During Milwaukee Winter Fest, visitors of all ages can shake the snow from their sleeves inside a climate-controlled facility filled with festive lights and colorful decorations. There they can play in more than 50 attractions including inflated fun zones, carnival rides, and a 240-foot indoor zipline. Singers and musical acts take to the stage during scheduled events to inspire impromptu dance parties and prove once and for all that guitars can be used for more than just housing herb gardens.
A tractor rumbles along the rolling hills of Green Meadows Petting Farm's back 40 as it pulls hayride passengers toward the farm’s animals' barns and pens. There, hands of all ages can snuggle on the fuzzy fleece of a baby goat or sheep, brush against the bristly hide of the 700-pound Patty the Pig, or comb fingers into the soft mane of Lad the Pony. Farmers on the staff also share insights and anecdotes on the farm and its four-legged friends as guests roam the farm at their leisure. For Charlie and Mavis Keyes, of all the sights and sounds on a farm that's been in the family since 1964, the ones they enjoy most watching and hearing are from the children and parents who come to visit. It's a thrill, Charlie says, to hear the kids say that they had "the best day ever," providing a happy counterpoint to childhood days that include trips to the doctor's and punishments to file and catalogue a sister's dolls' dresses.
At Xtreme Wheels Roller Skating & Family Fun Center's 30,000 sq. ft. facility, the rental center stocks skates as tiny as a toddler size 7. Here, skaters of all ages are welcome to take a turn on the rink. This is no big surprise, given the history of the father-daughter team who runs the rink. Dean Hohl has more than three decades of rink management under his belt, while his daughter Kimi started toddling on wheels as soon as she could walk.
They welcome families to make skating a part of their history on the rink's 17,000 sq. foot wooden floor during a variety of often themed open-skate sessions. They often host birthday parties in a fun family atmosphere in one of their five party rooms. During Kids Celebration Skate, parents get even the smallest members of the brood in on the fun by pushing their strollers around the rink, and packs can dress up for the Halloween costume contest or skate off excess caloric intakes at the Skate Your Turkey Off Thanksgiving event. To refuel after a day on the rink, skaters break at the concession stand to snack on pizza, pretzels, and hot dogs.
As the Wildcats close out the season with visions of a bowl game dancing in their helmets, they’ll have to face the Wisconsin Badgers with claws drawn in the final game of the season. Witness the drama of this division showdown with today’s Groupon: $20 end-zone tickets (sections 116-121) to see Northwestern take on Wisconsin at Ryan Field on November 21 at 2:30 p.m. This is a huge game for Wildcat fans, Badger fans, and all-around collegiate football fanatics, so grab your ticket to the game and wave at all your friends back home as they jealously watch on the Big Ten Network’s live broadcast. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
The tough-as-nails ladies in the Mad Rollin' Dolls roller-derby league wow audiences with equal parts strength, speed, and glitter. Since their first season in 2005, skaters and MRD volunteers alike have donated their blood, sweat, and tears to the sport that promotes female athleticism and team spirit in a fun, competitive atmosphere. During the 30-minute bouts, fans cheer and sneer as the jammers attempt to lap the opposing team for points, and the blockers clear the way for their mates while putting the hurt on those who try to stop them. The season's schedule culminates in a championship match, in which the two mightiest teams battle for the title and a lifetime supply of solid-gold mouth guards.
Since the team is committed to supporting their community, a portion of the proceeds from each Mad Rollin' Dolls bout goes to various charities, which in the past have included Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, Alliance for Animals, and Badger Childhood Cancer Network.
One of 12 indoor 400-meter ovals in the world and the only sea-level oval in the United States accessible to athletes, the nonprofit Pettit National Ice Center has become an essential destination for speed skaters training for the 2014 Olympic Games. Practicing skaters join the ranks of Apolo Anton Ohno, Chad Hedrick, and Shani Davis, all of whom have competed or trained at Pettit, participated in the last five Winter Olympics, and beaten an avalanche into submission. With its 155,000-square-foot arena and 97,000 square feet of ice, the Olympic training site has hosted the 2005 U.S. National Short Track Championship and eight international speed-skating competitions.
In addition to Olympic-caliber sportspersons, Pettit accommodates nearly 400,000 annual visitors for public-skating sessions and lessons in skating, figure skating, and speed skating. Skating clubs, hockey leagues, curling, and wheelchair- and special-needs-skating classes commence on two 100'x200' rinks. Meanwhile, spectators and Olympic torches on their day off can sidestep the ice by contemplating infinity while resting in a lounge overlooking the arena, or jogging around the 443-meter track circling the ice oval.