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.
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.
Located on 50 acres of land in Clewiston, The Florida Ridge Air Sports Park gives guests unlimited opportunities to indulge in airborne activities. Winds from the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf Coast converge to create favorable soaring conditions for hang-gliding, paragliding, and controlled umbrella flights. The park also offers pilot-training programs and equipment rentals for expert windsurfers.
Bowland Centers specialize in family entertainment, boasting multiple lanes and modern scoring systems that add a degree of leisure to any frame. Lanes are equipped with kid-friendly pop-up bumpers and spacious seating areas—the prime place to lace up a fresh pair of shoes ($3.25 per pair). Play game by game ($4.25 per game) or rent a lane by the hour ($16 before 6 p.m., $20 after 6 p.m.) while taking in the symphony of pin-knocks and hand-fives. En route to the semi-perfect game, guests can also stop by Nemo's Sports Cafe, which features ample amounts of eats and drinks, big screens televisions, and people who know your name, because you typed it up on the scoreboard.