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.
Visiting wanderlusters can unwind in the inviting alcoves of seafarer William Hazard Northup's historic, charming home, which houses trinket-filled curios and rich wooden embellishments. Guest rooms come stocked with complimentary beverages and baked goods, and offer Wi-Fi access, cable television, and private baths suitable for naval reenactments. Revel in the house’s sparkling chandeliers, spotless hardwood floors, and rooms where turn-of-the-century leaders would gather. Visitors can also shake off morning doldrums with Pensacola Victorian's full breakfast, a marriage of heartiness and elegance reminiscent of a bygone era.
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.
Mattress Direct culls a variety of mattresses in textures ranging from firm to plush from brands such as Tempur-Pedic and Serta. Serta's iComfort, for example, evenly distributes support across the body with microsupport gel capsules nestled in its memory foam; a specialized material prevents overheating and the resulting unpleasant lava-chase nightmares. Mattress Direct's stock of bed frames, bed linens, and pillows allow patrons to assemble complete bedroom sets in one trip, and an express delivery service prevents the hassle of renting a moving truck or outfitting each leg of a new bed with a rollerblade.
The site of the 1969 USGA Women's U.S. Open, Scenic Hills Country Club remains Florida's only course to host a USGA U.S. Open. But that's not the only thing that separates the 6,730-yard track from many of its Sunshine State counterparts. Unlike many courses that run through flat wetlands, Scenic Hills ripples over significant elevation changes—a characteristic that emerges at the first hole, a challenging, 443-yard par-four that plays downhill. The hills feed into a river and pond that, together, come into play on six holes, some of which force golfers to fly the ball directly over the hazard or bribe a frog with a backpack to swim it safely to the other side.
Alongside the course, separate greens for chipping and putting help golfers hone their scoring touch, and a driving range fosters full-swing practice. After a day at the links, golfers can enjoy a salad, sandwich, or other American-style dining at Caponi's Grille, named for 1969 U.S. Women's Open winner Donna Caponi.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 71 course * Length of 6,730 yards from the tips * Course rating of 73.4 from the tips * Slope rating of 130 from the tips * Five tee options