Between the 1820s and the 1940s, ships chugging down the Apalachicola River turned Blountstown into a bustling settlement. Today, 18 buildings from those days still bear witness to the joys and trials of pioneer life in the form of Panhandle Pioneer Settlement’s living museum. There, visitors can admire such structures as an 1860s-era round-log structure and an 1820s hewn-log cabin whose dovetailed joints marked carpenters' transition away from holding wood together with scotch tape. Nearby, a horseless carriage and antique fire engine nestle in the firehouse, and an antique piano rests in the Red Oak Methodist Church. Housed in a shotgun-style abode, Doctor Dowling’s Office sheds light on medical practices of the day, and the two-room school makes students grateful they don’t have to chisel their answers into marble scantron tablets anymore.
The settlement also strives to preserve knowledge of pioneer trades with educational programming and classes that preserve the arts of blacksmithing, basket weaving, and jam making. Additionally, the settlement welcomes the public at events ranging from an annual peanut boil and hog-butchering demonstration to hand-stitched quilt shows, which remind audiences that there are cozier alternatives to today’s blankets woven from discarded computer motherboards.
Pirate’s Island Adventure Golf welcomes land-loving children, adults, and seniors for a high-seas putting adventure. Pirate ships, dungeons, caves, and waterfalls adorn the two 18-hole courses of challenging angles and tricky terrain. Play all 36 holes with this all-day pass for multiple chances to win the ultimate hidden treasure—mini-golf bragging rights to lord over your family, colleagues, or date. Experienced club swingers can practice their short game while novice putters can strive for that elusive hole-in-one or the zen-meditation exercise of the hole-in-none.
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.
Xtreme Skydivers yokes each leapster to an experienced instructor who guides them through the ups and downs of tandem sky-scaling, and ensures that parachutes deploy at the right time for safe landings. Thrill seekers don jump suits, tie their teachers to their backs, and hop aboard an 18-person Grand Caravan airplane that shuttles them 14,500 feet into the sky. When conditions permit, the teacher-student tandem tumbles through cloud caves, screams hello to beachgoers, and adds emoticons to skywriting before landing delicately on a soft bed of sand.