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.
The Flint RiverQuarium pulses with animal life both aquatic and terrestrial and with an array of interactive exhibits. Sea-creature gawkers can view more than 120 watery friends at play inside the blue-hole spring, and fans of fowl can visit the Cypress Pond Aviary, which houses a multiplicity of native birds unaware of Alfred Hitchcock. After ogling submerged or airborne species, guests can check out the theater, in which a three-story-tall screen flickers with stunning nature films that show creatures in their natural habitats. The aquarium staff presents dive shows, alligator feedings, and penguin-led anger-management classes to provide visitors with a variety of inclusive educational demonstrations.
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 jalapeños, 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.