Children at a birthday party with Nonie's Ark Animal Encounters might get to meet Jimmy, Jack, or Jill—but despite their deceptively human names, these guests are actually exotic animals. A naturalist and wildlife educator with a background in zoo-animal technology, Nonie encourages kids touch and sometimes hold live animals such as snakes, toads, chinchillas, and sugar gliders during hands-on interactive and educational presentations. Nonie has adopted and cared for each of these creatures, many of which were formerly unwanted pets. At some parties, Nonie also leads children in animal role-playing games like eating dirt cake and worms and doles out goodies such as safari helmets and outdoor toys.
What do active-duty military members, high-school athletes, brides-to-be, and senior citizens all have in common? Not much, except that each of these kinds of people has gotten fit with M—or, Marketa Hutchison.
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Marketa arrived in the U.S. in 2006 and began collecting certifications as a group exercise fitness instructor. She also became a certified personal trainer in order to work more closely with clients. Today, Marketa provides both private and group instruction during Pilates classes and boot camps at Navarre Beach. No matter the setting, Marketa emphasizes body-weight exercises and the use of free weights, never using fancy fitness machines to get clients in shape or hold her spot in line at the bank.
After enjoying a pint of craft beer at Hopjacks Filling Station, there’s a good chance you’ll find a cold one in their refrigerator, ready to be taken home. This hybrid retail store, beer garden, and café has 33 handpicked taps and hundreds of specialty beers and wines from around the world. Servers fill glasses and growlers with favorites from Pensacola Bay Brewery and limited seasonal and obscure beers alongside plates of casually upscale pub fare. Seated at tall chairs, patrons enjoy bites of charcuterie plates and toasty sandwiches, from genoa salami to roasted duck, at long, glossy tables in the center of the room. Diners can also wander outside to eat, drink, and set off post-meal bottle rockets on the patio.
Play combines the creature comforts of childhood with those of adulthood: arcade games and beer. Taps and cans dispense an ever-rotating reservoir of 20 microbrews—more than enough liquid confidence to attempt high scores on the rows of coin operated games such as Pac-Man, Street Fighter, and Galaga. All around, the thumping bumpers of pinball machines mingle with the clack of pool balls and the hiss of air hockey tables. But beneath the flashing surface of Play is a drive to bring people together.
When not wagering the next round of drinks on a game of hoops, or butting heads in a DJ-accompanied skee-ball tournament, guests can team up to test their mental mettle during trivia night. Karaoke evenings arm friends instead with microphones so that they can belt out a duet or practice eulogizing each other in front of a rapt audience. Quieter interaction can be found in an '80s-inspired nook, where an original Nintendo and a VHS-player revive summer afternoons spent playing Super Mario Brothers and writing love letters to John Cusack.