Founded by sports enthusiast and former adolescent Rick Hart, Jump Start Sports works to enrich pupils' childhoods by developing useful life skills through athletics. Qualified counselors employ their wealth of experience working with children to help campers learn teamwork and fair play as well as the fundamentals of fielding baseballs, scoring soccer goals, or synchronizing pom-pom work. A course structure built around age-appropriate activities, group play, and free electives ensures that students never get bored, and an 8:1 pupil-teacher ratio enables one-on-one assistance to young champions as they practice the graceful art of pitching or the scheming intrigue of free-agent contract negotiation.
In 1880, the final fasteners and sleepers on the Valley Railway were tightened into place. It wouldn’t be long before a billowing cloud of steam announced the arrival of the first train running through the Cuyahoga Valley, a territory that had served as a passageway for foot traffic for thousands of years. Over the next century, the railway contributed to the growth of commerce between Akron and Cleveland, changing ownership multiple times, and transforming from a freight train, into a passenger train, back to a freight train, and finally into a UFO.
Now celebrating its 41st year of passenger-rail service, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad transports sightseers over the historic rails through 33,000 acres of land owned by the National Park Service. With a year-round roster of trips, including wine- and beer-tasting excursions, passengers can set forth on morning, afternoon, and evening journeys that sweep past meadowlands, pinery, and rivers and give glimpses of native wildlife, such as fox, deer, bobcat mascots, and owls.
A 34-foot King Cat twin-hull catamaran sets sail on the waters of Lake Erie, its 900-horsepower engine churning up a frothy wake as it leaves port and enters the aqueous abyss. At Sara-J Sportfishing Charters, guests spend a sunny afternoon on the open water casting and reeling in the lake's bounty of fish. With more than 20 years of experience, captain Gary Carpenter is confident enough in his abilities that he promises that charters will either reel in fish by the end of their trip or passengers receive their money back. Tours set out in the morning or afternoon as captains pilot vessels towards schools of walleye, steelhead, or perch swimming beneath the surface. Passengers soak up the sun, nibble on snacks, and regale stories of reeling in their first bluegill or misplaced water-skier.
Yorktown Lanes boasts 40 lanes, each of which is equipped with automatic scoring systems. Just beyond the lanes' edge, a lineup of colorful vinyl chairs adds a touch of vintage class. And inside the newly renovated bar onsite, bartenders liberally pour spirits, draft brews, and other fine beverages. The alley also hosts birthday bowling parties in one of two private rooms, including a banquet hall that can host wedding receptions or graduate seminars on the difference between duckpins and regular bowling pins.
Peak Performance's USPTA-certified pros help fledgling first-timers and proficient players hone their tennis expertise in a comfortable environment with a one-hour, private tennis lesson. Under the direction of Muriel Stine and Kevin Vaughn, who possess more than six decades of combined experience, the skilled staff provides an experiential lesson that titillates tennis learners on a mental, physical, social, and intergalactic level. From sharpening game-time strategies and improving physical ability to building court-born friendships and nurturing passion for the game, the one-hour lessons are as well-rounded as holes in the net caused by confused woodpeckers.
Bally enshrines exercise classes, calorie-burning equipment, and a fitness-focused staff within its sanctuaries of health. A 30-day membership includes access to a spread of group exercise classes, including Pilates, Reaction Cycling, and Step Fitness (class offerings vary by location). For self-guided worker-outers, cardio equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, cross-trainers, and stair climbers torch calories while entertaining the brain with video entertainment and integrated music systems that occasionally whisper quotes from Charles Atlas. Bally also boasts an array of strength machines, free weights, and small-apparatus equipment, and grants gym-goers access to on-site locker rooms, showers, and, at some locations, a pool and steam room. Visit each location's webpage for a list of specific amenities and the lineup of classes.