Held aloft by 35 years of family tradition, Stillwater Balloon sends intrepid explorers skyward from a port just off the scenic St. Croix River. Friendly FAA-certified pilots operate each craft and readily answer any questions that passengers may have as they float through gorgeous views of the surrounding valley. The billowy, multicolored behemoths cruise at treetop level, allowing travelers to shake hands with monkeys. Private and semiprivate flights are the business's forte, but Stillwater Balloon also accommodates custom flights for backyard surprises or ultimate school pickups.
At Stillwater Boat Rentals, adventurous explorers can enjoy the scenic views of the St. Croix River while perched in a pontoon boat that seats 10–14 passengers, depending on the boat's size. Blaze new trails through thickly-forested waterways while commandeering one of Stillwater’s six novice-friendly, 22-foot pontoon rental boats, available in three styles. The Deluxe ($270 for four hours) seats 12 people and offers plush lounge seating for posteriors of all types, while the spacious Super LX ($255 for four hours) seats 14 passengers, allowing Parliament Funkadelic tribute bands to enjoy maritime merriment in between Minnesota gigs. Stillwater's third and final pontoon style, the Fish & Cruise ($270 for four hours) seats 10 passengers and, with its swivel seats and fish-finder equipment, is ideal for fishing fanatics. Starting out at the Stillwater Marina Gas Dock near historic downtown Stillwater, enthusiastic river pilots can wreak wake havoc for five miles to the north, viewing limestone bluffs, braving backwater mazes, and invading island wildernesses claimed by bearded castaways before reaching the turnaround point at the high bridge. From there, pontooners can pontificate on the origin of river spirits and disrupt random beach parties all the way down to Prescott, Wisconsin, before returning.
Pump It Up's Inflatable Party Zone balloons kids’ excitement with an enormous playspace that welcomes open-play sessions and private parties. Tots 34" and taller run and leap in huge bounce houses, soar down an inflatable slide, and practice for future zero-gravity triathlon events in a bouncy jousting arena and basketball court. Various open-play sessions give kids of all ages free rein to the fun zone while accompanying parents stand by to officiate bounce-house property-line disputes. Pump It Up also boasts myriad celebratory and special-event shindigs, with friendly staffers supervising jumpers, and serving pizza and favors in a vibrant party room.
Fourteen inflatable castles and games fill Club Just Jump with fun-fostering facilities that create a party palace for kids during open-play, bounce sessions, and private parties. Six predesigned party packages await giddy groups with snacks, decor, and activities such as face painting and spin art. Alternatively, an à la carte menu lets hosts curate their own celebrations by picking balloon bouquets, goody bags, and entertainment one at a time. Little hands keeping busy at the Furry Friends Factory stuff their own fuzzy creatures, choosing from 24 creatures that include unicorns, frogs, and industrial-concrete-supply reps. On Monday nights, parents can bring young antigravity aficionados to Family Fun Night, where guests play games, create crafts, and refuse to touch the ground made of invisible lava.
About 30 minutes from Minneapolis, the crew of Kinni Kayak runs tours on the Kinnickinnic River in River Falls, Wisconsin. The 3.5-hour excursions travel an 8-mile stretch of the river in a secluded, nonresidential area teeming with wildlife. For first-time kayakers, Kinni offers lessons with instruction as basic as how to sit in the craft and hold the paddle and as advanced as paddling techniques and fish grammar.