One of the East Coast's best-known members-only wholesale retailers, BJ's Wholesale Club serves more than six million members in 201 clubs as far west as Ohio. Within these sprawling locations, savvy shoppers knock out most of their errands in a single stop. In the same visit, members can stock up on economy-sized groceries–including USDA choice meats, farm-fresh produce, and everyday essentials–grab name-brand electronics, get their vision checked at BJ's Optical, and even plan a vacation through BJ's Travel. Each service makes up a single part of the club's well-rounded retail experience, but simplifying shopping isn't BJ's Wholesale Club's only goal; in 2012 alone, the company donated more than $3.2 million to charitable organizations.
Everything old is new again at Looks Better On You, but that doesn’t mean that the boutique’s staff hangs just anything on the racks. The team scours blogs, broadsheets from abroad, and fashion columns to stay on top of the street styles that will become tomorrow’s couture. And though they fill the store with recognizable brands such as Coach, Gucci, and Ralph Lauren, the fashionistas always keep an open mind. If an unknown designer has an on-trend or pre-trend piece, they gladly snatch it up. To help guests make the most of the sartorial selection, in-house fashion consultants carry out color analyses, matching clothes to skin tone, hair color, and current mood-ring shade.
Though most who try something new only get their feet wet, a Discover Scuba class will have you totally immersed in one of Just Add Water's heated training pools. Practicing in the shallow waters of a pool allows students to get comfortable in the equipment without the added pressure of incomprehensible depths and run-ins with nervous spotted ratfish. During training, you'll spend a few minutes discussing the basics of scuba with an instructor before hitting the pool. Once in the water, students will get a lesson in submerged skills before being let loose to explore the underwater depths for abandoned pennies and bloated hamburgers. Students can exercise their moistened mobility with a game of underwater Frisbee or capture a few submerged snapshots for an impressive online profile picture that would make any pompous jellyfish jealous.
Brilliant pianist and songwriter Jim Brickman has earned six gold- and platinum-selling albums, charted 28 adult radio hits, and lassoed two Grammy nominations. Joining him in a night of exceptional music, topped off with a fireworks spectacular (10 p.m.), are Michael Cavanaugh (star of Broadway hit, Movin' Out), Collin Raye, Anne Cochran, Ty Herndon, Jeff Timmons (of 98 Degrees), emcee of the night Robin Meade, and many other great artists. Tickets are valid for stadium seating (not field) in Classic Park's baseball stadium.
Walking into a HobbyTown USA is like simultaneously immersing yourself in a science fair, toy store, and art-supply shop. With many crafty options ranging from 1/25 scale 1969 Camaro model kits ($19.95) to easy-to-care-for ant farms ($17.99), the store has something for any age or interest. Spice up familial gatherings and barbeques with strangers with outdoor activities, such as flying Turbo Jet 2000 gliders ($4.99) or kites shaped like 3-D space shuttles ($19.87), which, unlike real space shuttles, serve decent in-flight meals. For rainy days, pick up a 10-piece carving-knife set ($4.95) and an eight-color all-purpose paint set ($12.15) to repurpose any banister as a totem pole of achievement.
When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.