Across the three floors of the award-winning Madison Children's Museum, youngsters up to 12 years old explore, learn, and most importantly, have fun, in a variety of interactive environments. The littlest visitors can wander through the Wildernest, a rustic play-space built almost entirely from natural materials and sustainably harvested hardwoods. Toddlers climb into the raised treehouse or take temporary residence in a mini-village of activity huts made from straw and mud. Suspended above the Wildernest is the Bone Ridge, an elevated walkway designed to resemble the vertebrae of a large animal, perhaps a sea serpent or a giant's pet snake. Afterwards, visitors can refuel with a snack at The Roman Candle Sparkler, and maybe even dessert at Pie in the Sky Diner, all while a fiberglass statue of museum mascot Gertrude the Cow hangs from the ceiling and keeps watch.
The apex of MCM, the Rooftop Ramble stands tall above a sweeping view of the Madison skyline, filling visions with a bird's eye view of the city as well as the museum itself. This outdoor garden can be enjoyed by a wide age-range: adults sip cocktails among fluttering chickens and homing pigeons during private events–from weddings to family reunions and Flat Earth Society meetings–and older kids discover the wonders of the greenhouse and live-animal terrariums.
Madison Children's Museum is also a popular destination for birthday parties, which are thrown by planners affectionately dubbed "Funstigators." The team makes each celebration unforgettable by taking care of all the essential party details, from providing the cake to adding a special theme, such as dinosaurs, artists, or mortgages. Regardless of the reason for visiting, families can start off their journey conveniently with onsite parking for cars and strollers.
At Art & Soul Tattoo and Gallery, artists decorate more than bodies. They also adorn the walls. In addition to its staff of talented tattoo, piercing, and permanent-makeup artists, the business also welcomes local painters and sculptors to showcase their work in the gallery. So on their way to commission some fresh ink, customers can peruse and purchase a slightly less permanent form of art.
The eclectic organizers at Red Frog Events take a lighthearted and fun-focused approach to building their adventurous events, such as obstacle courses, scavenger hunts, and themed bar crawls, to connect city dwellers with local neighborhoods. Their creative, interactive offerings include regularly occurring competitions such as the Warrior Dash, Great Urban Race, and Beach Dash, the proceeds from which usually benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Like the idea of having a pet rock, their events have grown more popular annually, and frequently spring up in cities across the United States.
On June 30, 1904 Col. William and Anna Vilas donated a tract of land to become a public park and free recreational space in memory of their son, Henry, who died due to complications from diabetes at a young age. They added numerous improvements over the decade and in 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo gained its first animal exhibits. Today, the zoo covers 30 acres and features a number of creatures from around the world, ranging from the vanishing chimpanzee and endangered red panda to locals such as the great horned owl and american alligator. The zoo also remains one of the few free AZA-accredited zoos across the country.
Leading up to and following the zoo's centennial, the ReZOOvenation project has expanded the visitor areas, replacing the entrance and gift shop and adding a tropical-rainforest aviary and big-cat complex. A variety of annual events are scheduled, including Halloween at the Zoo, with costumes and stops for sustainable palm-oil candy, and earth day, when children can plant trees to help lower the global temperature just enough for icicles to form. The zoo’s many conservation projects also engage the public in protecting the environment and its inhabitants by installing solar-energy panels, sponsoring trips to save endangered orangutans, and collecting old cell phones.
The Waldvogel family has been planting pumpkins without incident each fall for the past 25 years. This year, however, something peculiar happened. Their 10-acre pumpkin patch yielded pink pumpkins. Before you blame the supernatural or last spring's pink-lemonade spill, know that the Waldvogels grew the pumpkins to promote awareness of breast cancer and raise money for breast-cancer research.
Once you've taken the complimentary hayride out to the pumpkin patch and picked a pumpkin—pink or orange—there's still plenty to do around the farm. Youngsters can sample the 16 attractions, including a 6-acre corn maze, a train ride, and a miniature golf course. Older visitors can browse the market's squash and jams, the bakery's apple pies, and the apple kitchen's fixings for creating your own caramel apple.
Resting on central Mexico's Pacific coast against the backdrop of the Sierra Madre Mountains, Puerto Vallarta has become a popular destination partially for this picturesque landscape, but also for its mild climate, with average high temperatures around 81 degrees in March. Fishing boats and scuba divers explore the depths of Banderas Bay, and ziplines whiz through tropical forest canopy. The former port town also holds on to its historical charm by preserving its cobblestone streets and 19th-century churches. In Viejo Vallarta, the city's Old Town, artists peddle shawls and piñatas, and mariachi bands serenade couples dancing on Plaza Principal.