When patrons exit RiverGirl Fishing Co.'s historic train depot for their aquatic kayak and tubing lessons, they're placed in the charge of the outfit's founder, Kelly McCoy. During tours of the New River, which runs north through Todd, she educates guests about the area's natural landscape.
During the winter she heads to Florida, where she leads groups out onto the calm, peaceful waters of the Choctawatchee River from access points such as the Port Washington boat ramp near Eden Garden State Park, the scenic 30-acre gulf coast, or the black creek, and then guides the flotilla into the region's untamed natural beauty. As a fisheries biologist, Kelly's passion helps visitors and locals enjoy the surrounding landscape with conservation-conscious activities.
With a fleet of kayaks and standup paddleboards, Bay Paddlesports gives guests a chance to glide across the coastal waters of Destin under their own steam. The coastal company rents out 12' Bote-brand paddleboards, which offer a sturdy perch on which guests can stand as they propel their vessel through the surf. Those who wish to sit back as they roam the tides can do so in one of Bay Paddlesports' Old Town?brand kayaks.
Nimble sages with plenteous stockpiles of chi guide students of all skill levels down the path of mindfulness in classes that seek to promote inner health and self-actualization. The experienced clan of instructors combines forces to lead a schedule of calming, focused classes designed to accommodate all skill levels. Beginners can cut their tensile teeth in Chill classes that prop chakras up on sturdy tripods and review basic postures at an approachable pace. The Activate classes further develop strength and flexibility, while one- or two-hour Yoga Heat sessions spark a purgative inferno with athletic explorations of deep asanas and breathing techniques. A serene, communal studio space helps reduce the effects of stress and assists in cleansing the impurities garnered in spiritual mud-wrestling matches.
The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music. On Sunday nights at the Fort Walton Beach location, a comedy show cranks up the revelry at 9 p.m. after the dueling pianos stop for a rest.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. The menu includes military specials and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 32-ounce booze buckets filled with fruit-flavored rum or other fruity libations. Honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is no ordinary repository of fish and aquatic mammals. Since its founding in the early 1950s by marine researcher J.B. "Brandy" Siebenaler and scientists at the University of Miami, the park has become a place where guests engage with creatures from around the world's waterways. As they explore the grounds, guests might see penguins and otters romping in chilly waters, spy an alligator basking patiently in the sun, or have up close and personal encounters with dolphins and stingrays. In addition to facilitating fun, the park is also dedicated to education; members of the park's animal care team host chats and shows throughout the day.
For an inside look, check out this behind the scenes video tour.
Just off the beach, a man floats over the water, suspended in the air by streams of water jetting from his hands and feet as though he were testing an Iron Man?inspired apparatus. This back-mounted pack?called a Flyboard?works through a propulsive system that continually intakes and rapidly expels water, pushing the rider into the air or wherever he or she directs it to fly. The Flyboard, along with aqua trikes, WaveRunners, pontoon boats, kayaks, and standup paddleboards, comprise the unique rental fleet of Power Up Watersports. With these advanced watercrafts, Power Up?s team hopes to evolve Destin?s watersports scene, which includes plans to train the area?s dolphins to serve drinks.