Visitors to Florida EcoSafaris get a close look at the state's distinct flora and fauna during thrilling outdoor adventures. The Coach Safari whisks riders on a two-hour open-air jaunt through a 4,700-acre wildlife-conservation area rich with streams and forests. Naturalist guides delve into the natural history of the region's nine ecosystems, which house species including alligators, Florida panthers, and herds of roving photo opportunities. Visitors can also take in sweeping views of the nearby wetlands and their many residents, including countless kinds of birds and white-tailed deer. For equestrian adventurers, safaris on horseback take riders through scenic trails used by Native Americans in the 1500s.
Florida EcoSafaris' EcoPark adds to its Cypress Canopy Cycle adventure-which sends visitors rolling along steel cables in a suspended, pedal-powered cart that doubles as a spy machine for squirrels-with five new and recently renovated zipline adventures. Guests fly high through the air at 30 miles per hour with the Peregrine Plunge and Zipline Safari or leap off 55- or 68-feet platforms during controlled-free-fall adventures. No matter what activity guests participate in, Florida EcoSafaris donates a portion of all proceeds to the Allen Broussard Conservancy, an agency dedicated to the preservation of Florida's ecosystems and wildlife.
During a round of golf in this region, it’s not uncommon for players to see the occasional alligator sunning itself on the banks of a fairway pond. The same, however, cannot be said for miniature-golf courses, unless you’re playing at Congo River Golf, where the civilized sinking of putts coexists with the visceral carnage of live-alligator feedings. More than 25 alligators wait for patrons to feed them morsels of gator food in an exhibit beside the course. Though the course offers no chance for an encounter with the ancient, scaly species, it enchants players with waterfalls, safari-themed artifacts, and towering rock faces. In addition, Congo River Golf encompasses an indoor arcade and a gemstone-mining station, where guests dig through dirt for fossils, arrowheads, and Neanderthal’s kindergarten time capsules.
While most people’s biggest water-related fear might be sharks, Phil Pektas's was children. Not the kids themselves, of course, but the prospect of teaching them. This terror first surfaced when he was tapped to fill in for the Pre-K instructor at the swim school where he taught. Fortunately, he conquered that fear during the very first lesson and 20 years later is still introducing young people to the necessary skills for ensuring safe, aquatic fun. Pektas and his staff of American Red Cross–, CPR-, and First-Aid- certified instructors use activities, toys, and analogies to improve performance in the pool. With games such as Bird Catcher, kids will learn how to control their breathing and hunt for sub-aquatic fowl indigenous to chlorinated pools.
Meet Nannette. She's a former professional ballroom competitor with a slew of competition wins under her belt, but that's not as important as what she'll do for you. Alongside her staff of similarly talented dancers, Nannette cultivates a fun, inclusive, and laid back atmosphere while helping students perfect their ballroom footwork with classes in popular styles such as swing, waltz, tango, and cha-cha. Men, women, and even children learn how to twist and spin at all of Nannette's six locations, where guests can get exercise, relieve stress, and meet new dance-savvy people while having fun. The studio also offers private lessons in clients' homes or in their favorite supermarket aisles.
Golf Hall of Famer Gary Player and Karl Litten designed Kissimmee Oaks Golf Club's 18-hole, par 72 course, carving a 6,886-yard path through intersecting waterways and the century-old oak trees from which the club derives its name. Water hazards come into play on all but four holes, impeding golfers' passage while attracting wild turkey and thirsty golf carts. Golfers will need sound course management and accurate shotmaking to keep the ball in play on the sloping fairways and small greens that snake through the hazards. Before taking the course, players can warm up swings at a 20-stall driving range or at two separate greens for chipping and putting.
Course at Glance:
You don’t have to be a professional boxer to benefit from boxing training. In fact, many of the athletes who've trained at Gym Rat Boxing & Fitness have been your run-of-the-mill pro basketball players. Coach Todd’s dynamic, results-driven regimen helps people of all fitness levels—from all-stars to amateurs—attain a wide array of fitness goals without resorting to repetitive gym routines. Instructors use cardio-boosting calisthenics, footwork training, and shadowboxing techniques to help students lose weight and build muscle tone over time. Classes cover basic striking skills as students launch flurries of jabs and crosses at speed bags and heavy bags stuffed with the shirts of high-school bullies. Outside the ring, the gym offers personal-training sessions and intensive boot camps as well as access to the facility's free weights and cardio equipment.