Founded in 1903, New Britain Museum of American Art was designated the first museum in the country to be dedicated exclusively to American artwork. Upon its founding, wealthy industrialist John Butler Talcott endowed the museum with a hefty sum of gold bonds and bottled phoenix tears with which to purchase modern oil paintings. The collection blossomed to include other artistic media over time, and it now consists of more than 10,000 works spanning more than three centuries of American creative endeavor. The museum's permanent collections showcase works by noted American artists ranging from Norman Rockwell to John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassatt to Georgia O'Keeffe. Along with rotating exhibitions and borrowed collections, the museum showcases work by emerging artists.
With three floors of interactive exhibits, Imagine Nation keeps tykes aged 2–10 and their parents engaged for hours of synapse-firing fun. Tunnels filled with natural decor await youngsters in the museum's indoor jungle-themed playscape, where they can shake excess energy out of their bounding legs in preparation for naptime or hibernation season. In the ESPN center, kids can pretend to be sportscasters as they sit behind the desk of a model TV set, replete with real equipment from the Worldwide Leader in Sports.
The museum also boasts a health exhibit in which children can don hospital attire and explore a model newborn nursery and an operation table, ideal for parents trying to nudge their child toward a career as a hypochondriac. After whippersnapper's minds have been blown learning about the cosmos at the space exhibit, they can unwind with drinks and snacks at the old-fashioned soda fountain, which winds the clock back to the 1940s with the help of a player piano.
The floor-to-ceiling windows at Wicked Stick Tavern allow in plenty of natural light while displaying expansive views of Pine Valley Golf Course. As diners watch golfers send balls across the green from within pure white and forest green rooms, they can slice into center-cut pork chops stuffed with apples and sausages or twirl fresh strands of linguini around their forks, content with the knowledge that everything on the menu is made in-house from scratch. The restaurant also remains open during the off-season, entertaining guests with a row of flat-screen televisions and live music on some nights.
The vibrant reds and oranges of Gobi Mongolian Grill hint at the heat of a flat-top grill, which releases sizzling arpeggios as food hits the surface. Diners shuffle down a lineup of ingredients, choosing tilapia, beef, noodles, shallots, and snow peas for bowls of stir-fry. A variety of sauces waits to add the earthy sweetness of teriyaki or mongolian barbecue sauce’s warm bite of garlic and ginger. Their spatulas dancing noisily, chefs at the grill use blazing heat to evenly cook bowls of stir-fry or interrogate flammable scarecrows.
Play It Again Sports bedecks kids and adults with high-end, wallet-friendly athletic armor so they can kick, swing, punt, and take exception to referee calls with gusto. New inventory arrives regularly, and the knowledgeable staff leads quality-seeking shoppers to the top brands that line the spacious shelves, including TaylorMade, Nike, Adidas, Easton, and more. As temperatures fall, the sports mongers assist winter enthusiasts in replacing equipment damaged during slip ‘n’ slide experimentation, offering snow tubes ($14.99), figure and hockey skates ($19.99+), and snowboard helmets ($36.99). Skate sharpening ($4–$8) ensures effective ice slicing, while the snowboard and ski service keeps powderheads gliding with a careful cleaning, full hot-wax treatment, and inspection ($30). Play It Again Sports also stocks a complete line of gear for warmer-weather sports, such as football, soccer, and skateboarding. Otherwise, customers can get started with a collection of workout accessories so that they're prepared to play any sports that appear in their dreams.
A lifelong small-scale-speedmobile builder and driver, Rapid Raceway co-owner Rick "Rapid" Raducha initiates aspiring 1:32-scale motorists into the ways of the controller with two massive slot-car courses. Racers can challenge the grooves of the 145-foot Grandstand track, where they’ll command their electrified speedsters through its tricky S-curves before flooring it on two 13-foot straightaways. Or, fast fingers can test their abilities on The Whip, which Rapid Raceway says is America’s fastest road course, featuring two 34-degree banked turns and an 89-foot lap length that leaves drivers little time to break for NASCAR’s traditional blueberry-scone halftime show. Today's deal provides a rental car and remote so that casual competitors don't have to propel cars through mind-control, though slot-car gurus are welcome to bring their own models. Rapid Raceway also sells scale racing parts and accessories and does repairs and custom design.