Florida has long been a source of fascination for scientists and explorers, who have searched the Sunshine State for everything from fossilized mammals to gold. The state's natural riches are rivaled only by the cultures that have sprung up around them, and both are on full display at South Florida Museum.
The museum's first floor starts at the very beginning, with fossil evidence of Florida's earliest marine and mammal inhabitants. These fossils eventually make way for archaeological material from cultures that predate European contact. Special exhibits often fill out the museum with unique artifacts ranging from prehistoric artifacts to Penny Hardaway's fossilized high tops. As if that weren't enough, the museum also shares a campus with the Bishop Planetarium and the Parker Manatee Aquarium, where guests can observe and learn about the beloved sea cow. And the museum is also home to Snooty, the world's oldest known manatee.
Captain Tom pilots Riverside Tours' open-air pontoon boat, the River Skipper, along the Manatee River, Gamble Creek, or Terra Ceia Bay during two-hour sightseeing cruises that take place seven days a week. During the smooth ride, his business partner, Susan, regales passengers with factoids about the area as Tom helms the wheel and steers down the tranquil river, avoiding icebergs. Up to 39 passengers perched on bright yellow benches glide smoothly past picturesque waterfront homes, as well as Floridian flora and fauna, as the schooner shares aquatic real estate with dolphins and orange-sunset reflections. This licensed-and-insured, Coast Guard–certified craft is partially covered, proffering protection from sun, rain, and seagulls begging for autographs.
City Fitness gets bodies into superlative shape with 7,000 square feet of fully equipped facilities staffed by experienced trainers. With the one-month membership, workers-out have unlimited access to the gym, allowing busy fitness junkies to fit muscle-punishing regimens into packed corporate schedules and unpredictable hours working as gopher-whisperers. The gym itself lures deltoids, gluteals, and trapezoids with all manner of resistance and cardio machines, facilitating weight-loss and muscle gain, and ensuring minimal wait times for machines. Boasting more than 100 years of combined fitness experience, the center's personal trainers, including professional body builders, college athletes, and martial-arts experts, assist health-seekers in crafting a regimen tailored to a wide range of individual fitness goals. In addition to workout guidance, the trainers offer adroit advice on nutrition, lifestyle, and appropriate dress for a morning wedding.
There's a reason that everyone refers to Tara Sell as Sweets. A true southern belle, Tara is not only sweet and friendly in demeanor, she spends most of her time in the Sweets' Bakehouse kitchen, whipping up a delightful array of sugary treats. Within her colorful turquoise shop—firmly rooted in Bradenton's Village of the Arts—Tara and her kitchen crew fold local Florida and Georgia produce and premium ingredients into creative cakes and inventive baked goods. This also extends to lunchtime, where customers have choices such as gourmet sandwiches and wraps. Throughout the year, Tara spreads her culinary expertise amongst aspiring cooks during her fun and informative cooking classes.
Captain Nate's day begins well before anyone arrives for a fishing charter. The expert angler—who is also a licensed commercial fisherman and one of the few humans that won't melt in water—first goes out on the water to catch live bait. Then, he loads up his 22-foot fishing boat with spinning rods and fishing gear. Once everything's ready, Captain Nate takes small groups out onto Sarasota Bay to snag snook, trout, and whatever else is in season. He cleans and ices each catch, and even snaps a photograph or two. Of course, some people might want to enjoy the water without fishing. If that's the case, Captain Nate takes them on a relaxing boat trip, pausing to gaze at the sunset before grabbing dinner and drinks at one of the area's water-accessible restaurants.