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.
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.
Powerhouse Gym's clean, brightly lit fitness facility blooms with activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As clients speed toward goals on cardio machines—including ellipticals, rowing machines, and recumbent bikes—or tussle with a huge selection of free weights, instructors lead hundreds of fitness classes that range from TRX Suspension to ballroom dancing. After working out, members can unwind on the facility's clinical-grade hydro-massage machine, kick back in one of the lie-down tanning beds, or socialize at the onsite café area. As a family-friendly facility, the gym also offers a supervised Kids Club devoid of child-devouring boogeymen.
Sting Rays Sports Saloon's menu is helmed by a hearty selection of classic American favorites to complement the fully stocked bar with 19 beers on tap. Bask in the salty downtown flavor while luxuriating on Sting Rays expansive outdoor patio, munching on a crisp, bacon-topped Stingrays wedge salad ($7.99) or onion rings that double as swanky beach bracelets ($6.99). Bun enthusiasts can mollify maws with an eclectic array of burgers and chicken sandwiches ($7.99–$9.99) or exhibit their love of exclamation points with a Hot Diggity Dog! ($7.99), an all-beef, meat-encased flavor tube served on a grilled hoagie roll and sprinkled with chili and cheddar for an additional charge. Tiny diners can gratify gullets with a selection of children's fare ($3.99–$5.99), and those looking to fill their hourly meat quota can sink knives into a juicy, Midwestern-raised 12-ounce ribeye steak ($14.99).
Renew Yoga's certified teachers help students strengthen their cores, perfect their postures, and focus their minds in a variety of group classes. Beginners' yoga builds a strong foundation at a relaxed pace, paying special attention to proper technique, alignment, and breathing. Barkan-method warm Vinyasa simulates a summer afternoon in Calcutta with a heated room, abundance of dynamic poses, and the occasional rickshaw relay. Students of all levels can relax away stress with gentle yoga, and yin yoga encourages them to hold poses for extended periods to develop deep-tissue strength and empathy for stone gargoyles. Classes are generously scheduled throughout the week in the morning, afternoon, and evening hours.
Crunching metal and the sweet smell of burning rubber prevail as the Monster X Tour invades the Ocean Center, thrilling all ages in an action-packed motorsports showcase. Bigfoot, the forefather of all station-wagon smashers, leads a fleet of competitive 10,000-pound monster trucks, including Bear Foot and Black Knight, through jaw-dropping races, wheelie contests, and freestyle car composting. Transaurus, a two-story transforming robot that never learned to love, buries his woes by chomping entire cars in his massive jaws while watching reruns of Felicity. Before the show, VIP tickets also grant access to the Pit Party, where fans can have autographs signed by the drivers. During intermission, fans get the opportunity to eschew sea level with a ride inside a monster truck or visit General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard and learn its true feelings about excessive hood sliding.