As visitors step into the balmy gardens of The Butterfly Place, they may feel as though they are “walking into a floating garden . . . as if they are being carried as well.” That was the experience of a Wicked Local writer who visited the seasonal indoor sanctuary, which houses both local butterflies and tropical species culled from around the world. As the butterflies freely wing about the sanctuary, koi fish swim through serene ponds along the winding pathway, and quail waddle and moonwalk through myriad species of colorful flora. Those who find that watching the butterflies sip nectar incites their own hunger can take a break at the outdoor picnic area and nibble on any snacks they may have brought along.
Animal Rescue Front (ARF) was founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina as a first-responder animal-rescue team that helped save the lives of cats and dogs that survived the disaster. Focusing on one affected community in Mississippi, the organization transported more than 1,100 animals to homes and shelters that wouldn't euthanize them at locations across the country. The effort reduced the kill rate from 80 percent to zero for the first 12 months after the hurricane.
Now, ARF continues to fulfill its mission: “Until there are none save one.” The organization works to prevent companion animals from being euthanized through spay/neuter initiatives, adoption services, and educational programs. Teams in Louisiana and Mississippi also rescue animals directly from shelters that are at full capacity, and then place the animals in foster homes to socialize them and provide medical care and prepare them for adoption.
Fully licensed by the Florida Department of Education, Orlando Bartending School instructs wannabe watering-hole workers in the thirst-slaking art of sips and swigs via its ServSafe Alcohol Program, which prepares students for the school’s online certification process. During each class on the flexible schedule, a professional gulp guru doles out hands-on guidance behind a fully functioning bar—everything is real except the simulated alcohol and the actor playing the frazzled concert promoter. The liquor lessons cover more than 100 tipsy-making tonics on a glass-by-glass basis, starting with the oft-used highball before moving on to martini glasses and finally the oft-neglected princess slipper. Students will also master other aspects of effective bartending, such as how to spin the bottle in the air before pouring and how to sift all the gold out of a bottle of Goldschläger.
The intimate Headliners Comedy Club at The Gold Room seats guests at private tables to take in the quips of regularly performing comedians. During two-hour shows, three standups—including one national headliner—take the stage in turn. Onlookers can also enjoy pub-fare offerings from the kitchen, such as saucy chicken wings or classic sliders, to fuel belly laughs and distract mouths so they don't shout out premature punch lines.
As the second race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, the Sylvania 300 tasks NASCAR’s drivers with navigating “The Magic Mile” in front of a crowd of up to 105,000 fans. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, and other racers will scream around a 1.058-mile Möbius strip in a 300-lap contest that determines the drivers’ playoff standings, as well as their ability to preset a car’s radio stations. General-admission seating borders either turn two or turn three of the speedway, and main-grandstand seating allows attendees to gaze upon the finish line, as well as directly into the souls of the pit crew.
Winemaking began as a hobby for Sweet Baby Vineyard founder Lewis Eaton. In the summer, he and his family found themselves travelling to local farms to pick fresh strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples, which later made it into Lewis’ wines. Those creations later became the foundation for Sweet Baby Vineyard's now-expansive wine varieties. Today, the winery grows four grape varietals and the tasting room welcomes visitors for complimentary tastings of many of Sweet Baby’s creations, such as bartlett pear wine, the eternally embarrassed blush, and dry red.
Founded by Miss Fitness U.S.A. Champion and World Bodybuilding & Fitness Federation Figure Pro Shelly Rego and led by the trained Forever Health and Fitness GroupXTreme Classes crew, members are able to get fit and have a good time doing it. Each week, they pack a schedule with Latin-dance-inspired Zumba classes taking place in a studio promoting a nightclub atmosphere. As global beats thud through the speakers, the students throw themselves into the aerobic dance workout’s easy-to-follow choreography, which makes the classes feel more like a party than a visit to the gym. The staff has also been known to organize flash-mob dances with routines taught during class. At the start of the year, instructors lead a six-week Resolution Solution program that helps clients achieve their fitness goals, such as losing weight, becoming more active, or being able to do the worm all the way to the gym and back.