Just off the white-sand coastline of northwest Florida, Lanier Sailing Academy teaches students to captain their own aquatic adventures with classes in cruising, chartering, and navigation. Classes include programs for beginners to advanced students, starting with the Practical Sailing for Basic Keelboat Certification course, in which novice navigators learn to steer boats, trim sails, and avoid swashbuckling sea otters. While working toward certification in various programs, students explore the Intracoastal Waterway and its bounty of dolphins, rays, blue pelicans, and myriad fish. Lanier Sailing Academy’s experienced members earn membership into the Buccaneer Sailing Club and are able to rent and sail 22- to 25-foot boats at their leisure.
Sure as the rise of the twin suns above Tatooine, the Pensacola Para Con brings together fans of science fiction, horror, gaming, and anime for an annual weekend of subcultural panels and events. Celebrity guests from beloved franchises stop by to sign autographs and bask in the adoration of their fans, while industry icons talk shop about their latest invention: the two-sided die. A costume contest and parade put meticulous fan outfits in the spotlight, and replicas of such iconic items as the U.S.S. Enterprise's captain's chair and the TARDIS stand ready for photo opportunities. Throughout the weekend, the event stages host live music performances, panel discussions, and movie screenings.
Children at a birthday party with Nonie's Ark Animal Encounters might get to meet Jimmy, Jack, or Jill—but despite their deceptively human names, these guests are actually exotic animals. A naturalist and wildlife educator with a background in zoo-animal technology, Nonie encourages kids touch and sometimes hold live animals such as snakes, toads, chinchillas, and sugar gliders during hands-on interactive and educational presentations. Nonie has adopted and cared for each of these creatures, many of which were formerly unwanted pets. At some parties, Nonie also leads children in animal role-playing games like eating dirt cake and worms and doles out goodies such as safari helmets and outdoor toys.
At Vayu Sailing, a U.S. Coast Guard–certified captain opens his 32-foot catboat to groups seeking gorgeous views and fresh breezes across the calm waterways of Pensacola Bay. As the captain harnesses the wind in his sails to fuel the boat for a three-hour excursion, groups of as many as six settle into the comfortable seats of their private vessel. As the sailboat navigates the scenic impressions of oceanic ripples, passengers can pop a complimentary bottle of bubbly, snap photos of picturesque sunsets, and enjoy leisurely plank walkings with friends or family. Vayu Sailing’s flexible schedule lets Groupon holders schedule their perfect sailing date through next spring, accommodating those seeking popular weekend evenings or aquatic cures for the Monday blues.
Pensacola's oldest surviving house located on its original site, the Quina House was built in 1810. The shingled-frame cottage was made of local pine, cypress, and oak with a double-fire chimney, butterfly roof, and a portico with columnettes. Its namesake, Desiderio Quina, bought the house in 1821, had seven children with his wife, Margarita Bauve, and ran an apothecary business. In the same year, the Spanish Floridas were incorporated into the United States of America⎯the official event was presided over by Andrew Jackson just a few blocks from the Quinas’ front porch. Desiderio and Margarita’s presence remains in the house today in their historical furnishings, which include a horse-hair sofa and a sleigh bed from 1830. Today, the Quina House Museum sponsors date-night house tours, monthly luncheons, and walking tours of the Seville Square Historic District so that visitors can experience life before fruit roll-ups.