Sock-footed moppets scamper up springy steps before hurling themselves down a towering slide as crocodiles and lions hover nearby, but these tykes' parents don't blink an eye. Sprawled across Jungle Bounce's 15,000-square-foot space, this playground teems with air-filled amusements for kids to safely bounce and tumble across. Six inflatable edifices in brilliant colors shiver beneath youthful romping, all against a backdrop of cheery giraffes, penguins holding maps upside down, and other typical jungle scenes. Two inflatable arenas thump and squeak as little ones leap into the air, gambol around obstacles, and wander through a maze.
A digital chorus of beeping and whirring drifts from the arcade, where tots and their grownups can whack moles and launch balls to garner tickets to trade for prizes such as plastic trinkets and stuffed mascots. A snack shop refuels young ones with pizza and wings so they can return to open play sessions or try and mediate disputes between imaginary friends wearing the same outfits at hosted birthday parties.
Since the Maganias family opened the first Astro Skate Family Fun Center in Tarpon Springs more than 32 years ago, customers have flocked to the skate rinks for birthday parties, summer camps, and family-friendly fun. At each location, a live DJ cranks out danceable tunes as skaters wheel and glide across a huge lacquered wood floor. Off-rink, kids compete for redemption prizes at a host of arcade games, or take flight in the safe confines of a cushy inflatable bounce house. Astro Skate Family Fun Center keeps things fresh with a schedule of special events, including jump-rope contests, foam parties, and roller-derby matches.
Scores of synthetic lanes span the length of Lane Glo Bowl, hosting open hours and special events for groups and individuals throughout the week. Flat-screen TVs display scores high above each lane, leaving ample room in lounge areas for victory laps. Each Saturday, the alley takes on incandescent hues for cosmic bowling, and the on-site bar hosts a live DJ and karaoke stage. Lane Glo's bar hosts pool tournaments each Wednesday, and its on-site arcade brims with flashing lights from games including skee-ball and air hockey. Bowling clubs and leagues are available for adults, children, and seniors, as are private parties for birthdays or businesses still recovering from the bee-wrangling event at last year's company field day.
Staffed by a corps of chimp-loving volunteers working alongside veterinarians, the nonprofit Suncoast Primate Sanctuary provides a safe haven for more than 100 rescued animals. Chimpanzees and monkeys swing freely in their enclosures, living out their days after being moved from other environments, including zoos, sanctuaries, and research centers, or retiring from the film industry as animal actors and studio executives. During public hours, children and adults can wander among the menagerie to feed the monkeys and meet other critters such as orangutans, macaws, lemurs, and alligators.
Andrea Whiting, Arbordale Riding Academy's head instructor, draws upon 14 years of professional experience to teach budding equestrian all-stars. Andrea has served as a board member of the Tampa Horse Show Association and a member of the United States Equestrian Federation, a group known for supporting quality care and voting rights for prettier ponies. On the academy grounds, Andrea's students hop atop one of the outfit's carefully maintained horses to receive an introduction to the skills required for competition. Students can learn how to ride in the english style of saddle seat during lessons, and summer camps are also available. One of Andrea's most accomplished students won a National Championship title with the help of her tutelage, and two other horses and three riders who studied under her earned top ten World Championship ribbons.
Arbordale also offers full boarding facilities for steeds, providing all the bedding, grain, and blanketing their tired haunches require. Horses and their owners exercise on 15 acres with various turnout options, and take advantage of the facility's large outdoor arena, jumps, and full tack room.
Christy Jeffreys, lead instructor at Hoofprinted Hearts Farm, draws upon 21 years of equestrian experience each time she introduces a novice to the sport of horseback riding or engages a child's imagination during summer camps. Children, teens, and adults of all skill levels can enroll in the farm's lessons, which aim to instill self-confidence and respect for the maned mammals. As the instructor looks on and provides guidance, students learn to feed, bathe, and groom the horses in preparation for showing, a skill that is sure to come in handy when restoring old collections of My Little Ponies. Summer camps engage out-of-school children between the ages of 4 and 13 in daily riding lessons, horse-themed crafts, and human-themed camaraderie.