The view of Florida wildlife from the lakeview terrace at The Lazy Gator Bar needs no food or drinks to make it worthwhile. Over buckets of beers and colorful mixed drinks resting on tables, the setting sun casts an orange-pink glow that adds a charming touch to the airboats coming in from a tour. This glow even makes Hammy look friendly––the 11-foot-long alligator who soaks in a pool at the live gator and bird exhibit adjoining Black Hammock Gift Shop. Waiters bring out bar snacks from the restaurant, while guests to linger over drinks as bands play live music on weekends.
When French native Joel Martin was young, his family moved to Africa. While there, Joel learned to stalk many jungle creatures including crocodiles with the help of his Malgache friends. Years later, in 1995, Martin packed up his own family and moved them to Florida, where the heat and humidity reminded him of his beloved childhood in Africa. Today he owns and operates Black Hammock Adventures and charters picturesque airboat rides on the gator-infested waters of Lake Jesup. His boat, equipped with Goliath's desk fan, skims earplugged riders past alligators and other lake fauna at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. During rides, experienced guides pilot the vessel safely through narrow creeks and shallow wetlands, and help tourists to spot sunning reptiles. After zooming by a congregation of gators, guests can stop by Black Hammock's wildlife exhibit, enjoy a lively libation at the Lazy Gator Bar, or hand over their cameras as they pose for pictures with Black Hammock's 12-foot-long alligator, Hammy, at his dockside cage or barter for an autograph with hunks of raw meat.
Don’t let the shepherd's pie, fish 'n' chips, and draft beers fool you. Though Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery snatches up the best cultural fragments of Scotland, England, and the Emerald Isle, the eatery started in Las Vegas. Restaurateur Mark DiMartino sought to combine the communal, rousing feel of pubs in the British Isles with the campy fun of American sports bars, pairing hearty food and traditional trappings with televisions and waitresses clad in mini kilts and alluring plaid halter-tops modeled after William Wallace’s eveningwear.
Since its founding, Tilted Kilt locations have popped up in 25 states and two Canadian provinces, serving all manner of hybrid dishes such as the Scottish cheese steak, the Sloppy Jane made with sliced turkey or shaved rib eye, and the Tilted Guilt, an ice-cream sundae perched atop a cookie.
With 3 Kings Hookah Lounge’s more than 75 flavors of shisha ready to fill visitors’ pipes, the task of selecting just 1 can be daunting. Luckily, a staff well-versed in matching taste to tobacco helps customers to sift through aromatic mélanges that range from traditional flavors such as mint and strawberry to bowls of real apple, orange, and pineapple pilfered from a nearby still life. Between puffs, teas, baked goods, and appetizers such as samosas and naan pizzas keep mouths occupied. Minds stay engaged with belly dancing on Fridays, games on Sundays, and themed nights throughout the week that pay homage to Bollywood and Latin flair.
Amid the melodies of nightly karaoke, Devaney's marries hearty pub fare with daily drink specials. Signature cocktails and beer—from breweries including Bell's, Lagunitas, Victory, and Stone—wash back burgers, sandwiches, and wings. A surfeit of sports décor represents various teams battling on the flat-screen TVs, which beam down on tabletops and bar seating filled with patrons cheering as their favorite mascot executes a perfect high-five. The bar further engages crowds with Wednesday-night bingo, Thursday-night trivia, and weekly live bands, who are only sometimes possessed by ventriloquist dummies.
When discussing his teaching philosophy with reporters from Central Florida Lifestyle, the owner of Salsa Heat quipped, "if you can walk, you can dance." He himself didn't know much about dancing when he took his first salsa class in the early 90's, but he caught on after just a few sessions, falling in love with the dance's energetic spins and rhythmic movements.
Today, a team of professional dance instructors teach salsa spins and footwork to students of all experience levels. Zumba and bachata classes provide tutoring in other Latin dance styles, and salsa classes for kids teach youngsters dance fundamentals that hone coordination and motor skills. Throughout the year, the staff hosts special events on their spacious dance floors, such as salsa socials, salsa Christmas parties, and salsa-infused celebrations of Robert Heinlein's birthday.
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