The Strike Zone II gives parents a positive place to bring their whole brood for athletic, academic, or musical enrichment under one polymathic roof. While one child raises a joyful tune during music lessons, another can enlist a tutor for help with memorizing multiplication tables or searching the Gettysburg Address for hidden emoticons. For the athletically inclined, Mark Stevens—formerly a coach at the Division I, II, and III collegiate levels—heads up a staff of baseball and softball instructors who help cadets hone hitting, pitching, and fielding prowess during four-packs of lessons. The onsite batting cage lets hitters practice churning out frozen ropes within a safely confined space, and the practice pitching mound offers young hurlers a place to practice building moats for protection against charging batters.
Glowing waves lap at the walls of Pirate Mini Golf, an 18-hole indoor course brought to life by black lights. A lighthouse beckons golfers to holes in one, while windmills distract golfers from making perfect putts and noticing the tiny people living inside them. But mini golf isn’t the only source of fun—racing video games and pirate-themed pinball entertain in the arcade, and guests spar vocally at Karaoke Cove. Wii games and movies are often emblazoned across a huge projector screen, which keep kids engaged while parents enjoy free WiFi at nearby tables.
Mount Southington Ski Area sprung from a dream. In the 1960s, its rolling mountainside contained not ski trails, but dairy cows, most of whom couldn't even snowboard. But then new owners bought the dairy farm with the hopes of creating their own slopes. In 1964, the park officially opened, launching 50 years of athletic achievements and family memories.
Today, an old red barn?converted into a ski shop and caf??echoes the mountain's past. Outside, the park's 51 acres are covered with snow, thanks to the combined efforts of Mother Nature and artificial snowmakers. Four chair lifts, a handle tow, and two carpet lifts ferry visitors up this mountainside, where they can soar down 14 different trails during the day or under the night's twinkling stars. The snowy routes come in three levels of difficulty, and young skiers can learn the basics at The Glacier training area. Snowboarders can face the rails, boxes, and other exciting elements sprawl across two terrain parks. PSIA-certified instructors are on standby for advanced lessons, and athletes of all ages can rent equipment from the rental department. Mount Southington Ski Area is located off I-84 exit 30.
A performance-dance school established in 2006, Velocity Dance Works educates students ranging from toddler through adult on the style of more than 20 different dances. The school's seasoned instructors maintain an energized, encouragement-packed environment that caters to both serious students looking to develop their technique as well as casual students in search of a new hobby that exercises both the body and the mind.
Shebeen is the Irish Gaelic word for illegal brewhouse, or speakeasy. But for Irish-born head brewer Rich, Shebeen Brewing is the formalization of 25 years of homebrewing. That's 25 years experimenting with unique flavors and ingredients; so in addition to classic styles such as irish pale ales and rye porters, Shebeen offers a rotating roster of specialty beers.
The brewery's most famous is the cannoli beer, made with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and served with a dusting of powdered sugar and shaved chocolate. Like the cannoli beer, many of Rich's creations focus on sweeter or spicier ingredients as opposed to aggressive use of hops. This results in concoctions such as the bacon Kona stout, or the wine-like saison made with concord-grape extracts. But Rich doesn't shy away from bolder flavors?one slightly green-hued brew pairs the cooling flavor of cucumbers with hot wasabi. Customers can sample the range of creative beers during tastings or tours, or carry home growlers for a more fun, rewarding alternative to lifting weights.
Farmingbury Hills comes about as close to a full 18-hole layout as any 9-hole course can. The fourth hole?number 13 on the back side?has two separate tee boxes though they share the same green, while number 5/14 has two completely different greens. The finishing hole on either side, numbers 9 and 18, even have two different pars: it's a par 5 the second time around, a par 4 the first, and a par 3 if you can bend the laws of natural numbers. This adaptability has been a hallmark of the course since it was opened in the 1920s, when it was a private course for the managers of the Chase Brass and Copper Company. Today golfers of any stripe can spin around the 9-hole loop as many times as they like, taking care to note the former trolley line on the 5th tee and the remains of an old brick house near the 14th green.