At the helm of Mangrove Masters is Florida native and USCG-certified Captain Jack Boutchyard, who loves to introduce visitors to the waters he calls home—specifically those surrounding Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Captain Jack brings along all gear, including fishing licenses, rods, and bait for flats fishing charters that chase trout near the grass flats and redfish when the tide goes out. For a hands-off outing, the sunset cruise charts course toward a horizon bathed in soft pinks and purples, presenting a colorful backdrop for dolphins and manatees at play. Treasure hunters can also opt to meet Captain Jack on the dock for a short jaunt to the white, sandy shores of North Captiva Island, which is only accessible by boat and teems with riches such as conch shells, sand dollars, and buried chests filled with pirate baseball-card collections.
Engines start to roar, propellers spin, and a large parachute expands into the sky, carrying a light aircraft and its passengers toward the clouds. Silver Lining Aviation's certified instructors create adventures like this every day as they teach visitors to soar behind the controls of sport aircrafts such as powered parachutes, weight-shift trikes, and gyroplanes. Led by licensed FAA flight instructor Craig Ewing, Silver Lining's team takes prospective pilots on introductory flights that allow them to experience aircrafts such as the Airwolf 912 and nibble on different flavors of clouds. The aviation experts also sell sport aircrafts, which patiently wait onsite as customers work through custom ground- and flight-training programs. In most cases, the flight instructors prepare their pupils for aerial navigation in as little as two weeks. They also assist new pilots with replacement parts, provide 24/7 support, and cook oil soup to feed hungry aircraft.
For Pat Glaunert, tennis rackets have been like a pair of butterfly wings. They’ve carried him across the US—from Louisville, Kentucky, where he oversaw all operations as director at Top Gun Academy, to Indianapolis, where he owned and operated his own adult and junior tennis academy.
Now the director of Three Oaks Tennis Center, Pat puts to work certification with the United States Professional Tennis Registry to teach children and adults. His intro courses teach basics to beginners from forehands and backhands to volleys, overheads, and serves. His cardio-tennis sessions build upon basics by pairing swinging and footwork exercises with energetic music and muscle-building activities, which do not include bench-pressing ball machines.
The 105-acre Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium entertains and educates visitors on a 105-acre plot peppered with native wildlife, an educational museum, and three trails snaking through natural habitats. Museum guests learn about the natural world as they commune with captive animals and plants, including native butterflies and a variety of tree frogs. An Audubon aviary houses injured hawks, vultures, and owls, as well as bald eagles preening for guests during breaks from modeling gigs for the quarter and $1 bill. Outside, guests can stroll along nature trails on the center’s grounds to spot all kinds of native plants and wildlife, and the Big Cypress Swamp Boardwalk allows explorers with wheelchairs or strollers to glide along stable paths. Sit back and stare up at the Media Globe dome theater's screen and learn the universe’s best-kept secrets under a breathtaking view of the stars.
Co-organizers and instructors David Maki and Paul Rodino provide an extensive curriculum to help fledgling shutterbugs capture visual transcendence. Students can learn to adjust the aperture, shutter settings, lens toupee, and program modes on a digital SLR camera in the Photo 102 class, designed for novice shot snappers wielding their first single-lens-reflex devices. Photo 103 picks up where its predecessor leaves off, stirring in the finer points of image composition and properly lighting subjects to make them appear translucent. Classes vary from week to week, so keep checking the calendar; past courses have covered table-top studio lighting and communicating with lenses via conversational Latin.
Presented by the River District Alliance, the annual Fort Myers New Year's Eve Downtown Countdown helps tens of thousands of local revelers ring in the New Year in style. As midnight approaches, the main stage's ball drop counts down the waning seconds till the New Year and braces visitors for the keynote spectacle: a dazzling fireworks display over the New Caloosahatchee water basin. The bands and DJs play long after the display, entertaining crowds until as late as 2 a.m., at which point guests are encouraged to return home and set all their clocks one year forward.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.