Physically, celadon porcelain from the Ming and Qing Dynasties and a 13-foot skeleton of the giant ground sloth don’t have too much in common. But both explore how our world has evolved and how we perceive it—making both perfectly suited for display in the eclectic exhibits of the Museum of Arts & Sciences. The 100,000-square-foot museum—which perches on a 90-acre nature preserve—houses a planetarium alongside myriad exhibits that delve into art, history, and science.
The museum’s particularly impressive assembly of Cuban art draws visitors through 300 years of history with more than 200 rare maps, paintings, and ceramics. Nearby, the exhibit of Chinese art glimmers with gemstones, bronzes, and cloisonné. Visitors also peruse crafts made closer to home in the 4,000-square-foot gallery of American art, where portraits by Gilbert Stuart and landscapes by George Bonfield hang on walls, rather than on the traditional horse’s withers. In addition to its traditional art galleries, the Museum of Arts & Sciences also hosts more fragile objects inside the Helene B. Roberson Visible Storage Building, a 4,400-square-foot glass-fronted space designed to maintain exhibits in a climate-controlled state.
Younger museum-goers can gaze longingly at the 800 teddy bears on display in the Americana-focused Root Family Museum before heading to the Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum to explore ever-changing, hands-on science exhibits. In addition to assembling and testing model racecars, whippersnappers strum the 16 laser beams of a laser harp and try the "Pull Yourself Up" exhibit. Daily shows in the planetarium continue scientific education by unlocking the night sky’s mysteries, such as why stars don’t go out when you blow on them.
As one of the only dedicated art houses in Daytona Beach, Cinematique's all-digital theater and surround-sound system immerse theatergoers in national, international, and local independent flicks. In addition to the latest celluloid, Cinematique screens cultural events, pairs indie movies with live improv comedy, and hosts a Saturday-night showcase for local filmmakers, musicians, poets, and Oscar-statue impersonators. Through its Daytona Beach Film Festival, Cinematique supplies audiences with a vast assortment of movies, from internationally acclaimed directors to local and student filmmakers. The theater also illumes an inflatable screen with cinematic classics at free outdoor showings at Riverfront Park, commencing each film at dusk so patrons and cinephilic fruit bats can relish its crystalline picture quality.
During a round of golf in this region, it’s not uncommon for players to see the occasional alligator sunning itself on the banks of a fairway pond. The same, however, cannot be said for miniature-golf courses, unless you’re playing at Congo River Golf, where the civilized sinking of putts coexists with the visceral carnage of live-alligator feedings. More than 25 alligators wait for patrons to feed them morsels of gator food in an exhibit beside the course. Though the course offers no chance for an encounter with the ancient, scaly species, it enchants players with waterfalls, safari-themed artifacts, and towering rock faces. In addition, Congo River Golf encompasses an indoor arcade and a gemstone-mining station, where guests dig through dirt for fossils, arrowheads, and Neanderthal’s kindergarten time capsules.
Pirate's Island and Pirate's Cove plunge putters deep into a thicket of thieving pirates, buried treasure, and stowaways tangled in rigging. Players select an appropriately sized putting club and a golf ball of any color, asserting individuality while creating polychromatic turf art. Putt through two 18-hole courses (one at the Daytona Beach Shores location), skirting shimmering waterfalls that conceal skeletons and spelunking convocations behind translucent veils. The golf course abuts a glorious gift shop, and snacks are available for additional gold.
Lucky’s, a hybrid restaurant and fun-center, marries burgers, salads, and sandwiches with games such as bowling and billiards. Guests can eat their fill of entrees that include Cajun rib-eye steak and pan-seared shrimp while flinging orbs down 14 polished lanes. During bowling games the alley’s sound and lighting system evokes a dance-club vibe while a Qubica AMF scoring system keeps track of strikes and splits, enabling players to leave their CPAs at home.
Next to the bowling alley, more than 50 redemption, video, and novelty games challenge guests and include Lazer Frenzy, an interactive maze of light beams like the ones that guard a bank’s best ballpoint pens. Game credits earn prizes such as Legos, Nerf toys, and even Xbox 360s. Lucky’s keeps their atmosphere lively late into the night by hosting lounge events such as Karaoke Wednesdays and by having DJs spin on the weekend.