Using the Ozark Mountains as a striking backdrop, Kings River Golf Course invites clubbers to swing and putt their way across 18 holes of gently undulating terrain. Dogwoods and redbuds cast cool shadows over each fairway, their leaves showcasing rich shades of green in the summer, fading to an impressionistic tapestry of reds, oranges, and yellows in the fall, and assuming a velvety purple once a year to celebrate Prince's birthday. As golfers split fairways with soaring drives, views of the Ozark Mountains appear through the tree lines, including a greenside vista of Table Rock Lake on the 15th hole.
After sunset, greenskeepers mark flags with glow sticks, inviting golfers to swing through the darkness in rounds of night golf. The course fosters post-round relaxation at a rustic patio, where guests can sip drinks and insist that nearby deer, red fox, and turkeys—commonly encountered on the grounds—stay off their lawn.
Jack Spears and his sons David and Austin want people to love the Illinois River as much as they do, so they placed their resort's expansive camping, RV, and cabin grounds on the bank in positions that allow boarders to appreciate the scenery year-round. In the summer, their General Store's ice-cream fountain pours nonstop as river-goers take a rest in the shop's shade. The resort boasts year-round security to preserve campers' gear and scare off loitering snowmen in the winter. The staff also doles out dry goods, supplies, and groceries to campers or families staying in the manors of Pine Valley Retreat throughout the year.
The experienced strapclingers at Stay in the Saddle's Cactus Bars Ranch teach fledgling equestrians how to ride in the authentic Western riding style. Different from methods taught at most instructional facilities, the Stay in the Saddle method incorporates comfort, control, confidence, and telepathic communication to create an unbreakable bond between horse and rider. Stop by Cactus Bars Ranch for a challenging, on-site lesson, or take a digital ride with the Basic Western Horsemanship and Riding Lessons DVD, which provides safety, handling, grooming, tack, and riding know-how through comprehensive elucidations and demonstrations. The DVD's instructor, Janel Brookshire, teaches a deep and balanced seat and offers tips on buying your first horse while discussing ways to teach your second horse not to split its infinitives.
Kick'n Paintball Park's staffers organize games at hyperball, airball, and concept fields—including an indoor facility that stays open year round. At the start of each game, these spaces transform into simulated battlefields where acrylic paintballs rain down like pennies on Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Players dash across the indoor turf or outdoor grassy terrain, taking refuge behind towering pipes or red-and-blue inflatables. As the last paintball falls, players depart the field guilt-free as Kick'n Paintball Park uses 100% biodegradable paints. Away from the fields, staffers repair gear and sell new equipment within a pro shop. Paintball markers line the walls, and shelves hold ample supplies of carbon dioxide.
What was once primarily used by the military has now become a popular—and adrenaline-inducing—sport. Ozarks Skydive Center takes the fear out of skydiving with expert instruction and supportive tandem jumps. Harnessed to instructors, new and seasoned jumpers alike experience the thrilling feeling of falling from nearly 2 miles. Ozarks Skydive Center also offers solo-flying options for more experienced divers, as well as licensing courses that teach adventure junkies how to exit planes, fall into the fetal position, and react to an emergency.
Founded by Joe Estes as a nonprofit operation, Safari Joe's Reptile World provides a 200-acre sanctuary for more than 250 exotic animals—including lions, leopards, alligators, pythons, and large tortoises—that were unwanted, abused, or neglected. Each week, five to six new animals are donated or abandoned at the facility. Though these animals cannot return to the wild, they receive nurturing care from a cadre of more than 30 volunteers.
While newly abandoned animals remain hidden from view within the sanctuary, the park also boasts exhibit such as Reptile World. This educational, hands-on environment encourages visitors to interact with a slew of exotic animals while learning about protecting each species and their natural habitats.
The Swim School of Joplin provides certification-level scuba lessons, diving vacations, and rental gear to help students to gain their underwater legs. Originally founded in Memphis in 1961, The Swim School of Joplin has since expanded aquatic operations to four states in the South and Midwest and runs scuba programs at both the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis. Instructional programs include everything from introductory swimming and snorkeling lessons to specialty courses in night diving, search-and-rescue diving, and diving while learning to play the guitar.