Physically, celadon porcelain from the Ming and Qing Dynasties and a 13-foot skeleton of the giant ground sloth don’t have too much in common. But both explore how our world has evolved and how we perceive it—making both perfectly suited for display in the eclectic exhibits of the Museum of Arts & Sciences. The 100,000-square-foot museum—which perches on a 90-acre nature preserve—houses a planetarium alongside myriad exhibits that delve into art, history, and science.
The museum’s particularly impressive assembly of Cuban art draws visitors through 300 years of history with more than 200 rare maps, paintings, and ceramics. Nearby, the exhibit of Chinese art glimmers with gemstones, bronzes, and cloisonné. Visitors also peruse crafts made closer to home in the 4,000-square-foot gallery of American art, where portraits by Gilbert Stuart and landscapes by George Bonfield hang on walls, rather than on the traditional horse’s withers. In addition to its traditional art galleries, the Museum of Arts & Sciences also hosts more fragile objects inside the Helene B. Roberson Visible Storage Building, a 4,400-square-foot glass-fronted space designed to maintain exhibits in a climate-controlled state.
Younger museum-goers can gaze longingly at the 800 teddy bears on display in the Americana-focused Root Family Museum before heading to the Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum to explore ever-changing, hands-on science exhibits. In addition to assembling and testing model racecars, whippersnappers strum the 16 laser beams of a laser harp and try the "Pull Yourself Up" exhibit. Daily shows in the planetarium continue scientific education by unlocking the night sky’s mysteries, such as why stars don’t go out when you blow on them.
Oceanside Paddlesports' knowledgeable instructors—who are professional standup-paddleboard racers—hook customers up with rental equipment and teach them how to skim across the waters around Daytona Beach in standup paddleboards. The outfit also specializes in surfing, outrigger canoeing, and kayaking, offering lessons and tours with each activity. For those who want their own equipment, the shop sells gear by brands such as Piranha, Kialoa, and Boga.
Powered by what is essentially a super lightweight fan with a motor attached, adventurers take to the skies at Phoenix Powered Paragliding with instructors in powered tandem paragliders. During training, teachers illuminate students on how to take off, safely steer, and squawk directions to lost flocks of geese before taking to the skies for one-of-a-kind flights.
Florida Tennis Center's one-hour clinics acquaint beginner and novice racqueteers with tennis fundamentals in an instructive, competitive environment. Players are grouped by age and ability, so baseline apprentices can begin to master tennis's trying techniques among those equally versed in the art of yellow-orb smashing. Glide across one of the complex's 24 green-clay courts as the ball machine serves up shots to batter cross-court with a textbook low-to-high forehand, a firm-wristed volley, or a highly illegal—but still impressive—scissor-kick. The club provides free loaner racquets to those yet to wrangle their own set of strings and the final class consists of a one-hour supervised practice match where players can test their meddle against fellow classmates and berate imaginary line judges.
Daytona has a longstanding tradition of beachside racing, and today, the Daytona International Speedway draws hundreds of thousands of racing fans each year to watch world-class champions such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Stock-car and motorcycle events round out the calendar all year, highlighted by the Daytona 500 in February—the first race of the Sprint Cup Series and typically regarded as the most prestigious. During insider tours, visitors can go behind the scenes to explore the speedway's elevated press boxes, banked infield turns, and vending machines with travel-size bottles of motor oil.Meanwhile, at Daytona Beach itself, cars toting beach gear roll across the hard-packed sand through oceanfront driving zones. There are also traffic-free areas; in one such pedestrian-only stretch south of town, you can see the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, named for the famed Spanish explorer who once reputedly searched the area for the Fountain of Youth. There, a spiral staircase winds up to the top of a 175-foot tower, where you can overlook a 52-acre park filled with armadillos, sandpipers, and native wildflowers.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
Runners embarking on the Honky Tonk Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5K won't need headphones to hear twangy country tunes. That’s because the hilly Wisconsin Dells course features live bands and DJs along the route to keep participants energized as they race toward the finish line. The party-like atmosphere doesn’t end with the race, as a full-blown celebration complete with food, beer, and line dancing awaits runners and their family and friends. Aside from age-group awards for the top three males and females in each race, finish-line gifts include a Honky Tonk cowboy hat and goodie bag for all participants, a finisher-medal buckle for marathoners and half marathoners, and an ice bath for those who decided to pogo stick the entire 26.2 miles. The Honky Tonk marathon and half-marathon course is USA Track & Field certified and is also a Boston Marathon qualifier.