An endless amount of stories flicker across the screen at these cinemas, which offer stadium seating and digital sound. The theater plays films chosen from Hollywood’s newest releases, featuring stars just plucked from the vines where they grow in the California hills. Between whispered critiques of each preview, audience members can wash down fluffy kernels of popcorn with soda from the concession stand. The theater also opens its doors for birthday parties and large private screenings for up to 300 guests.
For Armando Maestre and his family, vacations always meant a trip to play laser tag. In their hometown, however, options were scarce, so in 2005, Armando designed his own arena. Pulling together all his favorite aspects of other battlefields, he converted a warehouse into a 3,300-square-foot maze of fog, obstacles, and hideouts. Now, the pounding beat of techno rattles ribcages as blacklights blink to the bassline in Fusion Zone's arena. In the darkness, the walls seem to disappear, except for day-glo paint tracing graffiti-like images. Up to three teams fire green beams of light, with each hit rumbling in the target's vest. Players avoid detection by ducking behind barrels or learning the native language of barrels, and 10 variations on basic play invigorate competition. Zone Ball sessions borrow some rules from basketball, and in Vampire games, players attempt to fire at the designated bloodsucker before being turned themselves. Through games such as these, Armando says, laser tag teaches the concept of teamwork. Ready to rest weary trigger fingers, warriors wander towards the digital babble of video games with 42-inch screens and thundering soundtracks. H2Overdrive and Terminator Salvation elicit happy squeals, and racing simulators prepare drivers to deal with sharp corners and motorcycle gangs that refuse to wear their glasses. A photo collage surrounds the Road Trip prize machine, commemorating winners of standout prizes that have included an Xbox Kinect.
Having set up camp at The Mount Brace Outdoor Club and Flight Park, Let’s Go Paragliding sends its students skyward under the guidance of owner Benoit Bruneau. A certified instructor, Benoit was named the 2010 paragliding instructor of the year by the United States Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. At his facility, Benoit oversees introductory paragliding lessons, and for more advanced students, tandem flights, personal training, and training programs. Let’s Go Paragliding also stocks high-quality paragliding equipment and gear.
Internal Network Group’s Fly Fishing Adventures introduces anglers to the Farmington River. On half- and full-day fly-fishing trips, guides and their charges wade through its tree-lined waters, casting for trout, which run rampant in the river. The guides boast intimate knowledge of the fish’s favorite gathering spots and help their fishing adventurers capture them with ease. Fly Fishing Adventures also serves the community at large by donating a portion of its profits to the Disabled American Veterans organization.
A three-day lineup stocked with jazz legends and emerging talents blasts through more time signatures than a clock’s checkbook to usher in the 16th incarnation of the Litchfield Jazz Festival. The Springs Center stage kicks off Friday with genre luminaries The Clayton Brothers, whose silky sounds light a fire under the crowd that fellow Grammy nominees Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue stoke with brassy flares. Saturday hosts a veritable who’s-who of mind-blowing musicians with NEA Jazz Master grant winner Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band blasting buttery sounds after a Ray Charles tribute featuring Davell Crawford belts harmonies more memorable than “Happy Birthday” sung in Klingon. A collection of performers worthy of a Gatsbyan soiree closes out the festival on Sunday, with a hip-swinging finale from Jimmy Heath.
Manny Miranda learned the art of winemaking from his father and grandfather, who hand-pressed their grapes in the courtyard of his childhood home in Portugal. Fifty years later, with the help of his wife Maria, Manny finally opened his own winery, Miranda Vineyard, and began fermenting delicately balanced vintages. In the past few years, wine-competition judges have taken notice: Miranda’s seyval blanc earned a 2010 Gran Harvester Award silver medal for its fruity taste, as light and crisp as a helium-filled apple. In addition, the Vinho Fino collected a 2010 Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition gold medal. The sprawling grounds of the winery play host to soft picnic blankets topped with lunching visitors, live concerts, Shakespearean performances, and tour groups of parched raisins.