Giant toy soldiers clothed in thousands of colored lights wave at passersby as glowing reindeer take off into the dusk. Towering Christmas trees topped with stars glimmer and glisten with blue and green fiber optics. At Santa's Enchanted Forest, one of the world’s largest Christmas-themed amusement parks, holiday spirit and festive music fill the air long before the end of December. Visitors laugh and shriek on a multitude of carnival rides, including whirling swings, bumper cars, tower drops, and roller coasters, whipping through the air until their cheeks are as rosy as old Saint Nick’s. Traditional carnival games are also on hand, such as dart tosses and soccer-ball kicks, to complement more unconventional carnival amusements such as giant plastic balls to roll around in and a rock-climbing wall to scale. Wee visitors, meanwhile, can make the acquaintance of small livestock in a petting zoo or draw a portrait of their favorite goat in royal costume on a wall-size coloring-book mural. Carnival food, such as barbecue, pizza, and cinnamon donuts, fuels guests as they conquer rides or take in the Cats of the World Tiger Show, the Cirque Equinox, or the Sea Lion Splash Spectacular.
Though roller skating may be symbolic of life in the '50s, the staff at Super Wheels Skating Center has incorporated the tunes, TVs, and technology of today to bring this American pastime in to the 21st century. DJs spin a choice of more than 400,000 songs through the rink’s digital sound equipment, serenading guests as they show off their moves and finally embrace their wheel transplant. In order to offer more than just skating, the staff created a super arcade filled with interactive games and sprinkled the facility with 20 high-definition TVs and five giant screens that broadcast entertainment as well as live texts from guests and overprotective mothers.
Outside of open-skate hours, the rink puts on a range of events, including private parties, beginning and pro skating lessons, and special times for skaters 11 and younger. The facility’s concession stand offers food for all ages, including futuristic Dippin’ Dots, fried appetizers, Latin pastries, and pitchers of O’Doul's.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum began in 1956, when train enthusiast William J. Godfrey chanced upon the miles of abandoned railroad track snaking through the pineland of University of Miami’s southern campus. He imported a newly retired steam engine to the premises, and a tribute to railroading history began.
Now in a new location in Miami proper, the museum continues to honor trains’ role in American history, with nine exhibits on locomotives, passenger cars, and the Richmond’s Naval Air Station’s fleet. Visitors can hop aboard a full-size diesel locomotive passenger coach, or take a ride a miniature children’s railroad that’s ideal for transporting shipments of Lincoln logs. Alternatively, they can run motorized or free-wheeling trains through a model railroad, which zips through mountain tunnels and circles around to-scale landscapes.
Thanks to a generous $35 million donation, the Miami Art Museum is now called the Perez Art Museum Miami, and has a shiny new home to match the label change. The Museum serves as the anchor to new 29-acre Museum Park, which overlooks glimmering Biscayne Bay. The updated digs were designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architects Herzog & de Meuron and are dedicated to international art of the 20th and 21st centuries, laid out across three stories. At more than triple the floor space of their previous home, the Perez is modern and contemporary, housing more than 1,300 works across a range of media. There is also Verde, a lovely waterfront restaurant and bar, where the menu is locally-inspired and created with seasonal ingredients.
For 20 years, Donna Mole woke up at 4 a.m. to get her horses ready for a full day of riding, managing up to 50 horses at once as she trained jockeys and groomed thoroughbreds for racing. After that, she switched gears, choosing instead to watch the sun rise in such places as Kenya, France, Ireland, and Australia as she taught students who desired to see the world from the saddle. Headquartered in Florida at her own ranch, At Ascot Farm, Donna?along with her right-hand equestrians Carissa Baskett and Charlotte Harris?works with both adults and children as young as two, tailoring to the needs and personal goals of each student as they learn to develop proper riding to avoid a fall.
Inside the massive Kendall Ice Arena, skaters from across the blade-running spectrum hone their skills in programs for hockey players, figure skaters, and beginners just finding their ice legs. Students can start out in the arena's US Figure Skating Basic Skills Program, which helps novices develop a foundation strong enough to support Olympic dreams or applications for Antarctic citizenship. The curriculum then branches off into special classes, including offerings for hockey, figure skaters, and synchronized pairs. When class is out of session, the rink slings open its doors to the public, filling up with families, first dates, and other glide-enthusiasts.