Nestled on the barrier Gulf Coast, St. George Island boasts 22 miles of tranquil beaches and unblemished wildlife sanctuaries. Your relaxing stint in the sand begins at one of Tip Top Vacation Spot's furnished rental properties, outfitted for every family, couple, or couple of families looking to take bets on their children’s beach volleyball games. Rates start as low as $485 (standard fees not included) for a three-night stay in a quaint, two-bedroom villa during the low, summer season, and range upward of $3,600 for a week-long, mid-season stay at a five-bedroom house equipped to corral larger herds of vacationers.
Between the 1820s and the 1940s, ships chugging down the Apalachicola River turned Blountstown into a bustling settlement. Today, 18 buildings from those days still bear witness to the joys and trials of pioneer life in the form of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement’s living museum. There, visitors can admire such structures as an 1860s-era round-log structure and an 1820s hewn-log cabin whose dovetailed joints marked carpenters' transition away from holding wood together with scotch tape. Nearby, a horseless carriage and antique fire engine nestle in the firehouse, and an antique piano rests in the Red Oak Methodist Church. Housed in a shotgun-style abode, Doctor Dowling’s Office sheds light on medical practices of the day, and the two-room school makes students grateful they don’t have to chisel their answers into marble scantron tablets anymore.
The settlement also strives to preserve knowledge of pioneer trades with educational programming and classes that preserve the arts of blacksmithing, basket weaving, and jam making. Additionally, the settlement welcomes the public at events ranging from an annual peanut boil and hog-butchering demonstration to hand-stitched quilt shows, which remind audiences that there are cozier alternatives to today’s blankets woven from discarded computer motherboards.
Freedom Boat Club extends the perks of boat ownership to everyone, but without having to shell out a hefty sum or learning how to clean barnacles off the bottom of the boat with a toothbrush. Sailors can take all types of watercraft—flatboats, fishing boats, pontoons, cruisers—out on the open sea whenever they like, depending on their membership.
The PADI-certified instructors at Panama City Diving run their classes with a focus on the heart of scuba diving-fun and adventure-while keeping safety and each student's diving success as the primary goals. With online courses as well as pool and open-water instruction available, the team prepares divers to explore the region's aquatic splendor, such as Vortex Spring and Morrison Springs. The squad also arranges adventuresome ocean-scuba-diving trips and spearfishing outings during which divers kick through crystal-clear waters to hunt treasure, catch dinner, and play Go Fish with the local mermaids.
Dewsweepers Golf School’s instructors impart club-swinging know-how to golfers of all abilities in one-hour, private lessons. The well-rounded instructors (lessons are valid for any staffer except Tony Ruggiero) can help pupils hone any aspect of their game, such as adding distance to their drives, improving their short game, or bending short irons into serviceable boomerangs. At all locations, computerized video swing analysis technology augments instructors’ ability to diagnose swing deficiencies by providing slow-motion replay for each shot. After the lesson, pupils receive an email file with a copy of the video swing analysis that features voiceover instruction for players to have for later reference and play nonstop at upcoming performance reviews with the boss.
Dreamland Skate Center accommodates wheeled escapades in a recently updated facility that features airbrushed wall art and refinished flooring. After lacing up pairs of roller, speed, or inline skates, duos can orbit the baby-blue rink while listening to DJ jams or whistling a medley of cartoon theme songs. Cosmic laser lights permeate the premises on Friday and Saturday nights, when the center extends its hours until 11 p.m. In the laser-tag area, glowing beams propel competitors into hiding or spur them into action against faux foes. Nearby, an arcade attracts stationary visitors with air hockey, driving games, and a colorful prize wall.
At Skater's Choice, a separate roller rink in Parker, athletes test-drive skates atop colorful carpet in an area with lockers before zooming to the rink or forgoing rolling in lieu of arcade games.