Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park is no ordinary repository of fish and aquatic mammals. Since its founding in the early 1950s by marine researcher J.B. "Brandy" Siebenaler and scientists at the University of Miami, the park has become a place where guests engage with creatures from around the world's waterways. As they explore the grounds, guests might see penguins and otters romping in chilly waters, spy an alligator basking patiently in the sun, or have up close and personal encounters with dolphins and stingrays. In addition to facilitating fun, the park is also dedicated to education; members of the park's animal care team host chats and shows throughout the day.
For an inside look, check out this behind the scenes video tour.
Emerald Coast Science Center has 5,000 square feet of gallery space filled with eye-opening, family-friendly exhibits on principles of biology, physics, earth science, and technology. In the Hall of Life, there are microscopes where you can peer at bodily cells, as well as a replica intestine that unfurls to reveal its surprising length of 17 feet. At Color & Light, you can interact with mirrors, colorful lights, and a domesticated rainbow. And in the Critters room, kids get to meet such museum residents as Tickles the Snake and Rosy the Tarantula.
The professional pilots at Timberview Helicopters ferry passengers high into the clouds aboard a sky-scraping whirlybird during flight tours through Destin, Kansas City, and Key West. Having chartered flights for National Geographic and the Travel Channel, these pilots expertly navigate planes toward sweeping, picturesque views, allowing sightseers to steal glances of Fort Walton Beach, downtown Kansas City, and Key West's ocean views from a perspective normally reserved for birds and astronauts with binoculars. Additionally, their high-definition videos grant guests a lasting commemoration of their in-flight experience. When they're not chartering tours, they teach budding pilots the gravity-defying tricks of their trade through pilot training and lug precious shipments from port to port with their cargo-lifting services.
Working from an in-house frame shop and employing high-quality materials, the master framers at Geana's Art Gallery & Custom Framing prepare virtually any item for permanent display. Selecting from an extensive collection of mouldings, an experienced framesmith encases photographs or World's Greatest Doggy-Paddler certificates behind a protective pane of glass (roughly $125 on average), or tears down and refits previously framed pieces to replace broken glass (roughly $50 on average). Alternatively, framers can mount projects on acid-free foam core or stretch canvases (roughly $299 on average) to properly display paintings and prevent torn cotton ligaments. Though prices vary according to size and difficulty, almost any framing challenge is fair game, from shadowboxes and plasma-TV surrounds to priceless uniforms and custom mirrors, both oversize and enchanted.
A fully equipped marine laboratory, Dauphin Island Sea Lab provides marine science programs for students and visitors of all ages in an effort to propagate knowledge of marine science and help protect local ecosystems. Dedicated to education, it runs K–12 teacher education programs on the oceans and marine environments to help get these subjects into the classroom. Its summer college programs and graduate programs offer opportunities for further study in oceanography and coastal ecology. The Sea Lab also works to maintain coastal wetlands and resources, conducts research on the Mobile Bay watershed and shore waters, and maintains the Gulf of Mexico Science Journal.
In addition to its scientific work, the Sea Lab runs a public aquarium, the Estuarium, which depicts local marine habitats including the Gulf of Mexico, a drowned river valley, and a living salt marsh. These exhibits contain a variety of native plants and wildlife such as marsh grasses, recreations of cypress swamps, and an American alligator, and at the Estuarium, children can touch live fish.
The USS Alabama spent 37 months in active duty during World War II. It earned nine battle stars and never suffered significant damage from enemy fire. Following this illustrious military career, the battleship was set to be scrapped because of the prohibitive cost of maintaining a wartime fleet. Efforts to save the battleship became the catalyst for corporations to help fund the balance and attain the goal of $1 million, which was used to preserve the battleship as a memorial to the men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. And so the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park was born.
Today, the ship rests safe and sound in the harbor?a 680-foot mammoth whose enormous mass displaces more than 44,500 tons of water.
Resting alongside the ship, the WWII submarine USS Drum welcomes visitors to explore inside its labyrinthine hull, inviting them to climb through hatches and imagine what life would be like if every doorway were round. The memorial park also houses a cavalcade of military equipment, vehicles, and aircraft on display, including a T-55 Iraqi tank, a Cold War?era Lockheed A-12 Blackbird, and a World War II?era Douglas C-47D Skytrain.