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Sailing smoothly since its maiden voyage last fall, the 155-foot Jacks or Better Casino harbors more than 180 ticket-operated slot machines, which allow bettors to digitally select the stake of each spin (from $.01 to $25). Chomp chicken tenders ($5) or a hot dog ($3) and examine the table games found on deck, featuring blackjack, craps, roulette, three-card poker, and baccarat ($5 to $1,000 limits), or place a wager on the ship's virtual sportsbook, which supplies betting options for collegiate and professional contests across the globe.
Though they're certainly adept at standing still, buildings and monuments present their own set of challenges for people trying to take pictures of them. To surmount these complications, the professional photographers at ShutterGuide set out on two-hour walking tours, teaching groups how to best frame the landmarks on their route. For each site, they demonstrate a different camera technique that suits the landscape, such as adjusting the composition or keeping photo-bombing statues out of the frame. Guests can capture snapshots with nearly any type of lens—even the one on their smartphone.
The tours cover photography topics from lighting to metering and depth of field, but they're also a lesson in history. During the walk, guides dole out trivia on the city's past. They take a maximum of eight people in every group and accommodate aspiring shutterbugs of all skill levels.
When Winkie and Ron Woxberg moved to the St. Johns River basin in 1979, they immediately fell in love with the area, and it’s easy to see why. The gently flowing river's cypress- and oak-lined banks house myriad forms of wildlife, including manatees, alligators, bald eagles, osprey, and limpkins. Some two decades later, the Woxbergs decided to share the area’s natural beauty with newcomers by starting St. Johns River Cruises. The US Coast Guard–certified couple expertly navigates their specially commissioned vehicle, the Nature II, through the shallow channels of the river basin during daily tours. As the ship putters along at unhurried speeds, its quiet engines make barely any noise, allowing the sweet sounds of singing birds and the unskilled beat-boxing of beached sirens to reach the ears of passengers.
The St. Johns River, edged with tall trees, teems with wildlife year round; gators and visiting winter manatees swim beneath its surface while herons and cranes stoically stalk their fishy prey above. Thanks to Blue Heron River Tours, you can get an up-close glimpse of these sights in the company of a pontoon boat named Great Blue and coast-guard-certified captains named Gary Randlett and Todd Hilton. Tours glide past a manatee refuge at Blue Spring State Park before entering an old cypress-logging canal that leads into the Hontoon Dead River. Along the way, the captains fill the air with an interactive narrative on river history, flora and fauna, and humans' impact on the area, giving plenty of opportunities for photo ops and hard-hitting interviews with local eagles.