Nimble sages with plenteous stockpiles of chi guide students of all skill levels down the path of mindfulness in classes that seek to promote inner health and self-actualization. The experienced clan of instructors combines forces to lead a schedule of calming, focused classes designed to accommodate all skill levels. Beginners can cut their tensile teeth in Chill classes that prop chakras up on sturdy tripods and review basic postures at an approachable pace. The Activate classes further develop strength and flexibility, while one- or two-hour Yoga Heat sessions spark a purgative inferno with athletic explorations of deep asanas and breathing techniques. A serene, communal studio space helps reduce the effects of stress and assists in cleansing the impurities garnered in spiritual mud-wrestling matches.
The recreational sailors at The Island Watersports maintain a fleet of sea-worthy vessels including safe, stable WindRider trimarans. During four-hour sailing stints, up to four people can pile onto the netted canopies and center cockpit to trade the buildings, highways, and Earth elementals of solid land for the freedom of the sea. One person chosen by the group to guide the craft receives a 15- to 20-minute lesson covering the basics of catching breezes for fuel and operating the foot-pedal steering controls. The tri-pronged craft supports up to 800 pounds, and the fully battened main sail on a rotating mast keeps the ship stable even during fish stampedes. MP3 players can belt out favorite songs when plugged into the boat's audio system, and guests are encouraged to bring along a small cooler filled with seaworthy beverages and snacks. Island Watersports' current sailing season will end in October but may go into November if weather permits and the boats don't get grounded for sneaking out to Make-Out Reef. The Island Watersports reopens for the next season on March 1.
Beal Street Bottle Club mixes an engaging cocktail of music, local art, and community, and invites visitors to add their own imbibe-able ingredients. A BYOB joint, the club invites patrons to bring favorite spirits, wines, or invisibility potions before augmenting libations with the bar's purchasable selection of mixers, ice, and non-alcoholic drinks. Local blues and jazz musicians, DJs, and other performers brandish their talents and hone their crafts on Beal Street's intimate stage. Carefully mixed sound levels envelop listeners without overwhelming ears, foregrounding each band member's contribution and packing the dance floor with rug-cutting revelers. Between sets, step outside of the Club’s red door and sample the wares of street-side food vendors or gossip of the city’s town crier.
The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music. On Sunday nights at the Fort Walton Beach location, a comedy show cranks up the revelry at 9 p.m. after the dueling pianos stop for a rest.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. The menu includes military specials and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 32-ounce booze buckets filled with fruit-flavored rum or other fruity libations. Honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
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.
Miller Cellars LLC's chief vintner and CEO Lynn Miller concocted her first batch of homemade wine in 2008, when she found a recipe for dandelion wine in Southern Living magazine. Ever since, she's worked tirelessly to improve her skills, and today, she shares them during hands-on classes that teach students how to make batches of wine and alcohol from scratch. Her business also provides yearly memberships, which grant aspiring vintners access to unlimited classes and discounted supplies.