As the centrepiece of a sprawling 32-acre site, the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum preserves Canada's rich baseball heritage while leading visitors around the base paths of the game's history. In one room, fans ogle displays dedicated solely to the Expos and Blue Jays, and in another, artifacts from across the globe trap eyes in a pickle between vintage photos and authentic uniforms. The consistently rotated lineup of displays also saves a spot for current Canadian ballplayers, as well as for autographed Babe Ruth mementos that, despite their age, still retain their new hotdog smell.
Each year, the Hall of Fame adds new members to a select group of inductees, which currently includes 93 individuals and ranges from pro ballplayers and amateurs to umpires and trainers. In 2012 alone, the museum and its surrounding ball fields will play host to more than 450 events, highlighted by training clinics and minor league games. The 10th annual Kids on Deck summer camp also calls the site home, giving youngsters aged 8–14 the chance to perfect such vital skills as bunting and spitting a sunflower seed at least 10 feet.
At Pro Dojos, certified martial-arts experts lead students of all ages and skill levels through a variety of pugilistic disciplines. Each location is independently owned, so the martial-arts styles may vary, but many offer karate, tae kwon do, kick-boxing, aikido, and jujitsu classes. The instructors elucidate the noble combat arts to kiddos as young as 4 years old, helping them build strength and motor skills while instilling the values of self-confidence. Teen classes focus on honing discipline and treating yourself and others with respect, and adult classes reinforce cardiovascular conditioning, strength, balance, and coordination. The instructors also lead classes for the whole family, allowing them to bond as a unit, which could possibly lead to starring in a hit sitcom about a crime-fighting family who takes down comical villains in their idyllic suburban neighborhood.
Though the winter snow has melted, inner tubes continue to zoom down the routes at Chicopee Tube Park—now cruising atop Italian mats, designed for waterless tubing. A host of other outdoor attractions complement the park’s eponymous activity. Two ziplines—an 80-metre line for first timers and a 300-metre line for veteran fliers—let passengers glide above the treetops without having to hitch a ride on a passing pterodactyl. The Eurobungy trampoline also gives guests the gift of flight, granting harness-sporting park-goers the ability to leap up to 25 feet in the air, and the spider-web climbing tower offers stationary bird’s-eye views once climbers have hoisted themselves to its pinnacle. For low-to-the-ground fun, harnessed participants at the horizontal ropes can balance six feet off the ground, getting a taste of tightrope walking without that chalky, acrophobic aftertaste.
Cofounded by dancing legend Fred Astaire to train new generations of rug cutters with his signature easy grace, Fred Astaire Dance Studio uses a unique curriculum to create comfort on the dance floor. Expert instructors start with steps and rhythms common to most social dances, steadily building toward more specialized combinations of moves for a variety of rhythm-dance styles such as cha-cha and samba and smooth-dance styles such as the foxtrot and waltz. Once they've learned to follow, lead, or just pare down unnecessary finger snaps, students can take to the purple-walled dance floor to practice their steps and try on new partners at social parties.
The consortium of professional instructors at Fred Astaire Dance Studios, which was cofounded by the legendary toe tapper himself, shepherds students of all ages and skill levels through lessons that span the style spectrum. Private lessons allow enthusiastic teachers to fine-tune individual students' techniques and form, using their expert eyes. Patrons can learn how to cavort through classic waltz and fox-trot romps or swivel through the modern steps of salsa, swing, or samba. For dancers hoping to hoof it up in a social setting, the group practice parties provide a one-night extravaganza of fun and demonstrations.
Fire Fly Stables' coach, Jennifer Bruner, works with a horse and rider as a team to ensure each has a comfortable riding experience. Her competitive lessons include dressage and hunter/jumper disciplines for individuals and groups. She also teaches new riders the basics of working with horses.
For those who own their own steeds, off-site coaching is available. Riders can also bring their mounts in and keep them at Fire Fly Stables' boarding facilities, which give animals large, airy stalls and private trails where they can practice their moonwalks.