On father-son fishing trips, Bart Swab’s dad taught him not only how to cast his line but also how to treat the aquatic ecosystem surrounding him with respect. Now a licensed and insured guide, Swab helps other fisherman appreciate the open water’s beauty, helming kayak trips through Florida’s pristine saltwater marshes. After arming prospective kayakers with safety tips and familiarizing them with their fishing equipment, Swab guides lead paddlers into the water. They maintain a 3-inch draft that allows students in kayaks to sneak up on fish without having to glue sequins to their skin to look like scales. Kayakers can also gaze through binoculars at the diverse fauna roaming the area’s shores. Trips range from a half day to a full day, and for a more structured route, participants can opt for destination trips to seasonal hot spots, where they can search out fish such as black drum, sheepshead, and tarpon.
Give your favorite urethane orb a town-painting stroll down any of Ormond Lanes’ 40 bowling-ball boulevards, where it can end its night with a session of candy-striped-pin canoodling. Automatic scoring saves time between slinging spheroids, while shoe rental keeps feet from slipping through the ground into the alternate dimension that exists beneath all bowling alleys. Stay hydrated during the game with a medium soft drink while taking note that Ormond Lanes is flanked by a coin-thirsty game room, the people fueling Sandbagger Cafe, and the Kingpin Lounge, a sports bar illuminated by six high-definition televisions and a projection screen.
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.
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.
At Tomoka Oaks Golf Club, well-manicured greens weave through thickets of mature oaks on the 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course. After warming up on the practice green or shooting around sandcastles built by lost beach-goers on the practice bunker, tackle the front tees' collective 5,022 yards or the back tees' challenging 6,745 yards. Throughout the course, a bevy of bunkers camps out on the traditionally small greens, waiting to ambush errant balls. Today’s Groupon also includes a cart rental to chauffer you and a friend across acres of mowed grounds, to the on-site bar and grill, or to the pro shop to get tips from PGA staffers and trade strudel recipes.