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.
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 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.
The staff members of Winter Park Health & Fitness have devoted themselves to a simple mission: creating a welcoming space for members to set and achieve fitness goals. In addition to keeping cardio machines and Nautilus strength-training equipment spick-and-span, they're always available to answer questions and help members work out more effectively. Weekday childcare enables parents to stop in for classes that include indoor cycling, three types of yoga, and Pilates. Trainers can also show members how to use the gym's TRX suspension bands to leverage their body weight for workouts during personal-training sessions, which incorporate strength training and metabolic testing that reveals how many calories clients must burn or consume to successfully body-double for Dolph Lundgren.
Artistry, technique, and creativity dominate the curriculum at The Center for Contemporary Dance. The nonprofit organization is supported by the United Arts of Central Florida and its instructors—many of whom have credentials spanning decades of professional dance—adhere to the National Standards for Dance Education. Mindful of these standards, they stage classical, contemporary and world dance classes for adults, teens, and kids. Their facility features two air-conditioned studios, each outfitted with a sound system, sprung wooden flooring, and mirrored walls so that people can flirt with themselves using their new dance moves. In addition to fostering the future of dance, The Center for Contemporary Dance celebrates movement’s current state by producing a new season of dance performances each year.
Energizing beats fuel each furious workout at F.I.R.M. Fitness Camp as groups move together to shave off pounds and shape stronger bodies. Certified personal trainers start fresh each day with a new workout that employs dumbbells, jump ropes, and the Lebert Equalizer to keep heart rates pumping while building muscle mass. Unlike other boot camps, the trainers motivate through positive reinforcement rather than by yelling at clients or leaving passive-aggressive post-it notes on their fridges. Additionally, each energy-boosting session is held indoors, so students need not worry about sessions being canceled due to rain.