Safari Wilderness Ranch's exotic wetland animals freely roam 260 acres of grassy plains, girded by an 850-square-mile watershed. Accredited by the Zoological Association of America and licensed by the USDA, the ranch is an agritourism project dedicated to teaching about endangered species through hands-on safaris. Wandering zebra and watusi-cattle herds coexist harmoniously with waterbuck and lost cable guys as explorers ride by on trucks, horse-drawn carts, and camels. An outdoor aviary flutters with nearly 100 colorful, playful budgie parakeets who will munch millet seeds from the palm of a hand, and a lemur habitat allows guests to feed the ring-tailed primates grapes.
Brooke Pottery features fine ceramic crafts and a host of handmade doodads from more than 400 American artists. A glazed, tri-colored McQueeny Belt Bowl ($48) offers a fetching soup-holding alternative to cupped palms, while the Heart Coaster Set ($40) lovingly shields countertops from clammy cocktails and over-fizzed sodas. Decorate feng shui–deficient gardens with ash-wood Chi Energy Amber wind chimes ($35), or embellish tree limbs with colorful Aloha Chimes ($42). For kids, the Blues Band Harmonica ($7) provides hours of fun in the key of harmonica.
In more than 100 locations around the country, ThrillZown's staff facilitates adrenaline-filled excursions full of extreme water, air, and land adventures. Under the supervision of experts, brave souls defy gravity as they skydive, hang-glide, bungee jump, or play films of apples falling off trees in reverse. On land, crews harness the power of horses, stock cars, and snowmobiles; in the water, groups navigate whitewater rapids or explore aquatic depths as they scuba dive or surf.
Situated in the center of a cluster of lakes, Chain of Lakes Kayak Rentals grants adventurers quick access to scenic nautical exploration. Half- and full-day tours expose visitors to local sights and waterways, giving them ample time to admire the lake’s verdant shores. Alternatively, hourly rentals of single and tandem kayaks let guests venture out at their own pace, paddling to the tune of their own drum or the drum their partner is beating instead of helping with the paddling.
Golf Etc. Lakeland helps golfers through the entire process of upgrading their arsenal, from finding brand-name equipment to adjusting their current gear to fit their game. Brothers Luke and J.J. Miller—the latter of whom coaches golf at Southeastern University—run the shop and personally oversee the custom club-fitting process. In the hitting bay in the back of the store, visitors are likely to see Luke—who fits and maintains clubs for many local pros—analyzing a client's swing with technology that helps him prescribe the right club or zone in on any modifications, such as adjusting the length of the shaft or replacing the club head with a jai-alai basket. Golf Etc. also features an indoor putting green for golfers to test out prospective flatsticks, and J.J. and Luke regularly perform club re-gripping and repair services.
Ridgewood Lakes Golf Club brandishes the design of renowned architect Ted McAnlis, including sparkling white-sand bunkers and stunning vistas that run throughout, especially on Ridgewood's signature 15th hole. Here, elevated tee boxes overlook a sloped green nestled between greenside bunkers. A pond also glistens along the left side, making it the most visually stunning hole on the course and most sought after signature in Ridgewood's yearbook. To prepare for such scenic, yet demanding challenges, players can also utilize Ridgewood's amenities, including a full driving range, chipping and putting areas, and a fully stocked pro shop.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Total length of 7,031 yards from the back tees * Five sets of tees per hole