From nearly a mile above the ground, the sailplane’s wraparound windows open onto sweeping views of the Wisconsin countryside. Rolling hills and forests, streams, and lakes dot the landscape, and on a clear day, the Chicago skyline peeks out from the horizon. Sylvania Soaring Adventures’s FAA-certified flight instructors pilot guests over these vistas in a fleet of Schweizer SGS 1-26E, Schweizer 2-33, and Grob 103 sailplanes. Towed by a traditional airplane, the gliders reach altitudes of up to 5,000 feet, well above the habitat of endangered birthday balloons. Once released, professional pilots demonstrate basic flight principles, point out landmarks of interest, and sometimes hand over the controls. They also helm training programs to certify students who want to fly solo or pilot gliders for their friends and family.
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.
Beneath the lofty ceiling at Carlson Ice Arena’s year-round rink gleams 17,000 square feet of well-groomed ice. Rented skates clasp guests’ ankles as they slice across its frozen surface during public skate sessions, and pupils in hockey and figure-skating classes learn to deftly maneuver blades to score slap shots, land lutzes, and scrawl cursive love notes for Zamboni drivers. Chilly fingers defrost as guests lounge in the 600-seat spectator stands, and iceless recreation areas such as the soft, three-level Sapora Playworld or the Tiny Tots Playspace host troupes of carousing kids.