A champagne toast signifies luxury, but Air Ventures provides an even more luxurious amenity—champagne toasts conducted while floating in midair. Customers sip from bottles of bubbly while on one of the company’s hot-air-balloon rides, which float over Chester County’s rolling hills, glistening lakes, and historic estates at either sunrise or sunset. The rainbow-hued balloon’s trips range from one-hour jaunts to flight packages with overnight inn stops. After their airborne adventures, passengers take home a souvenir picture of the balloon, which they can supplement with downloaded shots of their own tour.
Though they operate more than 200 locations in upwards of 30 states, the team behind U.S. Baseball Academy aims to make each young athlete's experience a personal one. Their four- or six-week camps are taught by local instructors who are current or former coaches at the high school or college level, and typically offer a 6:1 or better player-to-teacher ratio for intense, professional-style training. The Academy's proven itinerary of hitting, pitching, fielding, and baserunning drills was developed by an advisory board of college coaches and Major League players, including Cy Young Award–winner and ace pitcher Brandon Webb.
At Markie's Mini-Golf, flowing brooks meander through rocky outcroppings and pristine greens that span 26,000 square feet across 18 holes. The course's nature-inspired layout snakes through caves and around a central waterfall, which flows into a fountain that summons thirsty golf balls. Groups putt around the pintsized course before lapping up sweet, hand-dipped scoops of Nelson's ice cream in an air-conditioned snack area. The frosty treats can be consumed around indoor tables or outside at picnic tables.
Atlantic Edge Dive Center's dive-masters might technically be classified as land mammals, but they spend enough time under water to earn the honorary title of amphibian. They spend days and nights teaching and leading dives, whether they're arming curious beginners with basic skills in one of their on-site swimming pools, or conducting open water certification tests off the coast. They go beyond simply certifying students for adventure: they provide rescue diving, dive master, and instructor training as well.
Their passion for the aquatic pastime draws them to all kinds of watery outposts. They lead excursions to the Florida keys to help rehabilitate the coral reefs surrounding the islands, and dive into the relatively calm waters of the tanks in the Baltimore National Aquarium, where they have a chance to see 53 species of fish feed in the secret underwater cafeteria.
Across five full days of action, kids young and semi-young will undergo a comprehensive camp curriculum chock-full of running, throwing, catching, blocking, teamworking, confidence building, high-fiving, and more. If desired, campers ages 11–14 with at least one year of tackle football experience may enroll in the accelerated-skills sections, which feature advanced lessons in the same non-contact environment. All campers are led by professional educators from the high-school and collegiate level, and each day's knowledge bowl soars even higher with visits from Eagles greats, ranging from Fred Barnett to the great Pete Retzlaff (Philadelphia Eagles players vary by camp location). By teaming up with experienced players and coaches, kids will be treated to comprehensive instruction that goes beyond purely mechanical skills.
In 1989, Jim Kirkpatrick received a winemaking kit from his wife, Carole. At the time, neither Jim nor Carole knew it, but that kit churned out more than just wine—it also produced a dream. When Jim's homemade concoctions were a hit, the couple decided to try their hand at growing their own grapes, and soon moved to a home in Wrightsville surrounded by 3 acres of land.
Just 100 yards from Kreutz Creek, the Kirkpatrick's new location presented the ideal location to expand on Jim's newfound dream. Today, Kreutz Creek Vineyards generates an assortment of red, white, and seasonal varietals. Jim and Carole also use their tranquil grounds to host community events throughout the year, including bonfires and movie nights.
Though Longwood Gardens owes its current incarnation to the tireless efforts of industrialist, philanthropist, and conservationist Pierre du Pont, the property’s history stretches back to precolonial days. The Peirce family purchased the land from William Penn himself in 1700, and by the end of the century the Quakers had already begun developing an arboretum on the premises. In the century that followed, the homestead was purchased by an ambitious 36-year-old du Pont in 1906. Throughout the next 30 years, du Pont built a legacy rife with extravagant European-style fountains, a picturesque 600-foot garden walk, and 40 indoor and outdoor gardens. Today, visitors experience a bit of du Pont’s passion for the tropical flora of the Americas during jaunts through the property’s 1,077 colorful acres, where they run into everything from flowering trees and delicate hybrids to carnivorous pitcher plants. In addition to cultivating lush flora, the garden’s stewards also encourage growing minds with an ever-changing roster of events, such as internationally acclaimed musical acts and immersive educational experiences.