A towering wine rack spans an entire wall and glimmers with more than 1,000 bottles. Across the room, a lineup of nitrogen-regulated Enomatic machines dispenses samples from 80 wines to be sipped, swirled, and theatrically spit while reclining on a leather sofa, or while sitting at the long wooden bar. Small, shareable plates populate Sarasota Vineyard's menu in the forms of cheeses, roasted olives, and prosciutto-wrapped figs, ideal for pairing with wines or barley pops from a list of 20 beers.
For one weekend every April, Port Richey transforms into Pasco Paddlepalooza, a man-powered boat festival comprising three races. The festival's crown jewel is the Durney Key Challenge: a 2.3-mile race that challenges paddlers to slalom around turn-of-the-century stilt houses that stud the open water. The Salt Springs Alliance Classic and Battle in the Bayou focus on more straightforward feats: open-water kayaking and dragon boating, respectively. Though it sounds like a race between two beautiful dragons in boats, dragon boating is executed by humans rowing traditional Chinese boats, traveling in two side-by-side columns.
But there's plenty to do on land, too. The festival also encompasses a craft beer festival, and abuts well-maintained campgrounds, where visitors commune comfortably with the outdoors, much like homeowners who leave their windows open for the neighborhood squirrels.
At Wentworth Golf Club, golfers are treated to two distinct modes of golf course design within one 18-hole layout. The front nine showcases a classic parkland setting, complete with towering forests of pine, oak, and cypress trees. Play opens up significantly as players make the turn, where they emerge from the woods and embark on a back nine that bears more resemblance to the traditional links courses found in Scotland. The course bunkering is another feature that resembles golf's birthplace, as more than 100 bunkers litter the course and give players plenty of opportunities to scrawl letters of encouragement for golfers behind them in the sand.
Course at a Glance * 18-hole, par 71 course * Total length of 6,459 yards from the back tees * Course rating of 71.4 from the back tees * Course slope of 144 from the back tees * Link to scorecard
The joint vision of husband and wife team Joseph and Diana Marks, Tarpon Springs Castle Winery transports visitors to Old-World Europe, where each bottle of wine is handcrafted, from the crush to the label. Modeled after an 1820 federal building, the winery's Italian style walled-in courtyard, fountains, and wrought-iron gazebo take visitors back in time, but then quickly send them forward again before they have time to un-invent electricity. Trips to the colorful tasting room give visitors a chance to sip wines that range from a clean, fruity blush to a dry, oaked cabernet sauvignon.
Every Sunday, patrons of the Palm Harbor House of Beer can go head to frothy head with Randall the Enamel Animal, a singular beer-infusing machine developed by Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. The specially created tap can cram pints of beer with extra flavor from added hops, coffee beans, fruit, or even singles' phone numbers. This quirky contraption caught the attentions of a reviewer from the Tampa Bay Times, who hailed the bar as a "haven for beer nerds" during American Craft Beer Week in 2011. Patrons can also pick their poison from a lineup of 50 craft-beer taps from breweries such as Brooklyn and Flying Dog, along with local hopmasters Cigar City and Swamp Head. The bar's website takes care to keep the tap list updated frequently?allegedly to the minute?because, as co-owner A. J. Bubolz told the Palm Harbor Beacon, "three days from now, 25 percent of those will be different."
Reporters at this bimonthly lifestyle magazine sift through the local dining, art, and social scenes to present the gems to readers on glossy, colorful pages. Each issue carries an expansive dining guide that curates the city's culinary landscape, turning readers on to chic new bistros, hidden gems, and bars that have the most elegant spittoons.