How about making a New Year’s resolution to try something new? Maybe you can overcome a fear, cross something off your bucket list, or just do something different with family or friends. Here are some ideas to get started. Who knows? You might do them more than once.

Solve Riddles to Escape

Solve mysteries like Scooby-Doo’s gang when you get locked in a room with a small group of people and search for clues to escape within 60 minutes. Two local venues offer a variety of themes, such as a stricken submarine, a devastating Internet virus, alien abduction and a murder aboard a train. This is a team sport of two to seven players, and guests can make reservations (required) with a full group or be paired with others (make new friends!). These games are recommended for ages 15 and up as guests must solve riddles and look for clues. Huntsville Escape Rooms, in downtown Huntsville at 604-C Madison St. SE, is open Tuesday through Sunday. Cost is $25 per person. Learn more and book a room at Huntsville Escape Rooms.Escapology Escape Rooms at Stars and Strikes, 930 Old Monrovia Road NW, is open daily, with games going on even after midnight. Cost is $28.99 per person (2-6 people per room).

Learn to Sail

Learn to be Popeye’s sidekick as you navigate a small vessel on beautiful Lake Guntersville. Browns Creek Sailing Association offers classes in the spring, taught by a U.S. Sailing Small Boat Instructor and BCSA sailors experienced in racing and cruising. Over two weekends (four days) students will earn their sailing certification as they learn the ropes aboard the club’s Sunfish sailboats and get classroom instruction. Students must bring an approved life jacket. The course is around $180. The association is based at Browns Creek Sailing Marina, 128 Browns Creek Road, Guntersville. 

Meet Exotic Animals

Hang out with some of Simba’s friends at Harmony Park Safari, a drive-through animal preserve at 431 Clouds Cove Road SE, Huntsville. Steer slowly through the 2-mile loop and stop often as free-ranging beasts and birds come right up to vehicles in search of treats you purchase before going through. You can drive the loop as many times as you wish. Among the residents are zebras, ostrich, water buffalo, a camel, kangaroo and tortoises. See snakes and alligators in the reptile house and pet some smaller animals in an enclosed area. Cost is $8 per vehicle and there are regulations for vehicles: windows and roofs required; no campers, RVs, monster trucks or protruding tires; pick-up beds must be empty; no pets. Open daily March through November, 10 a.m. until sunset. Look up the park on Facebook or call (256) 723-3880.

Soar Through the Trees

Soar like Soren the owl when you take on the Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventure at Lake Guntersville, a zip line and bridge excursion high amidst the vegetation along the lake. The Level 1 tour comprises 10 zip lines and four bridges. It takes about two hours and welcomes ages 8 and up, with a minimum weight of 50 pounds, for $59. Extend the day by adding the Level 2 tour, for ages 10 and up weighing at least 90 pounds. This tour offers 7 more zip lines that are longer and higher than the first batch, as well as more bridges. The two levels together are $99. Make reservations in advance and report to the lodge at Guntersville State Park, 1155 Lodge Drive, Guntersville. 

Look to the Stars

You won’t see “Star Wars,” but you will see celestial objects any Saturday night at the Wernher von Braun Planetarium atop Monte Sano Mountain. Members of the Von Braun Astronomical society as well as guest speakers present a different topic nearly every week at 7:30 p.m. in the historic building, which was built by employees at Redstone Arsenal and members of the community under the direction of von Braun. After the planetarium program, if skies are clear, guests can peer through the society’s telescope and see what is prominent in the sky that evening. (Saturn looks just like its photo in science books!) Topics for 2017 included the solar eclipse, Jules Verne, Jupiter, the Zodiac, Chinese astronomy and “So You Got a Telescope for Christmas.” Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for students, free for children under 6. The planetarium is in Monte Sano State Park at 5105 Nolen Ave. S.E. 

By: Deborah Bennick

Deborah Bennick is a freelance writer and editor in Huntsville whose journalism career spans 25 years in four states. She enjoys cooking, reading, volunteering, outdoor activities, watching her kids play sports and being involved with education.

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