Bluewater Scuba, a PADI Five-Star Instructor Development Center, helps aquatic adventurers achieve underwater prowess during the comprehensive diver-certification course. The staff of professional PADI instructors guide students through up to 8 classroom hours, up to 12 hours in the facility's heated pool, and 16 hours watching Free Willy on loop. The staff and divers then migrate into the aquatic splendor of a local rock quarry for four certification dives, divvied between two days. At the beginning of each pool-training and certification dive, amphibious pupils are outfitted with rental buoyancy compensators, regulators, gauges, and tanks. Afterward, the newly certified divers receive PADI Open Water Diver certification cards, which represent lifetime PADI certification and VIP access to local pools' deep ends.
Rather than design a haunted house around cheap scare tactics or imaginary monsters, The 99 grounds its theatrical tour of the grotesque in sobering reality. The show has no shortage of frights, but each brutally dramatic scene takes inspiration from the leading causes of death for teens and young adults.
The production derives its name from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's statistics, which report that 99 people aged 12–24 die in America every day—a grand total of nearly 37,000 lives annually. Guests take a guided tour of the 20,000-square-foot theater, where they pass through 14 rooms filled with spectacularly made-up actors who vividly recreate the deaths of teens and young adults by drugs, drunken driving, and peer violence.
Walking through Belmont Mansion's Victorian-era plantation is like exploring an alternate history. The stories presented by the 2,000 artifacts that fill the 18 rooms are all true, but in place of the 19th-century South's traditionally male-dominated household, tour takers witness evidence of a plantation controlled, enlivened, and energized by a woman. After inheriting a fortune from her first husband, Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham oversaw the construction of the mansion with her second husband, basing the style off an Italian villa and completing the project's first phase in 1853. Over the years it would change appearances as dramatically as a caterpillar on Halloween—sometimes by her hand and sometimes not. She commissioned a Prussian-born architect to expand and embellish the house six years after completion, and fled as the Civil War's Battle of Nashville destroyed most of the plantation's outbuildings, including the greenhouse, bear house, and zoo. After Adelicia sold her home in 1887, it transformed into a girl's school, then a girl's academy and junior college, and, in 1952, became part of the Belmont University campus.
Today, Belmont Mansion is the largest house museum in Tennessee, inviting visitors to wander past cast-iron neoclassical statues in the gardens, to cross the fountain courtyard, and to study the original water tower and few remaining gazebos. Stoic marble busts, decorative boxes, and a four-post bed fill the interior's 10,000 square feet, alongside more than 120 works of art. During a themed art tour, which is not included with this Groupon, expert docent Mancil Ezell introduces visitors to these masterpieces, including two 400-year-old Flemish paintings. And for those bright-eyed visitors captivated by the surroundings, the staff also coordinates weddings, building on a tradition established when Adelicia married her third husband on the grounds in 1867.
When Franklin On Foot founder and guide Margie Thessin discusses the Civil War’s impact on Franklin, she shuns dry textbook summaries. Instead, she gathers groups before historic homes and battle sites, and she explains, “The war happened here. The people who lived here– this war was their 9/11. This was their Pearl Harbor.” Suddenly, she sees sets of eyes light up, as minds make the leap from musty tomes and texts to the people who lived¬—and fought and died—where they now stand 150 years ago.
To make history relevant, Ms. Thessin humanizes it, honing in on the famous and lesser-known people who shaped Franklin and the struggles they faced to do so. In that spirit, she seeks out guides who are not only passionate about history but possess a natural knack for storytelling.
In keeping with her commitment to orchestrate vivid tours, Ms. Thessin conducts them by bike or on foot. “You get so much from a place by walking it instead of looking out a window of a bus—you may as well fly at 32,000 feet,” she says. Small groups of sightseers stroll or if preferred, Charleston across the downtown area or expand their tour’s scope by cruising on one of Franklin On Foot’s 24-speed Fuji bikes.
Featured on NewsChannel5 for its conspicuously old-fashioned appearance, Nashville Pedal Tavern takes pub crawlers on its 16-seat bicycle-powered trolley, which allows them to drink as they pedal. With this deal, you’ll be a part of a two-hour foot-powered stroll along an adult-beverage-populated route. With speeds of about 5 mph, the pedal tavern goes slightly faster than a normal pub crawl. Ample snack storage space allows you to load up on pork rinds between stops, and bumpin’ iPod speakers pump up the jam for you and nearby dancing Thomas Jefferson impersonators. Crawlers can continue whetting their whistles at one of several establishments along the mobile pub’s route, including Whiskey Kitchen and Tootsies Orchid Lounge, ideal stops for crawlers wanting to stretch their legs and having another brewsky.
The staff members at Segway of Nashville share their enthusiasm for the eco-friendly pedestrian device by leading tours and selling the Segway PT to interested gliders. Though the compact vehicle's gentle speed and acceptance on sidewalks is part of its draw, Segway team members also like to discuss the eco-friendly benefits they've discovered through various case studies. Since the two-wheelers are fueled by lithium-ion batteries, they don't pollute the environment or cause their drivers to waste money on candy and chips during each gas-station stop. The Segway of Nashville crew also sizes up customers, fitting them with the proper transporter for patrol work, factory jobs, or leisure outings.