During a round of golf in this region, it’s not uncommon for players to see the occasional alligator sunning itself on the banks of a fairway pond. The same, however, cannot be said for miniature-golf courses, unless you’re playing at Congo River Golf, where the civilized sinking of putts coexists with the visceral carnage of live-alligator feedings. More than 25 alligators wait for patrons to feed them morsels of gator food in an exhibit beside the course. Though the course offers no chance for an encounter with the ancient, scaly species, it enchants players with waterfalls, safari-themed artifacts, and towering rock faces. In addition, Congo River Golf encompasses an indoor arcade and a gemstone-mining station, where guests dig through dirt for fossils, arrowheads, and Neanderthal’s kindergarten time capsules.
Scores of synthetic lanes span the length of Lane Glo Bowl, hosting open hours and special events for groups and individuals throughout the week. Flat-screen TVs display scores high above each lane, leaving ample room in lounge areas for victory laps. Each Saturday, the alley takes on incandescent hues for cosmic bowling, and the on-site bar hosts a live DJ and karaoke stage. Lane Glo's bar hosts pool tournaments each Wednesday, and its on-site arcade brims with flashing lights from games including skee-ball and air hockey. Bowling clubs and leagues are available for adults, children, and seniors, as are private parties for birthdays or businesses still recovering from the bee-wrangling event at last year's company field day.
Stretching across two of the vessel's three decks, Sun Cruz Port Richey Casino offers its visitors something other casinos can't?stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. Aboard the flotilla, game lovers square off against more than 325 slot machines as the calm waters carry them along on a smooth jaunt. After a spirited round of roulette, gamblers can gambol around the decks for roulette and craps, or consult pods of dolphins for advice on winning three-card poker.
At Fish Magnet Fishing Charters, the magnetic force that brings hook and fish together is United States Coast Guard–certified Master Captain Janot B. Vilardell. Aboard his 18-foot fishing boat, he steers anglers into fishing hot spots along the Gulf of Mexico as well as inland waterways such as the Suwannee River. Once anchored, he shares tips and techniques for reeling in the big one: the plug to the ocean's drain. As an added bonus, he supplies all of the tackle and bait.
"We've got more canoes, kayaks and SUPs than fingers and toes to count them," Captain Wendy explains. "Also, two sailboats, eleven pontoons??all rentable. The funny thing is, this business came from a big accident." She's referring to the company?s inception in 2002, when a devastating hurricane led a friend to sign his company?s single sailboat over to Wendy and her husband, Bruce. "We were in marketing??then, suddenly, we were in boating." More than 12 years later, Windsong Charters & Boat Rentals has flourished under the duo?s stewardship. The company now performs 200 weddings each year and equips a wide range of patrons to revel in the breathless joy of cutting through playful zephyrs and out across the water. Wendy and Bruce encourage fishing and bringing pets on boating voyages, and the two share stories to delight guests or calm champagne bottles propped next to brand-new yachts. As propellers hum to life and paddles make a gentle kissing sound against the surf, visitors scan the horizon for the variety of wildlife that slips along just below the surf's surface or comes wheeling out of tufts of cumulonimbus. "I wish the animals would give us their schedules,? Wendy says, ?but, on a given day, you could see manatees, dolphins, stingrays, and lots of birds."
Shots of all caliber soar above a landscape of well-kept fairways lined with palm trees, cypress trees, and australian pine trees at Magnolia Valley Golf Club’s 18-hole, 6,600-yard course. The par 72 layout challenges golfers and evokes an appreciation for nature with sweeping views and flagsticks that recite transcendentalist poems. Before taking to the course, golfers can warm up swing muscles at the driving range, hone putting strokes at the practice green, or fuel up with food and drinks at the bar and grill. In addition to its championship layout, Magnolia Valley features a par 33 executive course for players looking to squeeze in a round before the sun sets and their golf bag turns back into a pumpkin.
Course at a Glance: * 18-hole, par 72 course * Length of 6,600 yards from the farthest tees * Course rating of 68.2 from the farthest tees * Slope rating of 121 from the farthest tees * Five tee options