The Edge’s movie masters light up wall-to-wall screens with anticipated blockbusters and obscure indie flicks as guests kick back in high-backed, adjustable chairs. 18-inch risers position each row at just the right height for an unobstructed stadium-style view, and Dolby Digital surround sound systems tickle eardrums with multidimensional soundscapes. While cinephiles tuck in to tasty tidbits and delicious plotlines, moveable cup-holder armrests make it easy to stow beverages, snuggle with loved ones, or catapult beverages onto not-so-loved ones. The concessions stand sells beer and wine throughout screenings.
Although true time travel is still a thing of science fiction, Teddy and Jenny Meeks have captured a similar sensation at Pier Park. In 2009, the couple purchased the 1964 Allan Herschell Carousel that had been an iconic attraction at the now-closed Miracle Strip Amusement Park. The 30 horses and two chariots were immediately swarmed with giddy riders—some children, and some adults who fondly remembered feeding the horses wooden apples at the carousel's former home. The spinning steeds so charmed the locals that Teddy and Jenny began a more comprehensive revival. They bought Miracle Strip's 1985 Balloon Race and 1952 Red Baron rides, and when they couldn't find the park's original 1975 Ferris wheel, they hunted for one of the same make and model.
The Big Eli wheel now awards its guests views over the Gulf of Mexico and several other classic rides, including a Tilt-a-Whirl and train cars that kids crank by hand. Flowers cloak hanging baskets, and topiaries mimicking animal figures accent sandy paths, adding to the venue's picturesque nostalgia. Teddy and Jenny have also installed a butterfly pavilion, about which Bay Life magazine reports that visitors can glimpse 700 flying specimens, hatching cocoons, and caterpillars drawing up blueprints for wings.
Panama City visitors and natives are never more than a hop, a skip, and a parasail away from aquatic amusement, thanks to Adventures at Sea’s more than 60 locations, most stationed behind Panama City Beach's hotels and condos. The staff rents out pontoon boats for trips to Shell Island and pulls up to six riders on inflatable banana boats with a speedy jet ski. Experienced crews captain charter fishing trips and give fishers everything they need to catch trophies such as king mackerel, red groupers, and Stanley Cups that got away. After action-packed days filled with sunny memories, visitors can rent a lounge chair and soak up the sunset.
After a flood devastated the area in 1994, Flint RiverQuarium was built to educate future generations about the geographic and ecologic conditions in the Flint River Basin. Families explore exhibits made to look like natural habitats, in which native creatures splash, swim, and make ill-advised deals with cunning sea witches to become human.
Size: seven permanent exhibits
Eye Catcher: The RiverQuarium Blue Hole Spring holds 175,000 gallons of water and stretches 22 feet deep. Inside, 120 species of fish, turtles, and alligators swim, from the enormous 8-foot-long Gulf sturgeon to adorable turtles such as the red-eared slider.
Permanent Mainstay: The Cypress Creek Aviary houses indigenous birds such as the great egret and little blue heron.
Don't Miss: The Hatchery, where fish are raised from egg to fingerling before being transferred to other exhibits
Hands-On Experiments: Get up close and personal with one of the Flint River Basin's denizens during animal encounters, regularly scheduled on the weekend.
Catch a Movie" The Imagination Theater shows short films centered on local species, such as fire ants and alligators.
Special Programs: On Discovery Days (the first and third Sunday of every month) the RiverQuarium comes to life with arts and crafts activities, story tellers, and live animal presentations.
Helen Back believes a meal should be about more than just food. That's why its menu serves up the right portions to enjoy while watching a golf game or lounging on an outdoor patio. Try a white-sauce pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, and black olives or down a bowl of nachos covered in spicy meat and jalape?os, while washing down your meal with one of the frequent drink specials from the full bar. Weekly specials include free pizza for members of the military and motorcyclists, and the restaurant's connection to the community also extends to fundraising for local youth and the Special Ops Warrior Foundation.
Sporty's Westside Pub, a classic bar complete with three shimmering pool tables and burbling fountains of draft beer, provides a libation-fueled oasis seven days a week. During happy hour, held every weekday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., domestic bottles ($2) slide into hands and draft beers such as Pabst, Yuengling, and Keystone ($1.50+) meet sippers' lips. Pitchers of Woodchuck Cider ($7) water groups of friends, and the bar's $1 shots incite bubbly conversations about which of the pool tables would be the easiest to nap atop.