Amateur surfers are a lot like newborn fawns: they’re wide-eyed, full of life, and not so great at standing. That’s why head instructor and founder of Surfari Surf, Rick Gehris—along with his team of seasoned instructors—begins every first-time lesson by introducing a simple, achievable goal: stand. To increase the chances of success, Gehris and his instructors—well versed in Hawaiian, Californian, and Floridian surfing methods—hop right into the water to assist students as they cut into the waves. The instructors hang off the tails of their surfboards, stabilizing each board and repositioning students until they’re ready to take to the open water and try out their pickup lines on the nearest, cute-enough dolphin.
In addition to surf lessons and camps, instructors also show off their athletic prowess during standup-paddleboard lessons, which often are supplemented by independent board rentals.
Although the 12-ounce Delmonico steak is the house specialty at The Blue Grotto, the baked stuffed flounder is the owner's favorite dish on the menu. Guests have their choice of sitting in the azure dining room, where the decor is inspired by the Blue Grotto sea cave on the island of Capri, or the dog-friendly outdoor deck that overlooks the marina. The venue turns into a nightclub in the late-night hours, with DJs, dancing, and free drinks for manatees.
The Peabody annually features touring Broadway shows, music and dance, concert artists, civic programs, and juried competitions. Situated in a historic beachside neighborhood, the Peabody Auditorium is a favorite venue for a host of returning performance artists and production companies.
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.
Twenty-nine stories separate Top of Daytona Restaurant & Lounge from the sands and rolling surf of Daytona Beach. From this vantage point, diners savor expansive, 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean, the mainland, and the Halifax River—views that the Orlando Sentinel lauded as "spectacular"—all while indulging in a menu inspired by classical pan-European cooking.
Executive Chef Vadim Vladimirsky incorporates Portuguese, Russian, French, and Italian flavors into his dishes, embracing the cuisines' rustic roots while adding his own refined, yet accessible touches. Accents such as homemade mozzarella cheese, a reduction of aged balsamic vinegar, and a rosemary-tinged port sauce demonstrate his dedication to upscale eating. And given the restaurant's oceanside location, an emphasis on fish and Caribbean lobster comes perfectly natural—Chef Vladimirsky even personally buys the seafood fresh from local suppliers each morning.
Should guests somehow tear their eyes away from the food and the view beyond the curving wall of windows, they find the dining room echoes Top of Daytona’s classic feel. A stone-circled fishpond bubbles in the center of the room, surrounded by stately chairs and tables draped with crisp white linens. The ambience grows most spirited on select Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday evenings as live musicians entertain the crowd and help teach passing seagulls to sing in tune.
Lined with mahogany-colored shelves, Wine Bank's walls display bottles upon bottles of wines, suggesting that its name is no misrepresentation. But unlike most wine shops, Wine Bank isn't just about wine. Here, beers, fine wines, and cigars complement an in-house menu of upscale starters and gourmet entrees, ranging from pork filet mignon to shrimp mac 'n' cheese. And for those who would rather drink wine than spend thousands building vineyards in their basement, Wine Bank offers memberships with discounts and invitations to private tastings and events.