Traditionally, if you wanted to find out the length of a giraffe's tongue, you'd have to hide in a tree with a ready hand and a yardstick. Utah's Hogle Zoo has streamlined the process, however: one of its animal encounters allows guests to feed the long-necked creatures alongside a keeper, who will happily tell you that their purple tongues stretch for 20 inches. The giraffes are just one of more than 800 animals inside the zoo grounds. Spanning 42 acres of verdant hillside property, the exhibits strive to showcase fauna in arenas that mimic their natural habitats.
The polar bear inside Rocky Shores—the zoo's largest exhibit to date—lumbers through a landscape inspired by North America's western coast, with a pool that affords guests underwater views of the bear’s attempts to secure its swim cap. Snow leopards, Siberian lynxes, and amur tigers prowl the Himalayan-inspired scenery of the Asian Highlands. At Elephant Encounter's African Lodge, visitors can touch an elephant skull or a rhino horn before glimpsing the pachyderms in the flesh. Summer shows send eagles and hawks swooping overhead in the Wildlife Theatre. From loping wolves and toothy crocodiles to the sagely gorillas of the Great Apes house, the beasts all benefit from the staff's enrichment efforts, which encourage learning as well as instinctual behaviors.
As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Utah's Hogle Zoo demonstrates a commitment to wildlife conservation that extends beyond its gates. Many of its special events contribute funds to preservation programs. For example, the Orange Utahn Art show raises donations for endangered primates, selling original works by both local artists and the zoo's orangutans, who compose colorful paintings. Guests can even get a closer look at imperiled species by saddling up on top of one—the Conservation Carousel arrays 42 hand-carved sculptures of at-risk animals, such as the red panda, the giant panda, and the false panda, which is just a black poodle that rolled in some paint.
A true polymath, Leonardo da Vinci was never content learning a single subject at a time. Leonardo’s expertise is renowned, as he honed his mind as an artist, scientist, inventor, and mutant ninja. In this same spirit, The Leonardo, his namesake museum, explores the ways that science, technology, art, and creativity connect. Each day, its exhibits bustle with activity as visitors examine thought-provoking installations, experiment with hands-on activities, and participate in ever-changing workshops.
The Dynamic Performance of Nature exhibit, for example, is a giant sine curve made of solar-powered LEDs that stretches the length of room. It flashes and changes its color in response to real-world factors such as solar radiation, humidity, and pollution. Artists, inventors, and other innovative thinkers work within the Lab@Leo, where they help museum guests make creative projects out of different materials. Some of the museum's other exhibits include I.D.: What Makes You, You?, which explores our genetic origins, and Render, where visitors can create their own short animated films.
On a climate-controlled indoor field, teammates covertly relay their group's signal for a surprise attack to one another. Swiftly, the group emerges from behind inflatable red pillars and obstacles and sprints across the turf floor releasing a barrage of colorful paintballs at the opposing team, who thought they were safe for the moment behind triangular barriers. As the colors fly, the scenes play itself out as it has many times at Paintball Addicts, where players take part in fast-paced battles of strategy, timing, and teamwork. Considering safety the most important factor in keeping things fun, trained referees supervise all matches and brief paintball teams before each match on the facility's safety rules and techniques. The paint-splattered arena also boasts a shop where gamers can pick up all the gear they need, as well as spectator areas where friends and family can take in all the action without being transformed into living pointillist paintings.
At Invert Sports, the staff and owners have one goal: to make it as easy as possible for people to enjoy the West's myriad scenic waterways. Whether at California's Lake Shasta or the Colorado River, Invert Sports's customers can rent jet skis, speedboats, wakeboarding boats, and houseboats. To enhance a day on the lake in a MasterCraft speedboat or ski boat, boaters can also rent paddleboards, tubes, water trampolines, or kneeboards. Party boats seat up to 18 passengers for floating festivities, and chartered boats leave the piloting to the professionals so boaters can relax and play gin rummy with a seagull.
Additionally, available tow vehicles allow boaters to get to and from destinations such as Utah Lake, and delivery and pickup services erase the need to hitch and haul cumbersome boats and jet skis. Invert Sports also rents ATVs for summer adventures and snowmobiles for exploring the rugged, snowy terrain surrounding the local lakes and rivers.
The 2012 PGA Utah Golf Pass offers golfers discounted tee times and deals at more than 70 courses throughout the state. By paying the cart fee, pass-wielders enjoy free rounds at seven of the state's premier golf venues, including the red rock-framed fairways of Sand Hollow and the mountainside greens of Birch Creek Golf Course. At dozens of other courses, players enjoy VIP bargains such as percentages off tee times, buy-one, get-one-free deals on greens fees, special discounts for junior golfers, and free admission for infant sand wedges.
Pass holders also receive discounts on range balls, regripping services, and golf merchandise at certain locations. Check the website for a comprehensive list of discounts, all of which remain valid until the end of 2012 or the golf-cart union goes on strike.
Challenge Nation pioneered the urban-adventure race with a race season that includes visits to more than 35 cities across the country. Each scavenger hunt is personalized to the hosting city, exploring its many diverse neighborhoods with a series of clues that would test even the most skilled children's-book detective. The teams?composed of at least two people?vie for a $300 first-place prize. The Amazing Race?style competition rewards quick wits and wise planning over physical fitness, so the best way to prepare is by doing logic puzzles while eating Funyuns and lounging in a La-Z-Boy. The top 25 teams qualify, the top five receiving free entry, to compete in the national championship, which rewards winning teams with a $5,000 cash prize.