As the St. Johns River winds through the Everglades of central Florida, it flows past forests of old-growth cypress trees. Bald eagles perch on branches draped in spanish moss, and below, blue herons and alligators prowl the edges of floating grass beds. Holding US Coast Guard Master Captain licenses, the guides of Airboat Rides at MIDWAY take passengers into this swampy wilderness aboard custom airboats. Launching from their own marina, the guides educate guests on the river's ecology and history via two-way headsets and stern, unwavering eye contact. These tours have earned multiple certificates of excellence from TripAdvisor, plus respectful nods from the river's turtles. In addition to airboat tours, the guides take guests out on seasonal gator hunts.
At Masters of All Terrain events, participants may vie for the title for top finisher on a wide variety of surfaces as they complete races such as fierce 5Ks or half marathons. Racers can also compete in each race?s fitness challenge where they complete exercises such as flipping tires, tossing a keg, or shredding paperwork for collateralized debt obligations. Photographers stick around to snap high-res action shots along the way, all of which are available free afterward through the event?s Facebook page.
Eight potters' wheels whirl next to shelves stacked with bisque pieces, worktables spotted with glaze, and walls hung with abstract art. The eclecticism of the space is one of owner and artist Tracy Wilmes's favorite things about his pottery studio, Cup O' Pottery—that, and the opportunity to inspire his students by leaping on a chair in his typical ebullient, and sometimes downright zany, teaching style. As a former high school art teacher, he loves educating students of any age, leading both family-oriented studio classes and open pottery paint and design sessions. The studio also includes a small retail area, where Tracy sells his own pottery and hands out mock detentions to disobedient clay.:
Players exchange infrared beams from a roster of replica guns, each designed to emulate real military weaponry in size, weight, and operation. Each gun blasts targets in limited rounds using eye-safe infrared light, a technology adapted from military combat simulations. Players test their marksmanship in 75 realistic laser-tag missions, some of which require them to practice espionage, defuse bombs, protect and rescue hostages, or chase squirrels out of their front yards. When not exchanging beams of light, players can enjoy a snack or drink at the cafe.
At Kinder Kicks, parents and children exercise, learn, and bond during get-togethers that fuse age-appropriate activities with applicable life lessons, from sharing to traffic safety and self-control. Three different age groups—Remarkable Me, Jumping Joey, and Leadership Lion—divvy up the action for newborns through 4-year-olds, with each tier focusing on skills and principles that are easily digestible for its participants.
Remarkable Me sessions, for instance, offer tactile, auditory, and visual stimulation for toddlers while their parents engage in cardio- and strength-training workouts. As kids advance, so does the curriculum: by the time they reach Leadership Lion status, youngsters are practicing basic martial arts to develop a positive attitude toward physical fitness and learn how to kick through their bedroom's forcefield when they're grounded. Little ones are ushered through this progression by friendly instructors, along with The Remarkables—a team of animal characters that makes visits all the more enjoyable.
At Equestrian Quest Stables, riders of all experience levels deepen their equine appreciation by trotting and cantering amid facilities featuring two 80?x150? lighted riding arenas and a vast network of wooded trails. Lessons cover every aspect of horsemanship, from grooming and tacking to handling and riding?an all-encompassing approach that lets riders develop self-confidence and communicate better with the horse than by simply buying an English?Whinny dictionary. For the riding portion, students hop atop one of the farm's 17 lesson horses to explore disciplines such as hunt seat, English and Western pleasure, or dressage. Younger equestrians can spend even more time learning during one of Equestrian Quest?s camps, where students pair up with their own horse and learn from a pair of teachers with more than 50 years of combined experience.