Sure, it might be simple to win a local HORSE tournament, but it takes a little more skill to make it to the big leagues. Fortunately, the team of coaches at Elevate NEXT usher aspiring b-ballers to new heights with summer camps and à la carte training sessions. The crew includes Marcus White—who briefly claimed the rebounding record on the Lakers D-League team before getting sidelined by an injury—alongside Sky Hyacinthe and Ben Aronin.
Lions and tigers lurk on the glowing murals of Wildcat Station’s jungle-themed, black-light miniature-golf course, where balls roll toward nine challenging holes. More competition flanks the greens at the arcade, where 8 balls sink into the pool table’s pockets, pucks ricochet against the sides of the air-hockey table, and virtual races commence at video-game stations. Postgame birthday celebrations commence in the mirror-lined party area with pizza and soda feasts. Though it accommodates group or special events seven days a week, Wildcat Station typically closes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the school year so youngsters can catch up on their geometry homework and gain an advantage on the seventh hole.
After Frankie Cheek discovered segway tours while visiting Italy, he decided to start his own company in his native New Orleans. When he was boarding a plane back home, Hurricane Katrina struck, redirecting him to Louisiana’s grandfather country: France. While exploring Paris in the wake of the devastating tragedy back home, Cheek drew inspiration for his future segway tours—he was resolved, according to his website, to "help a city rich in history move forward while riding the most high-tech transporter available." Since returning to New Orleans, he’s led daily segway adventures, whirring groups of sightseers around the French Quarter, the riverfront, and Jackson Square with the ease, maneuverability, and safety-minded attitude of a cool biker gang. Plus, through a partnership with other tour companies, Cheek can also guide guests through swamps, plantations, and supposedly haunted locales.
Amid the high-tech environs of a climate-controlled arena with a turf field, Playmakers Indoor Sports facilitates the frolicking needs of recreationalists with a full menu of soccer, lacrosse, flag football, and paintball. Throughout the year, members of various skill levels unite at the enclosed facility for leagues and pickup games, eliminating alfresco annoyances such as bad weather and verbally abusive seagulls. Every Friday night, the Northshore location's field sprouts a series of inflatable bunkers for paintball sessions, during which sharpshooters strap on provided protective gear and the equipment necessary for dappling human canvases with high-speed brushstrokes. Staffers further enlighten budding athletes during sports camps and kids' programs, and the facility can be rented out for private parties.
Between its well-provisioned weight rooms, fitness classes, and pool, the recently renovated Southern Oaks Athletic Club is a dependable resource for corporeal wellness. The free-weight wonderland hosts both novice and veteran body sculptors, and the resistance and treadmill room harbors toning and heartening equipment in the form of elliptical machines, leg presses, and heartstring tuggers. Fitness pass guests can also participate in one-hour classes such as yoga and Latin-infused Zumba. Aquatic exercisers jettison calories as they log laps or play intense games of water basketball. Lifeguards are always on duty during pool hours, and a baby pool provides the perfect conditions for tots to evolve into adult frogs.
With its imposing, slate-gray façade, the 170-year-old U.S. Custom House may be the last building in which you’d expect to hear the delighted squeals of children. But behind the steely columns, the building erupts into 23,000 square feet of colorful displays and fluttering, scuttling insects, courtesy of the Audubon Society and Insectarium. In the Asian garden, hundreds of butterflies dodge shafts of sunlight to alight on tropical ferns and the shoulders of young visitors. And at the Insects of New Orleans gallery, visitors can ogle the pink katydids, cockroaches, and lovebugs that contribute to the city’s heritage.
These bug-filled displays are all part of the insectarium’s mission to conserve Louisiana’s indigenous species and inspire stewardship in its visitors. While adults can sate their curiosity with the vast array of exotic species, curators gear many displays toward young guests by making them lighthearted and interactive: the Field Camp’s entomologist answers questions about how to collect bugs or break up flea-circus strikes, and at Bug Appétit, chefs dole out insect-filled delicacies to adventurous palates.