On many mornings in 1930, surrounded by the chirping of birds, Pulitzer Prize-winning Dutch author Edward Bok could be found in his studio at the base of a 205-foot art-deco, neo-Gothic tower. Today, visitors to Bok Tower Gardens, a National Historic Landmark, can take in the sights and wander the more than 50 acres of meandering gardens sculpted by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr.
Visitors roam through shaded clearings and child-friendly gardens filled with vine-covered arbors and butterfly- and bird-watching areas, such as the Window By The Pond observatory. Paths wind past cold-resistant and semi-tropical ferns, palms, and pines, and vibrant explosions of azaleas, camellias, and magnolias that caretakers lovingly re-paint each morning. Among the trees stands Pinewood Estate, a Mediterranean-style mansion that welcomes seasonal tour groups into its rooms. In the gift shop, visitors peruse mementos such as historical books and decorative, nature-themed jewelry. The gardens sprawl through the Pine Ridge Nature Preserve, where a 3/4-mile path lets visitors glimpse rare plants and endangered animals such as the indigo snake and gopher tortoise. Gardens staff protect these grounds from fire damage, preserve plantings by collecting seeds, and reintroduce native species by organizing singles’ mixers.
In more than 100 locations around the country, ThrillZown's staff facilitates adrenaline-filled excursions full of extreme water, air, and land adventures. Under the supervision of experts, brave souls defy gravity as they skydive, hang-glide, bungee jump, or play films of apples falling off trees in reverse. On land, crews harness the power of horses, stock cars, and snowmobiles; in the water, groups navigate whitewater rapids or explore aquatic depths as they scuba dive or surf.
Nicole Almeida has been dancing since she was two years old and competing since she was nine. As owner of the newly inaugurated Studio 6 Academy of Dance, Almeida seamlessly blends her competitive dance background with her fitness training experience and education in exercise science and nutrition to offer students a place to fuel their passions for dance and fitness. Almeida strives to instill self-confidence and discipline in students of all ages as she, along with her team of instructors, leads a variety of dance classes including hip-hop, jazz, and ballet. Fitness courses include Zumba, yoga, Pilates, and P.U.S.H. boot camp, which combines group-exercise classes with personal training.
Curves trades in competitive rows of workout equipment for a circle of hydraulic resistance machines designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. During 30-minute circuit classes, trainees form a convivial circle as they rotate from machine to machine, timed by a soundtrack of fun, upbeat music. Health-minded toe-tappers can attend eight classes of the new Curves Circuit with Zumba Fitness, which mixes Zumba dance moves with resistance exercises to create a muscle-toning combo that's almost as fun as your Jane Fonda salsercise tapes.
With free wine tastings all day Monday through Saturday and beer tastings on Tuesday nights and Saturday afternoons, Tapping The Vine lubricates taste buds with its extensive collection of lesser-known libations and globally imported specialty wines and craft beers. Browse aisles brimming with fermentation favors and malted liquid gold while the friendly staff offers helpful suggestions to determine if customers' palates might prefer the tarty taste of a Wallace Brooks pinot gris ($16) or the bittersweet chocolatey Charles Smith Velvet Devil merlot ($16), among other white, red, and dessert wines. Barley buffs can analyze the feel of various brews, such as the flavorful Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar ($6.99) and organic Scarecrow golden pale ale ($4.69). Like the mouths of famous rappers, Tapping The Vine wouldn't be complete without an assortment of accessories, including professional-grade bottle openers ($9) and champagne stoppers ($5).
Nestled on the shores of the eponymous southern Florida lake, Lake Okeechobee Resort is an ideal base camp for outdoor recreation. Popular pursuits here include bass fishing, boating, and hiking or bicycling along a segment of the 1,400-mile Florida Trail that wends around the lake’s perimeter. You can set off into the lake from the resort’s 100-slip marina. From its location on the southeastern side of the lake, the resort has a spot to watch sunsets over the water.
For those camping, Lake Okeechobee Resort has especially long lots for oversized RVs or sleeping bags designed for giraffes. An onsite restaurant, public bathrooms, and pool take the edge off of roughing it while staying at the campground or in the cabins.