For one week in June, myriad designers, performances, and burgeoning styles descend on Huntsville in a flurry of fashion sponsored by Alabama Fashion Alliance. Local businesses such as Le Jeune House of Fashion & Design and designers from New York team up with cherry-picked models that don sought-after frocks to strut their stuff for transfixed audience members and clothes-obsessed cocktail napkins. Hair shows, awards, and clothing competitions cascade across the packed schedule, and the finale runway fashion show completes the festivities like the perfect clutch completes an ensemble.
"Tread softly," say players on Insane Paintball’s outdoor forts course. No matter how careful you are on the ground, opponents likely lurk atop the field’s 14 one- and two-story buildings, waiting to strike on the unsuspecting players below. More buildings tower above the wooded field, where teams can take cover behind mounds and old, paint-splattered cars. On the facility’s regulation field, meanwhile, only inflatables stand between you and incoming pellets.
Those pellets fire from Insane Paintball’s semi-automatic rental guns, part of gear packages that include face masks and compressed-air bottles. Snacks await players after long stretches of recreational, scenario, or tournament games, as do shopping sprees inside an on-site 3,500-square-foot retail store. Besides stocking new gear, the store hosts certified technicians, who repair malfunctioning equipment such as guns that only let players load crayon nubs.
A U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association–rated master pilot, Matt Taber has been soaring through the skies since 1978, during which time he's managed to design several of his own gliders. He's also devised and constructed other contraptions, such as glider-towing equipment and lightweight tow planes—both of which his company, Lookout Mountain Flight Park, uses to teach new recruits how to surf the skies. Matt leads a team of USHPA-certified pilots and instructors that coaches students of all levels in basics and advanced maneuvers through on-the-ground training and hands-on tandem flights, during which pilots safely guide their charges over the scenic mountains and blurry bushes of Lookout Valley at altitudes of up to 4,000 feet. Conducted on a 55-acre private training facility, lessons can include the overnight use of amenities such as a pool, volleyball court, bathhouse, and cabins.
Tennessee Skydiving, LLC, which is one of the closest skydiving schools to Nashville, boats a squadron of crack skydiving instructors that are more daring than most. Riding alongside clients in their spacious and speedy turbo-charged plane, the instructors strap themselves to jumpers for tandem jumps at the standard height of 10,500 feet, which provides 45 seconds of free fall. Sometimes, though, they urge the pilot to climb higher—up to 18,000 feet—for jumps they call “extreme tandem”. At this height, divers need oxygen tanks to breathe, but the risks are well worth the reward—a lengthier, 90-second free fall at face-stretching speeds of up to 120 mph. Even at such intense speeds, adventurers have no need to fear because Tennessee Skydiving is Department of Defense certified with most of their instructors being ex-military.
A Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers and winner of the 2009 Larry MacPhail Trophy for inventive promotional efforts in the community, the Lookouts induce crackerjack-tossing cheers thanks to a skilled roster of battle-ready bat-and-glove brandishers. Settle into an up-close lower box seat (the seating areas in green) at scenic AT&T Field, where guests can absorb majestic views of the surrounding greenery and use their souvenir program to call out the opposing first baseman's credit score.
Led by more than 1,000 wellness experts at locations in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas, and Tennessee, the more than 30,000 members of Prairie Life Fitness have discovered why the company slogan is "Fitness for the Entire Family." The certified trainers and instructors cater to exercisers of various ages and abilities, all within an upscale, welcoming atmosphere. Kids take advantage of engaging childcare activities and youth programs, including swimming lessons, martial arts, and story time. Meanwhile, parents can workout on the latest equipment, including stationary cycles and Pilates machines. Guests can also relax with amenities such as massage therapy, tanning beds, and a whirlpool powered by wholesale bags of Pop Rocks.