On his way to work one day, Andre Boucher spotted a hot air balloon, and on a whim he decided to follow it. He met it where it landed, and the aircraft's pilot offered to take Andre up for a ride. Ever since he was young, Andre had been fascinated by aviation, but airsickness and a codependent relationship with gravity always prevented him from enjoying it firsthand. But as he felt the basket drifting with the wind instead of battling against it, Andre knew he had finally found a way to experience flight. He has since acquired more than 23 years of professional experience, even lending his expertise to an elaborate promotional flight for Pixar's balloon-based film Up.
Andre now captains A&A Balloon Rides, LLC, where colorful carriages lift patrons between 500 and 2,000 feet above the lakes, treetops, and fields of New Hampshire. Guests can arrange private or group flights, and they can set up flown or tethered rides for school events, company picnics, or aerial-photography sessions, the latter of which can finally prove that birds fly on hoverboards.
Film buffs across six states stare wide-eyed at large cinema screens, losing themselves in first-run Hollywood movies and the smell of fresh, buttery kernels within Your Neighborhood Theatre's 17 locations. Though all theaters prioritize comfortable seating, old-fashioned friendly service, and high-stakes preshow trivia slideshows, each location encompasses its own distinct charm, be it through arthouse décor, 3-D screens, or Rhode Island's vintage 1950's drive-in setting.
At Action Games Paintball, players streak across 80 acres comprising six woodsball fields speckled with forts, towers, bridges, and bunkers. After playing one of 10 themed games such as capture the flag or attack and defend, they post up against a towering tree or at a picnic table and dig into a complimentary, all-you-can-eat barbecue lunch.
A stream of yellow and black buzzes by. It's not a swarm of bumblebees, but friends and family racing each other in yellow and black go-karts around Checkered Flag Indoor Karting's 23,000-square-foot speedway. Strapping on helmets and sliding in behind the wheel of 15HP electric karts, up to 10 drivers jockey for position while whipping around eight snaky turns and sling-shooting past opponents on the wide lanes along the 100-foot front stretch. The facility's electronic timing system lets speedsters check out their best lap times from each 20-lap race. Racers must be at least 54" tall or born with tires instead of feet to traverse that track, but during birthday parties kids aged 4–9 and at least 36" tall zip across the 100-foot Mini Cup track. With a snack bar slicing pizza and pouring soda and an arcade, the facility can play host to parties for older kids and adults, as well as corporate team-building events. And for kids and adults seeking serious competition, Checkered Flag organizes leagues lead by indoor karting champion, Tom Prioli.
The trainers at Art of Strength eschew newfangled machines. Instead, they employ only fitness tools that have stood the test of time: weight balls, ropes, logs, sandbags, and boxes. Undulation training with heavy ropes challenges strength and endurance, and kettlebells work the body as a whole and torch calories. Instructors also employ vintage progression weight-training exercises, which leave patrons as strong as ancient warriors or the guys who had to push ancient warriors’ strollers.
A Mass Tour Card grants golfers one round of golf at each of six Massachusetts courses. Golfers must pay the cart fee at each course, after which they can steer their steed over the upper Cape Cod charm of The Brookside Club's course or park their cart in the rustic covered bridge at Maplegate Country Club. Quail Ridge Country Club's course takes golfers through scenic conservation land and stone relics of its previous life as a farm.
The nine-hole course at Lombardi's Hillside Country Club challenges clubbers with water hazards on six holes, whereas Bradford Country Club's difficult, par 70 layout tests putting strokes with smooth bentgrass greens. The sixth course, Norwood Country Club, invites players to smash shots and stare down flagsticks across 6,009 yards of relatively flat terrain with medium-sized greens.