Aquatic Adventures of Michigan is the joint venture of independent dive instructors Kim D. Parker and Tom Rhoad, who, after years of working with other dive shops, yearned for a place where they could stretch their fins, teach scuba their own way, and bellow sea shanties as loudly as they liked. Today, their PADI Five Star IDC facility is fast approaching its 10-year anniversary, and has grown beyond basic PADI training programs to incorporate everything from underwater digital photography to lessons in deep diving, wreck diving, and night diving. The shop's instructors are fully certified in first aid and emergency oxygen use, and provide factory-authorized service to big-name companies such as Poseidon, Genesis Scuba, and Dive Rite.
On top of offering certified instruction in everything from open-water diving to sea-serpent domestication, the crew supplies fellow divers with quality scuba, snorkeling, and swimming equipment. They also plan exotic expeditions to the Caribbean and tropical Pacific for warm-water dives, and divers looking to stick closer to home can inquire about day trips or weekend getaways to locales such as the Great Lakes or Whitefish Point.
English Gardens began as a single, family-owned nursery in 1954, and has since blossomed into a full-service landscaping and garden center with multiple locations, all owned and operated by second-generation family members. Each location facilitates both indoor and outdoor gardening and holiday projects with a large selection of holiday lights, trim, decor, and gifts. The florist department brings the outdoor flourish inside by arranging fresh-cut floral bouquets and gift baskets for all manner of occasions. Workshops and in-store presentations also allow the green-thumbed experts to impart advice on common gardening and decorating topics such as building a kitchen herb garden or housetraining a dogwood tree. During the holiday season, English Gardens transforms each of its retail stores into spectacular Christmas centers with nearly 20 professionally decorated theme trees and everything needed to festively decorate homes.
More than 90 years have passed since James N. Erwin planted his first tree at Erwin Orchards. Since then, three generations of the Erwin family have expanded onto more than 200 acres of land. In the fall, trees burst with a palette of crimson, carmine, and pink as the Erwins transform their farm into a celebration of autumn. Wagons carry visitors and families around the farm during the day, and people cozy up next the bonfire on haunted attraction nights with hot cups of cider, banners of steam unfurling into the evening. Monsters wander the barn's old halls at night, and echoes of screams drift from the doors as live actors horrify visitors in a corn maze around Halloween each year. The farm strives to use biologically friendly pest controls instead of pesticides, keeping the fields of raspberries and pumpkins as safe as they were when the farm was founded.
Brighton Beads & More helps beadists, metal workers, and other crafty artists fill their supply boxes and hone their crafts. Their experienced instructors teach novice and seasoned artists alike, helping them create custom art in a variety of classes. Students can sign up for skill-building classes, such as bead stringing, metalsmithing, or wire wrapping, or learn how to make specific pieces such as fused-glass mirrors or decorative chains. The calendar’s many offerings allow guests to work around brimming schedules or coordinate alibis for ice-cream-truck holdups. Brighton Beads & More also encourages customers to place orders for supplies they don’t carry and request custom classes they don’t offer, so their staff can attempt to leap through beaded rings of fire to accommodate those wishes.
One empty school bus, twenty-seven abandoned cars, and a desolate two-story house are the only refuges for combatants roving an expansive urban field. Fourteen additional playfields set the stage for games, surrounding players in open fields and dense forests. It's at Futureball Paintball's 115-acre facility that friendly paintball and Airsoft battles unfold each day and have unfolded for more than 20 years. While vehicle carcasses characterize the urban landscapes, two airfields exhibit red inflatables that mimic the ruins of ancient bounce castles. Between games, a 5-acre picnic area serves as neutral ground to strategize and nibble snacks.
To ensure fair play, Futureball Paintball's staff leads brief orientations and monitors all action. They can also repair and upgrade guns.
Extensively trained in the Hunter/Jumper riding tradition, Great Escape Stables owner Robyn Schamante harnesses her equestrian knowledge to guide students of all ages toward expert horsemanship and riding skills. During private and group lessons, Schamante and her amiable staff instill in their students the values of traditional horsemanship, such as kindness and respect for the stable’s docile mounts or gentleness when french-braiding a horse’s tail. Schamante also hosts special events, such as horse shows, throughout the year and day camps during the summer.