The Tampa Bay Seafood Festival brings together local merchants and great music for a weekend of celebration that benefits the Friends of Tampa Recreation. Refreshments scheduled to make an appearance include award-winning chowder from Chowder Heads, crab bites and fish tacos from Coastal Crab Company, and Mama Jugs' tasty iced tea. Les Dudek headlines the musical schedule on Saturday, filling the air with his original blues tunes, and the melodious four-person harmonies from Mo' Gravy kick off Sunday's festivities, followed up by The Shakes Society, The Bobby Friss Band, and Doug the reggae seagull.
During the Backwoods Challenge, runners shimmy through a tunnel of mud, step across a balance beam, army-crawl under barbed wire, and shoot through a slide before plunging into a pond. And for some of them, there isn't even a prize on the line. In addition to frequent competitive races, Backwoods Challenge also hosts fun runs and mud-run training sessions. Either way, the 5K course, which pushes bodies and minds to the brink, forces participants to confront more than 25 obstacles that test their physical prowess. Only those who aren't afraid to get down and dirty in the mud can conquer all of the manmade and natural obstacles.
Snorkel with Manatees' expert divers lead tours on underwater sojourns to discover peaceful manatees and environs beneath the waves. Offering both group and mini manatee tours year-round, the guides monitor each diver to ensure safe practice with the animals. Their Crystal River scallops tour scours the ocean floor for tasty scallops while avoiding crabs auditioning for The Little Mermaid revival, and the Snorkel with Manatees excursions explore the Crystal, Homosassa, and Chassahowitzka Rivers on airboat. They also teach the fundamentals of their craft during discover scuba-diving lessons.
A glance up at the high canopies of TreeUmph! Adventure Course's 14 forested acres yields views of beautiful flora, birds, and... humans. Though the people aren't native to these trees, most of the activities here are set high up in the foliage, giving groups a chance to see what the birds see. Among the attractions, you can speed down the woods' biggest obstacle, the Triumph zip line: a 650-foot cable that starts 60 feet high and descends toward the forest floor. The five age-appropriate elevated courses here complement the low-height Climb-On course with flat, netted walkways, a zip line, and monkey bridges meant to challenge customers with progressively more difficult courses. After completing the first four courses, course-goers can be cleared to ascend to the Summit.
Then there's the most challenging Summit course, which features the park's most demanding obstacles. But these attractions aren't just designed to thrill: they're also designed to challenge, both mentally and physically, and to be entirely environmentally friendly. Aerial platforms are secured by compression rather than bolts, which allows the trees to continue growing unobstructed and roots are protected by winding trails and barriers.
During the Superhero Scramble, racers of all fitness levels tear across arduous terrain littered with body- and mind-challenging obstacles. Participants must wade through mud and, to reach the finish line, persevere through a barrage of Super Slime generously donated by retired Ghostbusters.
Upon completing the race, athletes ride their endorphin high into a party stocked with ice-cold beer. There, they can mingle with other contestants, sway to live music, and see awards doled out to the fastest runners in each age bracket. Male and female Scramble Gamble contestants compete for prizes that can cover the cost of replacing the engines in their sneakers. The benefits of the race extend beyond the Gamble winners, too—the organizers donate a portion of the proceeds to charity.
Visitors to Florida EcoSafaris get a close look at the state's distinct flora and fauna during thrilling outdoor adventures. The Coach Safari whisks riders on a two-hour open-air jaunt through a 4,700-acre wildlife-conservation area rich with streams and forests. Naturalist guides delve into the natural history of the region's nine ecosystems, which house species including alligators, Florida panthers, and herds of roving photo opportunities. Visitors can also take in sweeping views of the nearby wetlands and their many residents, including countless kinds of birds and white-tailed deer. For equestrian adventurers, safaris on horseback take riders through scenic trails used by Native Americans in the 1500s.
Florida EcoSafaris' EcoPark adds to its Cypress Canopy Cycle adventure-which sends visitors rolling along steel cables in a suspended, pedal-powered cart that doubles as a spy machine for squirrels-with five new and recently renovated zipline adventures. Guests fly high through the air at 30 miles per hour with the Peregrine Plunge and Zipline Safari or leap off 55- or 68-feet platforms during controlled-free-fall adventures. No matter what activity guests participate in, Florida EcoSafaris donates a portion of all proceeds to the Allen Broussard Conservancy, an agency dedicated to the preservation of Florida's ecosystems and wildlife.