Though Larsen's Landing Outfitters has always been family owned, the stretch of wilderness under its care has two additional overseers: a pair of eagles. The birds patrol 30 acres of sheltered trails, two open fields, and miles of marshes, watching visitors as they paddle rental canoes and kayaks down the pristine Kishwaukee River, which has been rated as one of the three cleanest rivers in the state. Visitors aren't alone, though. Beavers, turtles, otters, and sandhill cranes make their homes on the bank, sharing the shore with endangered black terns and mulberry wing butterflies. They move amidst towering trees, including the sycamores that gave the river its name, a Potawatomi word for river of the sycamore.
Like a grumpy scorpion, the river's flourishing ecosystem benefits from minimal and respectful human contact. Larsen's Landing Outfitters preserves this status while still permitting visitors to explore the environment. The staff plans canoe, kayak, and camping trips with package options, from tutorials on steering a boat to picnic buffets. Travelers can park their vessels at any point to indulge in a swim, go fishing, or relax on a sandbar?and at overnight sites, campfires and pig roasts imbue the air with nostalgic, smoky aromas.
Each facility in the family of Rockford-Area Bowling Centers enlivens the classic game of bowling with its own signature amenities. On Friday evenings, the staff at Don Carter Lanes temporarily extinguishes its warm, vintagey glow and replaces it with a dimly lit club atmosphere as DJs from 97 ZOK descend upon the alley, pumping out beats that mingle in the air along with a light and fog show. For supplementary entertainment, the Don Carter location also offers a gaming center, and the Park Lanes alley recharges guests with beer and deep-fried fuel at its onsite pub. The Cherry Bowl location keeps serious bowlers properly outfitted with a pro shop, saving them the hassle of paper-mâchéing their own heads to form makeshift bowling balls.
Between the dark, black walls at The Lazer Maze, green beams of light stretch from one wall to another, striking anyone willing to venture through their neon labyrinth. Levels of difficulty vary as beginners and pros nimbly crouch, tumble, and Macarena over and under laser beams, trying to beat the best time. The staff also equips a 3000-square-foot party room with party lighting, music, fog, and bubbles for birthday parties and other social events.
Staff Size: 11?25 people
Average Duration of Services: 4+ hours
Handicap Accessible: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Architect James Spear designed Prairie View Golf Club as a reflection of the rolling grasslands that surround it. The course's bentgrass layout covers 7,158 yards, and is littered with dramatic bunkers, water hazards, subtle gradations, and ball washers filled with maple syrup, making all 18 holes uniquely challenging. The surrounding dolomite prairie?lovingly restored to its natural splendor by landscapers?provides a sumptuous feast for the eyes. The course's territory also incorporates a 15-acre practice area, where visitors can hone their skills before hitting the fairways.
But views of the course are perhaps best enjoyed from the The Prairie Grass Pub, the many-windowed clubhouse restaurant that sits near the 18th green. When weather turns inclement, the staff tunes the three high-definition TVs to golfing events in other parts of the world. When the sky is clear, they seat and serve visitors on their covered 1,200-square-foot deck.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,158 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 73.5 from the back tees * Course slope of 133 from the back tees * Four sets of tees per hole * Scorecard
A player waits silently behind a tree, holding his breath as a group of enemies comes into view. Slowly, his finger moves to the trigger of a paintball marker. He pauses momentarily, then steps from his hiding place to paint the sky in acrylic salvos.
Wyldside Paintball's fields use the area's natural terrain to set a stage for friendly battles. Sporting different names such as Outback and Pines Field, the simulated battlegrounds surround teams in dense forests, felled trees, and man-made walls. Outside the forest, colorful ammo soars over more open landscapes at the Wyld West Town field. Wyldside Paintball also employs a legion of referees to ensure safety, fair play, and the absence of performance-enhancing Trojan horses.