76 Golf World Family Fun Center fills its sunny grounds with attractions to entertain visitors of all ages. The Racing Rascals go-kart track puts young ones behind the wheel as they circle a simple beginner's track, whereas the Slick Track's surface of shiny concrete lets teens practice fishtailing before taking their driver's test. Kids aged 2–7 board bumper boats and cruise on a foot-deep pool, safely colliding with other captains. Just as two 18-hole mini-golf courses challenge putters to sink shots amid lighthouses and waterfalls, a driving range and chipping area beckon players to practice hitting balls and shredding scorecards with their clubs. A slew of other attractions—from batting cages and arcade games to bounce houses and trampolines—tire families out before they refuel on hot dogs, nachos, and candy at the full snack bar.
Skatetown USA entertains speedsters with a slick rink full of friction-less fun during open-skate sessions on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings. Skaters can careen in the company of a partner or assemble a gaggle of friends, family members, or doppelgängers to perform choreographed rink routines. Family packages help to replenish energy spent on glissading across the floor or perfecting quadruple axel jumps with a hot pizza and slurpable sodas. Bask in retro glory with four-wheeled skates or for an additional fee, spring for a pair of speed skates or rug-cutting roller blades to ensure hummingbird-paced conga lines.
Lion Country Safari is a zoo with no cages. Instead, more than 900 animals, including the largest zebra herd outside of Africa, roam its 320 acres freely. During drive-through safaris, cars tour seven sections of the preserve—which represent different areas such as western Zimbabwe and the Serengeti—to see llamas, asiatic water buffalo, chimpanzees, and white rhinoceros. Lions have a section all to themselves so that they don't prey on other animals or disturb them with giggles from the pride's late-night slumber parties.
In addition to the four-mile drive, Lion Country Safari's Safari World allows guests to explore rides and attractions as they visit with animals on foot. They can feed giraffes, practice animal-massage techniques at the petting zoo, or hop on the carousel next to Lake Shanalee's paddleboat rides. After kids splash through the interactive Safari Splash waterpark, they can hop onto the ferris wheel or ask exotic birds for advice on how to fly.
Racers fly over the European-style road course, whipping past red-and-black boundaries as they maneuver in and out of the turns and straightaways. While they jockey for position and widen the gap between them and the competition, they listen to the race coverage on their radio helmets, striving to improve on their last lap time by cracking a whip over their engines until they gallop up to 40 miles per hour. This is the Andretti Challenge, one of five go-kart tracks within the six-acre Andretti Thrill Park.
The park’s attractions span amusements for nearly every age, from tyke-friendly fun on Rookie Row to single and double karts on the Super Speedway. The park also encompasses nonmotorized fun, such as the Andretti Edge climbing wall, mini bowling, and a tokenless, card-based arcade. And as expected at any family amusement park, Andretti's staff includes a team dedicated to handling parties so that parents don't have to sneak into the park at midnight and power the arcade with their car battery. This scope and quality of entertainment earned Andretti Thrill Park the 2011, 2012, and 2013 Best of Melbourne Award: Amusement Parks from the US Commerce Association.
Although the 1960s was an era of change, children were still not allowed to pick their own produce at Milwaukee-area farms. This seemingly minor policy was the spark that began Green Meadows Farm, Kissimmee's family-oriented petting farm populated by 300 animals. Bob and Coni Keyes started with a hog and cattle farm in Waterford, Wisconsin. Believing farms were places where kids could learn and interact with animals, the couple converted their 80 acres into a raspberry and veggie patch that also featured a handful of friendly farm animals to welcome kids. The petting farm was born in 1965 when a local teacher asked if her youngsters could drop by to visit the animals and give the roosters mop-top haircuts.
More than 40 years later, the Keyes are still at it. Over the years, their quest to enrich the education of children with a "low-tech" farm experience has taken shape in Texas, Illinois, and Florida. The owners live right on the Green Meadows acreage with their small village of cows, pigs, sheep, goats, and other barnyard citizens. Bob and Coni lead hands-on daily tours for visitors and facilitate pony rides, along with a host of other seasonally varied activities offered 363 days a year.
Cattle, poultry, and rabbits mingle in the hay. Bakers stand proudly over their pies and cakes at display tables. Clown troupes tumble on a stage, and a 15-pound sweet potato lounges in the shade. The senses, nearly overwhelmed, dart from one place to the next at the Brevard County Fair in Wickham Park. The clamoring park seems to swell and fade from inside the whirring carts of roller coasters and the seats of a Ferris wheel; the people shrink until they look like tallish ants dressed up as people. The crowd flows to watch displays of skill at century-old 4-H events, traditional animal shows, archery tournaments, and other competitions. Adding twists of color alongside the tawny herds of livestock, recycled art and rain-barrel-painting exhibitions and displays of baked goods and preserves fill the air with the impressed chatter of judges, who are all professionals in their respective fields.Scents drift from a chili cook-off, where patrons purchase tasting tickets to sample dishes forged by local chefs and chili enthusiasts from fistfuls of spices and meats slow-cooked at a fire’s family reunion. On most days fair-goers can take camel rides or witness the antics of a one-man band, dance troupes, and the No Joe’s Clown Circus as they wander between the pavilion and main stage. Exhibits such as Milk Maker and There’s a Cow in My Truck let hands softened by typing on silk keyboards all week experience some of the satisfying vigor of agricultural work. Appetites can be sated with fair fare such as fried candy bars, brisket and pulled pork, and philly-cheesesteak sandwiches.