Unlike many big-box gyms, Club II has the whole family in mind. In addition to offering fitness services and health coaching for grownups, they host youth camps and daycare services for the kids. They up the ante with tennis and swim lessons, as well as social activities.
Members of Freedom Boat Club enjoy the luxury of captaining their own aquatic excursions without the maintenance and storage hassles of owning a boat. Outings begin with a boat-orientation course, during which an experienced captain teaches students key nautical skills such as tying knots, docking in the wind, and navigating by the position of a half-eaten sandwich that kind of looks like the Big Dipper. Once skippers feel comfortable commanding a water chariot, they take to the seas for a day of sailing along with up to six additional guests. With the trial membership, boaters can choose any available Hurricane deck boat, inshore fishing boat, or pontoon. Hop aboard Orange Beach's 21-foot Hurricane 2100 to cut through the water on the strength of a 150-hp engine or commandeer Perdido Key's Sweetwater 2486 pontoon boat to benefit from a deck-top canopy in the event that a witch's curse makes it rain salamanders.
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.
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.
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.
Wahoo Watersports sets up its clients with jet skis and pontoons at its perch on the Cotton Bayou, and then waves goodbye as they make hay for the open waters of the Gulf. Jet Skiers can spend the day picking and choosing which waters to shred or follow a predetermined route that will bring them up close with dolphins frolicking in their marine habitat. Customers can also charter a fishing boat and enjoy the private attention of a pro fisherman, who points out the best spots to drop a line and cleans the catch for free at the end of the trip.