When Brian McInerney reflects on the humble beginnings of Wheel Fun Rentals, he points to his childhood passion for bikes. "As far back as I can remember, I had a real love affair with bicycles," he recalls. During a trip to Italy in 1987, Brian's affinity for cycling blossomed into a full-fledged obsession when he spotted locals' transporter of choice, the surrey. Inspired, he began importing the Italian four-wheelers to a rental business in the U.S. that eventually expanded into Wheel Fun Rentals, now a nationwide web of shops that also loans out bikes, electric cars and mopeds, and man-powered watercraft. Atop bicycles and surreys built for solo riders or entire families, patrons embark on self-guided tours of major U.S. cities. Led by maps and lists of nearby sites of historical or cultural significance, riders zoom down bike paths and safe, lightly trafficked streets. Adventuresome athletes can also compete in activities such as surrey scavenger hunts and blindfold obstacle courses navigated via shouted instructions from a seeing teammate or exceptionally long rounds of trial and error.
A pirate ship hangs suspended in midair. Tennis balls rocket toward the ceiling. Plastic robots jolt to life. Recipient of a 2008 MetLife Foundation award for promising practices, Great Explorations Children's Museum incites creativity and inventiveness from visitors of all ages with a constantly rotating lineup of interactive exhibits that fill 18,000 square feet with touch, light, and sound. Pulley towers allow children to hoist themselves into the air, and a mock fire station thrills wee visitors with a fire engine, child-sized firefighters' gear, and microscopic dalmatians. Museum guides lead lesson programs in a multidisciplinary style, though visitors can also find the friendly professionals and their orange polo shirts bouncing between exhibits while performing science experiments, dancing, and playing music.
Themed events let visitors discover the museum's potential through focuses such as "Superhero Saturday," "Slightly Spooky Boo!seum," and "Winter Wonderland," and seasonal camps explore annual topics such as the life cycle of a bunsen burner.
Tampa Bay Crawls escorts trekkers through downtown St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay’s culinary and alcoholic offerings with tasting and imbibing events at area restaurants and bars. Progressive dinner and restaurant crawls supply guests with new gastronomic sensations, and wine-tasting crawls dispense samples of finely crafted reds and whites. Bypassing straightforward tours through local bars, Tampa Bay Crawls spices up its pub crawls with various themed and costumed sessions, such as ’80s night, snuggie night, and census taker appreciation night, all open to groups and solo crawlers alike.
The founders of St. Petersburg probably didn't imagine future visitors rolling down its streets on upright, self-balancing machines. Mounted on Segway HTs, visitors on All About Fun Tours can do just that, cruising along the waterfront on devices that intuitively respond to their movements or fear of jellyfish. Tour options abound, and guides deliver a tutorial on Segway basics before leading groups around the historic city.
Aboard The Pirate Ship at John's Pass, sailors do not walk the plank—they limbo underneath it. Limbo contests are commonplace aboard the boat's daily two-hour cruises, all of which showcase the lighter side of pirate life. Crewmembers don costumes as they entertain guests with stories and dance performances, keeping their eyes peeled for dolphins in the waters of Boca Ciega Bay. The immersive experience gives passengers a taste of pirate culture—face paint helps them blend in, treasure hunts test their scavenging skills, and water-gun battles safely gauge their aim. Each cruise also awards its passengers with complimentary soda, wine, or beer. For those celebrating special occasions such as birthdays and family reunions, private charters reserve the entire boat. The captain can even perform wedding ceremonies, saving couples the trouble of finding a minister who can dog-paddle to them.
Looking out at the quiet, moonlit waters of the Gulf of Mexico, it’s impossible to know what’s on the line, other than that it’s big. Word has spread around the deep-sea-fishing boat, and now a crowd has gathered on either side of you. You pull the fishing pole back and guide whatever is snagged on the other end of the line nearer and nearer. The splashes gradually become louder. A few fellow fishermen help pull the creature onto the boat, and proudly hold the fish up for the crowd.
There are countless deep-sea-fishing tales like this one to be told at Hubbard’s Marina. During its many day or night fishing trips, its crew and guest fishermen board the US Coast Guard–certified vessels for excursions into the Gulf to reel in fish of all sizes. Not only does Hubbard's Marina offer fishing trips, but they also allow opportunities for people to visit and observe Florida wildlife in their natural habitat. Animals such as dolphins, pelicans,manatees, and bald eagles can bee seen from the boat. After cruises, visitors can go shopping along the picturesque boardwalk and enjoy the local culture and history in the quaint fishing village.
They also captain sunset cruises, dolphin-watching cruises, kayak tours, rent kayaks and paddle boards, and even take to the streets during segway tours.
LED lights glimmer in the dark, illuminating St. Petersburg's scenic streets. As the lights loom closer, they reveal a steel behemoth whose deck is serving as a stage for neon-clad '80s pop stars cycling in tandem and one lone acrobat steadying himself for a mid-motion keg stand. Though this doesn't happen every night, Rhett Reynolds and Daniel O'Brien have hosted several strange occurrences ever since they moved their pedal-bus pub crawls from the Twin Cities to sunnier climes. City Cycle Tours' four-wheeled, pedal-powered bus was designed and contracted by an independent engineering company and transports 14 passengers past the city's scenic sights and to an array of drinking establishments.
The blue-and-silver craft coasts along with minimal passenger effort at no more than 6 miles per hour as participants sit beneath a pounding six-speaker sound system and wide canopy, safe from the eyes of bird paparazzi. Dual 66-liter coolers carry riders' nonalcoholic libations, but the craft also boasts enough room to accommodate a half keg. Groups roll along guided by LED blinkers and headlights, kept buoyant with full suspension. The company's designated drivers hold taxi licenses and reflect a cabbie's knowledge of road etiquette and avoiding jousting matches as they ferry their charges through city parks and along piers.