Challenger Space Center is on a mission: to excite and educate its visitors about science and the vast wonders of outer space. That excitement starts as soon as guests walk onto the entrance's elevated gantry bridge to see a four-story, space-themed mural painted by Robert McCall. Then it's on to the museum, where the center's affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution enables it to offer top-notch exhibits, which range from a model of an Iridium satellite to three separate meteorite exhibits. Regular Family Star Nights encourage families to bond over stargazing presentations, a simulated shuttle launch, and other activities.
To immerse themselves in the space experience, groups can also sign up for two-hour simulated space missions that unfold in three spaces: a mission control room designed after the Johnson Space Center; the Spacecraft, which simulates a room onboard the International Space Station; and the Earth Space Transit Module, which helps crew members dock there.
Inside Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park, a wall-to-wall half-pipe made entirely of trampolines gives children and adults a venue where they can safely hop, bounce, and somersault to their hearts' content. The vast, taut, springy flooring doesn't end at the walls, but instead the trampolines continue upward to form angles perfect for crawling up, springing off, or sliding down. Visitors can meander along the bounceable terrain in the open trampoline arena, throw themselves into giant foam pits, or sharpen their competitive edges in trampoline-assisted sports such as dodgeball or SkySlam. SkyRobics classes merge gravity-defying fun with fitness during instructor-led workouts that include calisthenics, core exercises, and strength-building aerobics to help guests shed calories without hurting their joints or taking a wrong turn on a treadmill.
Across nearly three-fourths of the United States, AMF Bowling Co. reverberates year-round as families, friends, and competitors send bowling balls in search of upright pins careening down slick lanes. The company first established itself as an industry leader in 1946, the same year the sport introduced automated pinspotters.
Today, more than 20 million bowlers annually make AMF their battleground for wars against pins. As the largest owner and and operator of bowling centers in the US, AMF locations offer high-tech scoring technology, a classic design, and a menu stocked with American-inspired classics such as wings, pizzas, burgers, and beer.
Cowtown Paintball's central staging area lets patrons watch the action in several areas at one time, from rapid-fire games on green speed-ball fields dotted with obstacles to rec-ball sessions playing out within an urban desert theme. Paintballers seek shelter behind abandoned cars and a stack of metal drums, or hide within a plywood structure adorned with a black skull and crossbones, rumored to be a ship beached by the world’s worst pirates. The fields also host advanced camps and events such as zombie-apocalypse scenarios, where paintballs keep the mythical undead at bay.
Just as an oven needs to pre-heat before baking a tray of jalapeño poppers, baseball players need to raise their internal temperatures to 400 degrees before opening day. Today's Groupon basks in the nine-inning joys of spring training: for $22, you get two baseline tickets (a $40 value) to one of four ballgames at Camelback Ranch in Glendale. You can also get two baseline field box tickets for $30 (a $56 value). Watch the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago White Sox hammer out their 2010 starting lineups as they play under the springtime aroma of fresh-cut grass, hot dogs, and remorse. All available games begin at 1 p.m.