Two decades ago, a strip mall, parking lot, and acres of invasive plants stood on this land, hosting crowds of shoppers bustling through their daily routines. Now, serene greenery has once again reclaimed the expanse, replacing the concrete and metal with 170 acres of flourishing gardens and pine flatwoods. Naples Botanical Garden's 90-acre preserve is home to seven ecosystems, including untouched forests, marshes, and mangroves, where hundreds of animal species and more than 300 species of native and exotic plants dwell.
Cultivating a diverse array of subtropical flora, the seven garden habitats enchant and educate adults and children alike. Visitors meander along 2.5 miles of walking trails, dropping into the Lea Asian Garden to admire a northern Thailand riverside scene and relax at the Balinese--temple water garden, spying on frogs trying to have a conversation with their own reflections. Throughout the Kapnick Caribbean Garden, guests stroll beneath a vine-covered arbor and through the coconut grove, which showcases plants from Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific that had great economic impact on the islands. Wee ones splash in jets of water in the Smith's Children’s Garden, where they can visit a butterfly house, caper about treehouses, and drop by the healthy-eating garden to ask organic vegetables why there are no mummies in the food pyramid. In addition to engaging the senses, the botanical gardens enlightens minds of all ages with myriad educational programs and events.
Named after a Sanskrit word that means both “power” and “child,” Bala Vinyasa Yoga teems with poses that are as athletic as they are playful. Experienced teachers draw upon Baron Baptiste’s holistic approach to yoga instruction, which aims to transform the body and clear the mind of clutter such as stress and extremely misplaced gym socks. The studio’s all-levels Power Vinyasa classes challenge students with deep, focused breaths that link arm stands, backbends, and seated poses to create a flowing, dance-like routine. Slow Flow Restorative sessions, on the other side of that coin, move at a more leisurely pace as they open joints with lengthy poses, which, like eulogies read by Carrot Top, are supported by props. To bolster their home-based yoga practice, students can purchase mats and props at the studio’s boutique or practice stretches and bends with its live-streamed classes. Dedicated to comfort and relaxation, the boutique also carries calming lavender eye pillows and cozy apparel from lululemon athletica, Zobha, and I Love Yoga.
The beauty professionals at Trim and Tone Spa keep bodies spry and lively with a variety of noninvasive and FDA-approved services, from body-contouring wraps to detoxifying footbaths. Owner Shelle Misiorowski brings expertise in Exilis and VelaShape therapies that smooth cellulite and slim the physique without requiring hours of exercise or corset lacing. The spa also pumps up the volume and length of natural lashes with eyelash extensions, beautifies visages with customized facials, and bronzes skin with sunless VersaSpa spray tans that can last for up to seven days, like a championship-level staring contest.
Reel Kind Fishing charters boats on which adventurers explore backwater wetlands, protected freshwater, and saltwater regions that are home to diverse marine life. Along with licensed and experienced captains, the company supplies rods, reels, tackle, and bait, ensuring that even novice fishers can participate. Tour-takers might nab snook, redfish, spotted seatrout, and tarpon, the four of which can be housed together in a jumbo aquarium for a fish reality show, as long as a sassy blowfish joins the mix. Each boat seats up to three people for half-days, three-quarter days, or full days, with the vessels heading either inshore or offshore near the Gulf of Mexico. Explorers might bring a hat, sunglasses, snacks, and jackets, according to the weather, and smocks depending on how neatly their co-tourists can eat.
After accumulating more than 14 years of Pilates experience at other fitness venues, Helen Wagner opened The Pilates Scoop to provide affordable Pilates equipment classes. The Pilates method works to tone the body’s core without adding bulk, ensuring that students don't emerge looking like a football player who just ate a medicine ball. The pulleys, cables, and springs of Reformer and Cadillac machines extend and contract as students tone their stomachs, backs, hips, buttocks, and knees.
Helen caps equipment classes at no more than six students, and also leads private, duet, and triples lessons to provide more tailored instruction. She also teaches classes in traditional Pilates methods incorporating mats, chairs, and the high ladder barrel.
The instructors at Masterpiece Mixers Paint & Party Studio supply the canvases, paints, and brushes, requiring visitors to bring only their creativity. At studios located around Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and Massachusetts, they lead all-level painting classes that last up to 1.5 to 3 hours and focus on subjects ranging from the natural, such as birds and flowers, to still-life guitars, vases, and wine bottles. In some themed sessions, instructors also teach groups to paint abstract pieces or create their own variations on famous landscape paintings that, unlike the originals, can include dinosaurs. Some sessions follow a special date-night structure. At every location, the staff members encourage visitors to bring their own wine, beer, and snacks if desired.