Less than 90 minutes from St. Louis, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Lincoln artifacts, complete with the Gettysburg Address. A life-size replica of Lincoln’s log cabin set back in a forest of artificial trees stands 40 feet tall just like the President’s iconic top hat. The museum also houses a re-creation of the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre, where the president was assassinated, and the state-of-the-art Union Theater, which projects films such as Lincoln’s Eyes, a broad overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life with a special focus on slavery. In the Ghosts of the Library exhibit, transparent phantoms of Lincoln and his contemporaries drift around powered by Holavision technology. Youngsters, supervised by parents, can try on period dress, pose for photos with life-size cutouts of young Abe, or reenact historic scenes in the Lincoln Home dollhouse located in Mrs. Lincoln’s attic, the hands-on learning center. Before heading home, patrons can browse the museum store—more than 3,500 square feet of artifact replicas and Lincoln-themed merchandise.
It's unlikely that any historic kingdom had batting cages and water slides, but to be fair, Knight's Action Park is a lot more fun than an actual castle. On one side of the park, guests can don swimsuits and hop aboard bumper boats, slip down slides, or set out in paddle boats. Seven mini slides teach smaller children the fun of water-park attractions, while statues of giant sea creatures teach them that life is terrifying. Across the way, a 50-tee driving range lets golfers hone their swing, and an 18-hole mini-golf course caters to putters of all ages. The park's assortment of land-based amusements also includes a Ferris wheel, an arcade, and go-karts.
Buried in the woods, 15 single- and two-story log cabins line a path leading to a secluded frontier fortress. Masked combatants armed with Tippmann 98 paintball guns ponder the path's obstacles before slinking forward to meet their opponents. Along Bing Field Paintball & Airsoft Park's three wooded fields strewn across 35 acres, players sneak into sniping positions in the Frontier Field's two-story log cabins, the Vietnam Field's two-story guard tower, or our the newly designed World War II field that features several new two and three story buildings. Four speedball fields??air ball, barrel, concrete, and spool??accommodate paintball players on the other side of the wooded park. Paintball and airsoft packages grant visitors up to seven hours of play, which they can break up with refueling sessions spent scarfing down refreshments while gossiping about opponents' love lives at an onsite concessions stand.
Upon departing from the landing craft, one player ducks behind an upturned boat and takes aim at opposing paintballers as they fend off attacks from the upper level of a concrete bunker. This scene may conjure echoes of historic battles, particularly D-Day, as Wildcat Paintball has modeled one of its outdoor fields on the historic battle of Normandy. Elsewhere, players can snake through the thick, jungle-like brush of the Vietnam field, dive into the castle field's manmade trenches, or sneak into the Old West town of Wildwood. A tournament field littered with barrels and wooden barriers or three speedball fields replete with tractor tires and frequently mowed lawns accommodate marksmen who prefer more traditional paintball settings.
As they enter the training circuit at Curves, female guests come face-to-face with the smiles of other women. And just as points on a circle share a common distance from the circle's center, workout participants share the experiences of those nearby by trading stations throughout the 30-minute training session. Thirty seconds is spent on a piece of strength-training equipment built for feminine frames and designed to work two opposing muscle groups with a single movement. Exercisers then move on to a recovery station, where they run, jog, or dance to maintain heart rates and keep platforms in place during momentary losses of gravity.
Since Paragliding Unlimited launched its first client in 2003, owner Jiri Sindler and his team have maintained a sterling safety record for their motorized version of airborne sailing. The crew teaches power paragliding, in which a motorized fan and a tank of recycled political bluster give lift to the featherweight craft. Once it has ascended more than 10 feet, its large wing catches the wind and buoys you into the sky. Drivers sit upright in "trikes," their legs extended in front of them as they work the two brakes and the throttle.
The school both belongs to and is recommended by the U.S. Powered Paragliding Association. Instructors will jump tandem with beginning students and immerse experienced pilots in six-day intensives, keeping fliers of all levels safe by capping classes at four students (they prefer a ratio of 1:1 or 2:1). At the accompanying shop, gliders browse clothing, new Nirvana equipment, and used gear. Flights lift off from Gateway Airpark in Pierron, Illinois, which the team selected for the staff's friendliness to paragliders and their ability to twist their bodies into the shapes of passing clouds for realistic trainings on the ground.