The Alliance for the Arts' concerts, exhibitions, and art classes have become a staple for the aesthetically inclined since the institution's founding in 1975. The center’s three art galleries elicit awe with ongoing exhibits, and its educational programs inspire students to express their feelings through painting and drawing. The Alliance’s schedule of events keeps fans of the performing arts intrigued with plentiful music festivals and dance recitals.
Shell Factory and Nature Park's 18-acre grounds hold diverse attractions for all ages, including a nature park with more than 350 animals, a seashell replica of All Saints Church, and the sprawling Doggy Heaven dog park. At the 2.5-acre nature park, visitors come face-to-face with animals from across the globe, including alligators, raccoons, Middle Eastern geckos, and indigenous aquatic life. Birds soar overhead in the aviary and tortoises roam freely, waiting for guests to feed them snacks and listen to their stories about growing up during the Hoover presidency. Children can ruffle the coats of goats and sheep at the petting farm or toss a gator biscuit to hungry 7'–9' alligators.
At the fun park, feed fish from inside a paddleboat, collide into one another on bumper boats, and compete in 18-hole games of mini-golf. The park’s Doggy Heaven abounds with open spaces in which pups can swim and run around; dogs are welcome into most attractions at the Shell Factory and Nature Park, including some of the various cafes, which serve dog treats alongside human eats.
The Shell Factory retail shop houses a stunning collection of seashells, coral, and fossils for visitors to take home. Its year-round Christmas shop houses yuletide collectables, even in the summer months. While on the premises, guests can ferret out pirate treasure at the Pirates' Cove or explore a large display of taxidermied animals.
Co-organizers and instructors David Maki and Paul Rodino provide an extensive curriculum to help fledgling shutterbugs capture visual transcendence. Students can learn to adjust the aperture, shutter settings, lens toupee, and program modes on a digital SLR camera in the Photo 102 class, designed for novice shot snappers wielding their first single-lens-reflex devices. Photo 103 picks up where its predecessor leaves off, stirring in the finer points of image composition and properly lighting subjects to make them appear translucent. Classes vary from week to week, so keep checking the calendar; past courses have covered table-top studio lighting and communicating with lenses via conversational Latin.
Rhythm In Motion’s staff of twirling professionals brings forth extensive skills in everything from salsa to ballet to the foxtrot. The instructors teach the secrets of graceful movement to students of all levels during group lessons or private lessons for individuals or couples. A 90-minute practice party on Fridays then encourages students to practice newly learned moves, socialize, and perfect dips and twirls away from the judgmental eyes of the family guinea pig.
The guides at Black Water, Blue Water Tours tailor their kayaking trips to the crew accompanying them. Wildlife tours, sunset tours, island-picnic tours, or even journeys under the full moon introduce kayakers to South Florida's Myakka River, mangrove tunnels, and canals laden with wildlife such as manatees. If visitors have specific sightseeing locales in mind, the guides can create an entirely new tour to fit their parameters.
Since 1955, Mote has been working to explore, understand and unlock the mysteries of the sea to ensure that ocean resources are available for generations to come. Mote Aquarium features touch pools, shark, dolphin, manatee and sea turtle exhibits and more than 100 other species of marine life.