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.
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.
During a round of golf in this region, it’s not uncommon for players to see the occasional alligator sunning itself on the banks of a fairway pond. The same, however, cannot be said for miniature-golf courses, unless you’re playing at Congo River Golf, where the civilized sinking of putts coexists with the visceral carnage of live-alligator feedings. More than 25 alligators wait for patrons to feed them morsels of gator food in an exhibit beside the course. Though the course offers no chance for an encounter with the ancient, scaly species, it enchants players with waterfalls, safari-themed artifacts, and towering rock faces. In addition, Congo River Golf encompasses an indoor arcade and a gemstone-mining station, where guests dig through dirt for fossils, arrowheads, and Neanderthal’s kindergarten time capsules.
Set against the bright blue sky, Paragon Ocean Walk 10's colorful façade bursts with primary colors, its yellow awnings jutting out from a large red rotunda. The real sights are inside, however, where Sony 4K digital projectors beam the latest blockbuster movies over the stadium seating and onto the silver screen. Other luxury amenities include servings of beer and wine at the concession stands and—for private events—rooms with a view of the ocean and its classic films screened on tall ships' white sails.
Burn Boardsports launches thrill-seekers skyward with experienced space-surfers and a curriculum designed by the International Kiteboarding Organization. A one-hour introductory lesson bestows the first steps toward mastering off-land travel for high-flyers 12 and older (those under 18 require parental permission). Certain safety techniques are highlighted during the session, which fosters skills with a two-line kite while keeping lungs and budding gills safely intact. Novices can establish a proper base to build upon in future lessons, eventually experiencing the thrill of plane-free air travel combined with the style of surfing. Burn Boardsports recommends participants bring sunglasses, sun-block, water, a towel, and cans of potent mermaid repellant. Call Burn Boardsports for available times and to set up a lesson location. Trainers will travel within 20 miles of the Daytona Beach area for lessons.
Pirate's Island and Pirate's Cove plunge putters deep into a thicket of thieving pirates, buried treasure, and stowaways tangled in rigging. Players select an appropriately sized putting club and a golf ball of any color, asserting individuality while creating polychromatic turf art. Putt through two 18-hole courses (one at the Daytona Beach Shores location), skirting shimmering waterfalls that conceal skeletons and spelunking convocations behind translucent veils. The golf course abuts a glorious gift shop, and snacks are available for additional gold.