When autumn arrives, Rolling Acres opens its gates to visitors young and old to enjoy adventures among its various attractions. Birthday parties, field trips, and family outings descend upon the farm throughout the fall to explore the corn maze, which, in the past, has sent groups zigzagging through labyrinths shaped like an elephant, a lion, and a castle. Outside the maize maze, putters earn holes in one or 12 on the mini-golf course, and nearby, jumpers launch skyward on a giant jumping pillow. Aside from manufacturing smiles, Rolling Acres also produces and distributes alternative-fuel products.
The two screens of Tower Theaters host an eclectic cast of characters, from the flying superheroes of summer blockbusters to elaborately costumed opera singers. And 3-D technology propels many of them toward the audience with the vivid clarity of digital projection. The dancers and singers appear as part of a monthly opera and ballet series, which showcases stage productions such as Caravaggio or Die Fledermaus in digital HD. But on the first Saturday of every month, film and live performance combine with midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, during which a shadow cast poses in front of the screen to mirror the cult classic's plot and catch Tim Curry when he falls out.
Xtreme Paintball's speckled warzone stretches across five playing fields, where marker-toting combatants engage in colorful crossfire during a variety of paintballing matches. A natural canopy blocks the sun from the eyes of snipers throughout the battle zone, and manmade obstacles, such as ditches and sandbag bunkers, conceal sharpshooters and bottles of Wite-Out for healing wounds. A Wild West–themed village situated at the center of Xtreme Paintball's paint-strewn landscape inspires players to reenact their favorite cowboy movies, and a netted viewing area allows parents and friends to peek in on the action at a safe distance.
Since 1962, the experienced and USPA-certified instructors at Connecticut Parachutists, Inc have helped new and experienced skydivers foster a love for skydiving. Two miles above the plush green landing area, the professionals harness themselves to novice divers for tandem jumps, and then leap from the bellies of prop planes as spectators and envious penguins look on from an open landing area. The instructors can also help their students obtain skydiving certification, learn to perform accelerated free falls, and make solo dives.
In addition to training new cloud kickers, Connecticut Parachutists, Inc also accommodates seasoned skydivers with facilities for members. Their turbine Twin Otter elevates members for as many jumps as possible, and a clubhouse helps jumpers wind down with a shower and video debriefing area. The skydiving haven also plays host to special events such as jump nights and Q&As with famous parachutes.
Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness first opened its 35,000-square-foot fitness centers in 1979, and the specialists have since maintained a commitment to helping their members lead healthier lifestyles. They work in partnership with hospitals and medical professionals to stay keen on current research, turning this information into personal-training programs and professional advice for members of all fitness levels. In addition to programs in fitness and recreation, health education, and nutrition, Healthtrax Fitness & Wellness offers more than 60 group fitness classes. Members can shake up their routines with group cycling, yoga, and Pilates sessions, or tune out the surrounding world while burning calories on TV-equipped cardio machines. Member amenities also include basketball courts and an aquatics center in addition to outlets for kids including a youth activities center and babysitting services for kids that are tired of pretending to be their mom's fanny pack as she works out.
Visiting The Zoo in Forest Park and Education Center is a lot like stepping into a nature documentary. On guided tours, a knowledgeable narrator takes small groups on a journey to meet more than 200 creatures from across the world. They stop by the habitats of the black and white ruffed lemur, the western bobcat, and the spotted leopard. Along the way, guests learn a lot: for instance, that the Bennett's wallaby carries its young in a pouch, and that the critically-endangered cotton-top tamarin has lost more than 75% of its native habitat.
But in at least one way, the zoo accomplishes something that David Attenborough never could. Visitors can actually reach out and touch a creature during discovery programs. They can even adopt certain animals, perhaps helping provide tasty grasses and career guidance to a red kangaroo.
These programs exemplify the nonprofit zoo's dedication to wildlife education and awareness, something they hope to instill in their visitors from an early age. In the summer, educators spin "Animal Tales" for rapt young audiences and hold a Zoo Camp, where kids start to learn about diet and animal care. As kids' love of animals grows, the zoo invites them to volunteer as Crew in Training members. Once they hit college, students can become interns working on projects such as field studies of the patas monkey.
At Gold's Gym, a nationwide fitness franchise in business more than 45 years, novice and veteran athletes alike torch calories and tone cores in group exercise classes, with free weights, and on cardio machines. Classes are scheduled seven days a week at both of the West Springfield and Chicopee locations, where booties shrink to Latin-inspired jams with Zumba and muscles stave off boredom in high-intensity interval training sessions. Other classes include PiYo, which crunches cores through a fusion of yoga and Pilates, and RPM, an indoor cycling workout during which pedalers climb simulated peaks and giant bean stalks as energy-boosting music reverberates through frames. Before embarking upon fitness journeys, new members can participate in a series of free training and nutrition appointments. Both locations boast childcare services, full-service juice bars, tanning booths, and nametags for those who become unrecognizable in their newly sculpted bodies.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.