Situated on 2,200 acres of uncultivated Florida everglades, Billie Swamp Safari slakes swamp curiosities with swamp-buggy tours, airboat rides, and specialty wildlife shows. Customers can hop aboard an elevated swamp buggy for a 60-minute half-land and half-water eco-tour where they’ll careen through forested thoroughfares lined with lush vegetation and land-loafing bison, then drift down shallow waterways brimming with freshwater salt turtles and befuddled fish. With a one-day admission pass, swamp visitors can also skid through vegetation-rich swamp trails on an airboat or watch humans, snakes, and alligators interact at the animal and reptile shows, reigniting fond memories of childhood romps in Grandma’s basement cellar.
Grassland breezes swirl through the open-air Jeeps at Orange Jeep Tours, by Collier Adventures. Talking over the gusts, a knowledgeable tour guide rattles off historical facts and tidbits about the passing ecological sites. Each custom Jeep can hold up to six passengers and weave into hard-to-reach nature spots for intimate looks at animal behavior, such as a blue heron gulping down a fish, an alligator lurking just below the water, or a bald eagle reading The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
A trip to Classic Car Wash 2 doesn’t just lead to a cleaner ride. It helps car owners glow with pride as they drive down the street. During the shop’s signature service, the #3 Full-Service Ultra wash, staffers lather vehicle exteriors with care, blasting mud from the wheels before dressing them in a glossy sheen. A vacuum extracts debris from seats and trunks, and a window wipedown makes glass clear and sparkly, like a mountain stream brimming with tiara-clad damselfish. After drying each water droplet by hand, the crew applies a clear-coat protectant to ward off nicks and scratches. Customers can also choose from a variety of detailing services, including Lexol leather conditioning and Rain-X windshield treatments. Instead of crowning cars with whipped cream and sprinkles, staffers top off many services with an air freshener, available in scents such as orange citrus and wild cherry. They can also clean and lubricate engines with oil changes powered by Valvoline products. During any service, customers may kick back in the spacious lobby filled with complimentary coffee and a flat-screen TV.
Engines start to roar, propellers spin, and a large parachute expands into the sky, carrying a light aircraft and its passengers toward the clouds. Silver Lining Aviation's certified instructors create adventures like this every day as they teach visitors to soar behind the controls of sport aircrafts such as powered parachutes, weight-shift trikes, and gyroplanes. Led by licensed FAA flight instructor Craig Ewing, Silver Lining's team takes prospective pilots on introductory flights that allow them to experience aircrafts such as the Airwolf 912 and nibble on different flavors of clouds. The aviation experts also sell sport aircrafts, which patiently wait onsite as customers work through custom ground- and flight-training programs. In most cases, the flight instructors prepare their pupils for aerial navigation in as little as two weeks. They also assist new pilots with replacement parts, provide 24/7 support, and cook oil soup to feed hungry aircraft.
Nestled on 40 sprawling acres, 5 Star Stables & Tack’s knowledgeable staff welcomes tender-footed riders and experienced equestrians alike with English and Western lessons, myriad trail rides, and summer camps for kids. Roomy stables house resident steeds and boarding horses inside stalls equipped with air-circulating fans, automatic watering systems, and secret compartments where they can stash their Mr. Ed fan fiction. With two indoor arenas—one for hunter/jumper riders and one for riders wishing to simply practice the basics—equestrians can hone horse-top techniques year-round. Outside, a sprawling cross-country course, round pen, and access to more than 1,000 acres of trails provide seemingly endless options for mounted exploration, as well as new challenges for more advanced riders. The facility also offers clinics and in-house training for all skill levels and ages, and keeps riders and their mounts properly outfitted with an onsite tack shop.
Manatee Guides' conservation-minded experts escort kayakers throughout Southwestern Florida's waterways to observe manatees and other native species in their natural environments. During nature tours, guides lead guests throughout Estero Bay and the Orange River, scouring the crystalline waters for a sight of the peaceful animals. Guides point out local flora and fauna along the way, sharing interesting facts about their life cycles, social patterns, and affinity for fast food cheese-barnacles. Manatee Guides' owners and operators adhere to a strict conservation policy, leaving no trace of their journey in the wild. Up to 12 people venture out on each tour, and the guides encourage ample sunscreen and protective apparel such as a hat, shoes, and clothes that can get wet without melting.