Originally branded as the Top Hat Drive-In, Sonic Drive In didn’t acquire its nationally recognized name until 1959—six years after its inception in 1953. Today, the franchise operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic Drive In specializes in made-to-order American classics, including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic Drive In’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: best value menu, best milk shake, and best drive-thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
The staff members at Sylvan Learning's numerous study facilities understand that each child learns differently. Therefore, they don’t try to implement a uniform tutoring system; instead, they use a four-step Sylvan Insight process to design custom lesson programs based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, one-on-one interviews.
Tutors work with students from kindergarten through grade 12, illuminating topics ranging from basic reading and writing to remembering complex algebraic formulas without having them tattooed on your chest. Many of Sylvan’s instructors work in local schools, so they are intimately familiar with common curricula and understand how to gear lessons toward optimal results. SylanSync technology complements in-person tutoring sessions, allowing kids to use iPads to further their learning. After-school and summer classes can ready high-schoolers for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college-admissions officers with their superior essay-writing skills.
The experienced guides at Tidewater Tours lead visitors throughout the Cedar Keys and Suwannee National Wildlife Refuges, giving them an up-close view of the tidal marsh eco-system and area wildlife. Their Suwannee River Tour explores the swampy environment of the famed waterway?immortalized in Florida's state song?and the Coastal Marsh tour takes passengers along a route that other boats rarely travel so they can spot migratory shorebirds with the help of Captain J. Michael O'Dell, a National Audubon Society member. And the Island Tour adventures to the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge islands, where dolphins, birds, and sea turtles can sometimes be seen, depending on the season and whether the animals are on their lunch breaks.
The captains helm the Megan June, whose shallow draft allows it to go where other boats can't, and the Princess Annie, a handicap-accessible vessel that can hold up to 34 passengers. And those who'd like to go off on their own explorations can rent a pontoon or skiff boat.
American Pro Diving Center helps visitors and locals explore the clear, teeming waters of Florida with year-round manatee tours and diving adventures. All-equipment-included manatee snorkel tours in Crystal River or winter expeditions to Homosassa River let snorkelers rub flippers with the rivers' large population of resident sea cows. In-water guides keep the experience safe and fun for both manatees and people, and snorkelers swim in between the gentle creatures, giving them a gentle pat or a canister of whisker wax.
For deeper subterranean adventures, the center offers classes that range from Discover Scuba Diving to full PADI open-water certification, in addition to specialty courses on rescue and wreck diving. Divers can plunge into one of seven diving excursions, including night dives in Rainbow River or mermaid line dancing in the lost city of Atlantis.
For the past 50 years, lodging luxury resort Plantation on Crystal River has resided on 232 acres of lush preserve land, between the Nature Coast of Florida and the Gulf of Mexico. Surrounded by natural springs stemming from King's Bay, the grounds brim with exotic wildlife such as osprey, grey-horned owls, and 400 migratory West Indian manatees that—like water wings that have not yet molted—people can swim with on a seasonal basis.
Nestled on these verdant grounds, the eco-friendly institution The Spa at Plantation pampers and relaxes frames with services powered by botanical Aveda products. Patrons settle into salon chairs for cuts and color or relax as Vichy showers gently flow over their backs during body treatments. The onsite massage therapist kneads away tension while balancing chakras or places hot stones on limbs.
Captain Bear Smith leads intrepid crews of up to four guests on fishing charters down the scenic Crystal River. Forgoing the need for GPS or inquisitive text messages to Aquaman, amateur anglers can rely on Captain Smith's 15 years of experience as he guides his specially modified vessel on a four-hour excursion. Guests use the provided bait and tackle to attract a wide range of species including redfish, cobia, gag grouper, and mangrove snapper—click here to see stellar examples of past voyages' catches. Guests should bring a light jacket, sunscreen, a packed lunch, and a container to take home any caught fish. Start times will vary depending on the customers’ desired catch and fishes’ erratic lunch schedules.