Terrapin Adventures never fails to live up to its name—even their swing set gets the stomach fluttering with excitement. To be fair, though, the swing in question is anything but the traditional apparatus you'd find at a city park. It seats three people and starts its trajectory 40 feet above the ground, generating 2Gs of force as it swishes riders back and forth over the landscape. The park's other attractions are equally exhilarating. On the high ropes course, visitors attached to sturdy safety harnesses cross 18 traverses situated between lofty platforms; some must be tackled via a rickety bridge, while others require leaps of faith. The 43-foot high climbing tower offers 10 routes up and down, including a head-first downward climb over the Rainbow Serpent. Otherwise, the 330-foot-long zipline sends visitors gliding through the treetops at speeds of up to 20 mph, fast enough to beat the USA track team's star squirrel.
Climb up the rigging of a pirate's ship, grapple your way up through a wall-sized game of Tetris, scale the face of Mount Rushmore—and then let gravity gently lower you to the ground. ClimbZone USA's more than 70 whimsical indoor climbs capture the imagination before the ascent even begins, but the big attraction isn't the colorful trees, blocks, and stone-faced presidents. An auto-belay system puts even the youngest climbers in charge of their own journeys upward, carefully lowering them back to earth when they've reached their level. Spirits climb nearly as high as the guests themselves, thanks to the birthday parties, snacks on hand, and endorphins generated from the healthy workout a climb provides.
The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring's 13 courses are color-coded by difficulty level, from yellow for beginners to double black diamonds for experts. They aren't ski trails, though—they're climbing challenges. More than 150 platforms adorn 5 acres of trees, which participants trek among by way of cable, wood, and rope bridges, as well as ziplines. A short safety briefing precedes all excursions, covering how to use the included gear and harnesses.
The park's main courses aren't the only place to test climbing skills. Over in the Monkey Grove, visitors can scale 10 trees fastened with the footholds and grips of a classic rock wall. Younger climbers, meanwhile, can explore The Labyrinth, a small, contained structure featuring more than 40 junior-sized versions of the park's other challenges. The courses illuminate on select Glow-in-the-Park evenings, when food, live music, and hoot-owl choruses await climbers upon their return to terra firma.
A hardcore runner might laugh at the idea of a race that's only five miles long––until they realize the course has more than 25 obstacles designed to challenge the runners' physical and mental strength. That's the Siege Race, an event designed by elite law enforcement to help athletes feel more courageous and confident in their abilities. The obstacles include everything from scaling walls and inclined monkey bars to challenges such as climbing cargo nets and carrying weighted poles. Participants aren't required to conquer each obstacle, but those wanting to give it their best try can sign up for pre-race training events where trainers help runners practice on the actual obstacles.
Already an award-winning photographer, Cindi Hobgood also spent 25 years scouting locations for Hollywood studios and TV programs. Her locations were showcased on The Amazing Race, used by Disney, HBO, and Columbia Pictures, and shot by Spike Lee and Sam Shepard. As a location scout, Hobgood recorded her finds with a camera, carefully composing each shot in order to convey each scene’s mood, landscape, and lighting.
Today, she teaches others how to hone a similarly discerning eye during instructive photo expeditions. Magic Hour walking tour send participants snapping shots of the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Potomac just as the sun comes up. Memorials by Moonlight takes walkers on a nocturnal jaunt past sites such as the Lincoln Memorial, and Intro to iPhoneography helps pupils get the most out of their iPhone cameras. There are even a few out-of-town trips for adventurous shutterbugs.
Through Things To Do, young professionals always have events to attend and someone to meet up with there—175,000 someones, in fact. A massive membership means the network is able to organize events like formal affairs, single-mingles, and outdoor adventures. Whether participants are taking in the sights of the Smithsonian, trying desserts from all over the world, or just trying to meet other people with the same number of ears as them, members have an easy way to explore new adventures with new people.