Cypress trees sway in the breeze, lush tropical vegetation soaks up the sunshine, and white sandy beaches glisten nearby as Buena Vista Watersports' rental jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, and pontoons tote adventurers across the spring-fed waters of Lake Bryan alongside waterskiers and wakeboarders. The Key West–style resort, located just east of Disney World, allows families and friends to glimpse local wildlife as they skim scenic shorelines and chase picturesque settings at an aquatic reservoir as vast and secluded as Bigfoot's bathtub. The resort's alighted tiki torches and palm trees that border its tiki bar and pavilion attract groups for company picnics or private events such as weddings and parties, during which revelers can partake in watersports, dance to reggae, or watch a fire-dancing show.
Imagine for a moment diving into the ocean, resurfacing with not only memories of the sub-aquatic environment, but a full reel of photographs, too. Underwater photography is just one of the many courses offered at Scuba Quest, a family-owned company that has shown students how to safely explore the seas for more than 25 years.
Scuba Quest began as a single shop, but has since spread to six locations across the state of Florida. At each, the company?s NAUI-certified instructors lead refresher courses, beginner classes, and comprehensive certification programs. Rather than climbing into fish tanks while pet-store clerks are on break, Scuba Quest's students can put their new skills to the test in unfamiliar waters during the company?s exotic diving excursions around the globe.
Jess and Dano Kinnee love cycling, whether on mountain or road terrain. Drawing on a lifetime of work in bike shops, Dano opened Greenway Bicycles to help spread his cycling pastime deeper into central Florida. Today his shop deals in a diverse array of bikes from Mongoose to Schwinn. As a certified bicycle mechanic, he can also perform tune-ups and install modifications on any bike, from adding new chains and trueing wheels to replacing the playing cards in the spokes. When cyclists need new gear, Greenway has a selection of bike gear from sunglasses to cycling shoes to choose from. The shop is also located right on a Florida Greenway trail, making it a convenient stop for cyclists before or during scenic rides.
At Castaway Scuba Adventures, owner Marta Mullen and her team of underwater aficionados have stood as gatekeepers to the ocean for the past ten years. Amongst her many personal accolades, Marta is a platinum instructor through Scuba Schools International (SSI), a globally recognized organization on par with the likes of PADI or NAUI. This means that Marta and her staff can effectively train students of all experience levels, including those seeking certification and those planning a blind date with a svelte piece of coral. Aside from instructional programs, every month Castaway Scuba Adventures organizes two or three local diving trips to complement its pair of annual international getaways.
Amid brick walkways and burnt-red walls, leaves rustle softly. Steam rises in the distance, then quietly disappears. One moment, this place emits smoky hints of cedar; the next, it teems with notes of ginger and cinnamon bark. This isn’t an idyllic college campus on a brisk autumn night. It’s Infusion Tea, a charming café on the balmy streets of Orlando. Sun streams through oversized windows, warming chilly scoops of gelato and triple-decker cream-cheese sandwiches. More than 70 types of tea—including blacks, greens, oolongs, and herbals—can be ordered hot or cool, like most jazz saxophone solos. Though they hail from faraway lands such as China, Japan, and South Africa, many of these teas are organic and fair-trade certified, reflecting values owner Christina Cowherd cultivated while traveling the world in the Peace Corps. Rare, premium teas such as gyokuro transport taste buds to new frontiers as well, whether nestled in a takeaway tin or steeped in a pot made for sharing in house.
Since 1989, Play It Again Sports has been buying and selling new and used sports and exercise equipment. They are keeping sports green, recycling gently used athletic equipment into new-to-you gear. Products from brands such as Nike, Adidas, Easton, Wilson, Nautilus and Schwinn, make up each store's enormous selection of new and recycled gear, which is replenished daily with goods for a wide selection of sports that ranges from baseball, golf, soccer to lacrosse and football. Treadmills and exercise bikes equip bodies with muscular suits of armor, and pintsize and adolescent equipment arms youngsters with protective padding until they eat enough bologna to grow muscles of their own. Knowledgeable staffers man each location, ready to answer questions, arrange gear deliveries or pick-ups. To ensure their stock remains robust, they also encourage athletes to collect their lightly used gear?including bicycles?and bring it into a local store to either sell or trade.