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.
With multiple locations throughout northwest Florida, Helen Back Cafe does its best to ensure that cold drinks and hot comfort foods are always nearby. The eateries' signature items are its hearty pizzas. These hand-tossed pies won the 2012 reader' choice poll for Best Pizza in Emerald Coast Magazine, and Esquire urged readers to visit and, "eat the best pizza you've ever shoved in your sunburned face."
With 17 toppings available?including everything from meatballs and jalape?os to chicken and onion?patrons are able to build their own custom pie from scratch. A small selection of sandwiches and other classic finger foods round out the menus, giving visitors snacks to nibble as they enjoy a frosty beer or cocktail from the bar and listen to the live bands on select Friday and Saturday evenings.
For Helen Back Cafe, keeping customers happy is almost as important as giving back to the communities it serves. The staff regularly provides donations to charitable causes, and Helen Back Cafe proudly supports The Special Ops Warrior Foundation, which helps the dependents of fallen soldiers continue advancing their educations.
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.
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.
Just off the beach, a man floats over the water, suspended in the air by streams of water jetting from his hands and feet as though he were testing an Iron Man?inspired apparatus. This back-mounted pack?called a Flyboard?works through a propulsive system that continually intakes and rapidly expels water, pushing the rider into the air or wherever he or she directs it to fly. The Flyboard, along with aqua trikes, WaveRunners, pontoon boats, kayaks, and standup paddleboards, comprise the unique rental fleet of Power Up Watersports. With these advanced watercrafts, Power Up?s team hopes to evolve Destin?s watersports scene, which includes plans to train the area?s dolphins to serve drinks.
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.