Today’s Groupon offers an upgrade from your biography audio books. For $25, you’ll hear legendary lyricist Stephen Sondheim’s candid confessions at The Long Center on Thursday, November 12; the Austin Chronicle’s Robert Faires will prompt the esteemed composer to reflect on his career, collaborations, and creative process during the 8 p.m. event.
Navigate the skill-taxing 18-hole course while steering clear of numerous rocks, water hazards, and sand traps, which golf balls covet for their naturally exfoliating properties. Before or after hitting the mini-links, guests also can head to the bank of 11 batting cages that collectively feature six baseball pitching machines, four slow-pitch softball machines, and one fast-pitch softball machine. The fully automatic system tosses baseballs at speeds from 40 to 85 mph, giving even seasoned baseballers cause for perspiration.
Toward the back of Great Skates Fun Center, techno blares and thick clouds of fog waft through a 3,500-square-foot laser-tag arena. Black lights and a glowing maze pierce the miasma, as do lasers racing toward the vests of competing players. Like those speedy lasers, pucks zoom across air-hockey tables in the 2,000-square-foot game room, which includes billiards, skee-ball, and motorcycle-racing video games. Once they accumulate enough tickets, players can visit the game area's toy store to exchange stubs for prizes or a plot of land on the frontier.
In addition to laser tag and arcade games, the fun center houses an 80-by-130-foot wooden surface across which skaters can coast to the rhythm of upbeat tunes. To recharge after skating sessions, they can swing by a snack bar replete with pizza, nachos, cotton candy, and soft drinks.
Sharon Owens lowers the bulb of an ornament into the sharp blue flame of her workstation’s torch, heating the glass until it glows a vibrant yellow. Applying the skills she learned in her schooling at Purdue University, her three-year apprenticeship, and her studies with a host of artisan glassworkers, she presses her mouth to the piece’s hollow stem. Whatever shape it will take, only she knows.
This scene has been a regular occurrence at Inspired Fire since 2002, when Sharon founded her studio in her hometown of Lafayette. The workshop is equipped for all manners of projects, including 4 kilns, 12 torches, and, most importantly, air conditioning. The shop’s staff oversees classes for beginners and advanced glassworkers, as well as offering the space for crafters unable to find the “glass” setting on their microwaves.
There's something in the air in downtown Lafayette. Not the aromatic pheromones of trees trying to send mankind a message, but rather, the energy generated by scores of revelers. This is Dancing in the Streets, a festival that fills roadways with three separate stages boasting country, indie-rock, blues, and swing performances. As the night stretches on, youngsters can take to the kids' corner to partake of rides, moonwalks, and activities. Guests of all ages snack on portable eats while enjoying dancing and DJ-spun tunes, and a 45-minute cruise parade shows off classic cars and freshly polished roller skates.
Within Buccaneer Bay Water Park Center’s sprawling 9,000 square feet of space, the delighted shrieks of frolicking children ricochet off the cavernous ceilings. Surrounded by ranks of slowly nodding palm trees, kids scramble up the sides of a replica pirate ship before whooshing down the slick red slides, landing feet-first in the clean water, or else skimming the surface like a smooth rock or a pelican thrown overhand. The churning warmth of a hot tub turns tension into soothed sighs, which drift toward an arcade full of flashing redemption machines. Gaggles of youngsters celebrating birthdays cannonball into the pool, fueled by slices of cake.