To the staff at Bounce It Forward, the only thing sweeter than scenes of kids zooming down inflatable slides, careening across bounce houses, and exploring Justin Bieber–themed castles is helping others. It's with this mindset that it donates 10% of its rental proceeds to charity. And the staff members put that donation in their customers' hands, allowing them to choose from noble causes such as the Peoria Unified School District and Operation Christmas Child. To complete party scenes, the rental company also offers concession machines that fuel kids with freshly popped popcorn and cotton candy.
Nancy Fitzgerald, owner of The Tasting Room, knows the importance of being local–having grown up in the Phoenix area herself–and populates her eatery’s wine and beer lists with local Arizona tipples. Specializing in boutique and specialty wines and beers, she's also amassed a menu of more than 70 wines from across the United States, South America, and Europe that are complimented by more than 20 microbrews and a cider. Her chefs pair these libations with small plates of italian crostini and goat-cheese-stuffed bell peppers, and paninis topped with smoked and cured meats and eclectic cheeses. A variety of pre-arranged specialty cheese and meat plates are also available, or guests can create custom plates from a list of 18 different cheeses and 7 meats with which to impress a date or immediately see the benefits of a low-carb diet.
As a conglomerate of paintball facilities, Paintball International is a one-stop shop for weekend warriors seeking some chromatic outdoor combat. Partnering with fields across the country, the company helps players live out their battlefield fantasies, whether they're sneaking up on an enemy installation, executing tactic strategies, or painting Water Lilies on the chest of a charging opponent.
Named one of Parents magazine's Top 10 Birthday Chains in 2010, Color Me Mine's international franchise of DIY ceramics studios cater to an older crowd as well. Hundreds of unadorned ceramic pieces—including vases, flatware, and busts of Elvis—await the attentions of muses of kids and their keepers alike, as do glazes in earthy tones and bright crimsons to frighten bulls away from china cabinets. Guests follow simple step-by-step instructions that leave plenty of room for creative expression. When painters are satisfied with their work, the professional kiln-workers help glaze and fire it for them before customers retrieve the finished piece a few days later.
As a 23-year-old junior, Tom Hatten didn’t spend his evenings at the raucous parties or ice-cream socials associated with college life. Instead, he’d spend the waning hours of his evenings waiting by the dryer for the last batch of towels before collapsing into bed. In the morning, he would lug them to Mountainside Fitness, the gym he opened as a student that he has thrown all his energy into maintaining ever since.
Today, the humble 4,800-square-foot space has bloomed into nine gyms that average a sweeping 41,000 square feet. Tom’s vision of creating a friendly neighborhood gym that greets each guest with a warm towel underscores every decision he makes for the different locations, from the colorful kid-care spaces to the entertaining group fitness classes. Personal trainers plan regimens tailored to each client, helping them lose weight, build muscle, or target the muscles that will help build a better golf game. Clients can create their own routines with the help of cardio and weight machines, or explore the different amenities at each location, such as saunas, rock-climbing walls, and indoor basketball courts.
The smell of exhaust and hot rubber hangs in the air above Canyon Speedway Park, an olfactory cocktail accompanied by the sounds of screeching tires, roaring engines, and the cheers from a gallery that swells up to 2,000 strong. The 3/8-mile, dirt track churns as drivers drop lead feet on the accelerators of stock cars, ASCS wing sprint cars, and nine other classes of machines built for speed rather than maximal numbers of cup holders. Spectators watch from the stands as drivers compete for weekly prize purses of up to $7,250 with a repertoire of expert bump-drafts and jaw-dropping passes. In addition to scheduled races, the speedway also opens its gates during open practice sessions, letting fanatics study their favorite drivers' pinpoint turning technique in preparation for Bring Your Car to Work Day.