It all started with a farmer's generosity. In 1924, a civic-minded citizen handed over 16 acres of lush farmland and a small group of critters to the Borough of Norristown. Today, the Elmwood Park Zoo and the Norristown Zoological Society welcomes guests in hopes of creating a future stock of wildlife lovers and conservation advocates. A menagerie of around 300 beasts indigenous to the Americas—including jaguars, howler monkeys, timberwolves, and bald and gold eagles—peer back at visitors. Even though they're from Africa, giraffes get in on the fun too during certain seasons, grazing on foliage and the toupees of particularly tall patrons. Guests can also spy on more than 15 species that are threatened or endangered. All the while, smaller animals mosey around at the petting barn, tots climb aboard gentle ponies, and winged beauties sail through the air at the butterfly preserve.
At The Adventure Aquarium, patrons can not only look at sharks in a tank, but be surrounded by them. At the Ocean Realm Exhibit, great hammerhead sharks, swim through a 750,000-gallon tank, their 7-foot bodies passing all around onlookers in the 40-foot shark tunnel.
Of course, Adventure Aquarium also houses a wide variety of marine animals. Their two Nile hippos each weigh in at approximately 3,000 pounds, and their mouths can open up to four feet—enough to swallow most wedding cakes in a single bite. At the aquarium's West African River Experience, visitors marvel at these hippos as they plunge into the water and swim right up to the glass. The Jules Verne Gallery, meanwhile, houses a giant pacific octopus. This cephalopod mollusk stretches out eight tentacles, each covered in some 280 suction cups.
The Elmwood Park Zoo surrounds its guests in a microcosm of North and South American habitats. American bison roam a grasslands area, bobcats prowl over the wetlands exhibit, and bald eagles soar within the confines of Olivia's Eagle Canyon. These are just three of the roughly 300 animals that call the zoo home. In addition to frolicking across exhibit spaces, many of these creatures also interact with zoo visitors at the ZooBowl outdoor amphitheater.
One gym can hardly contain Master Solomon Brenner's martial-arts expertise, which is why his school—Action Karate—has expanded to 13 different locations. Brenner believes that the martial arts are a lifelong pursuit, so he takes on students aged 3–93.
His classes for kids blend fitness with self-discipline, whereas his classes for adults focus on toning exercises and self-defense. Not all of his classes involve combat; some dedicate entire hours to pure strength training or cool-pose striking. He and his staff also host birthday parties for kids, which include fun martial-arts instruction, games, and a ceremonial slicing of birthday cake with a samurai sword.
The expert fitness instructors at Sweat Fitness's Philadelphia-area locations help students of all ages and fitness levels track down svelter silhouettes with Precor training equipment and fat-roasting classes—including yoga, Pilates, spinning, Zumba, and kickboxing. Committed to fostering a supportive community for all fit seekers, the trainers devote individual attention to each patron to help them meet their fitness goals. Clients first undergo a body-fat analysis to assess their preworkout fitness level and to help them gauge their progress throughout their journey. During group sweat sessions, patrons can tone their bodies in classes such as Group Power and Power Pump, which blast subdermal meat suits via squats, lunges, and curls. A full aquatics center welcomes guests to dive into relatively narwhal-free waters for swimming lessons, triathlon training, and pool parties.
The popular Anytime Fitness chain, which has hundreds of locations across America, stays open 24 hours per day, seven days per week, to accommodate the hours of its busy clients. The Norristown location of Anytime Fitness is spacious and modern, filled with Hammer Strength and Precor strength-training machines, free weights, and cardio equipment with TVs. To supplement the salvo of workout equipment, Anytime offers fitness classes such as Zumba and yoga. And its cheerful staff of certified personal trainers is on hand to develop wellness programs specifically to clients' individual fitness goals.
For more than 50 years, Facenda-Whitaker Lanes has trained Pennsylvanian strike and spare forces with 50 lanes of premier rolling grounds. Up to four companions will take to the bowling center’s polished alleys for two hours of uninterrupted spherical dueling, facing off with a staggering mastery of focus, ball english, and pin targeting. Facenda-Whitaker Lanes keeps its doors open 24 hours a day to entertain sleepwalkers tired of boring strolls around the living room and outfits each lane with optional bumpers for bowlers of all ages.