheese and chorizo, and steaks cooked to order. Inside the colorful dining room, frozen mango margaritas complement the bright hues of nachos rancheros crowned with grilled steak and loaded with toppings, or puerco con salsa roja, tender pork marinated in a red sauce and served with rice, beans, and tortillas. A range of imported Mexican beers the color of filtered sunshine or a gold sarcophagus that you didn’t read the washing instructions on cut the spice from the rest of the dishes.