Thanks to Hook'um Charters, the name "Hot Rod" has become synonymous with fishing. The 32-foot blackfin sportfish yacht floats the Sarasota Bay and the Gulf of Mexico in search of prize catches. Redfish, snook, snapper, and trout swim just beneath the surface of the area's Intracoastal Waterway, while even bigger prizes?including grouper, shark, sailfish, and giant bottles of tartar sauce?populate offshore waters. "Hot Rod," and more specifically its fishing guide Harry, float ready to catch them all. Harry has fished the area for nearly four decades, and he channels this experience during fishing trips. On these expeditions, he supplies anglers with all the necessary rods, lures, and know-how to reel in fish after fish.
In the evening, Hook'um Charters shifts focus to sightseeing. The setting sun casts a warm glow over Tampa Bay and its natural scenery, which serves as the backdrop for cruises. For a bit of dinner, captains can also ferry passengers to the area's many waterfront restaurants.
For almost 40 years, the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre has been pairing gastronomical gifts with lively productions of more than 300 plays and musicals, including five originals, one of which went all the way to Broadway. The 281-seat theater will soon host Avenue Q, the highly acclaimed, Tony Award-winning Broadway smash. Performed by a cross-species mix of puppets and humans, the musical follows Princeton, a well-meaning recent college grad who moves to New York City with Big Apple–sized dreams and gets a much-needed real-world education from his neighbors. The off-color, mature, and perversely funny production is warm, endearing, and more heart-rending than a sock puppet production of King Lear.
Some restaurant owners prefer to stay behind the scenes. Achille and Massimo Nigri are not those people. At Cafe Amici, each guest is greeted “like a long-lost friend,” according to one happy customer. The homey eatery not only makes diners feel welcome, but also sates appetites with authentic Italian eats such as homemade lasagna, gnocchi with crabmeat, and wild mushroom ravioli. One whole wall inside the sun-soaked dining room is covered with framed accolades from local media outlets and taste buds with the ability to type.
The forecast at Tsunami Sushi Bar & Grill never changes: there’s always a heavy chance of sushi. More than 30 sushi and sashimi creations take up a good chunk of the menu, with ingredients ranging from smoked salmon to spicy scallop. Diners can set aside their chopsticks and slice into hearty orders of filet mignon teriyaki or Gal Be—Korean barbecued short ribs served with steamed greens. Tsunami serves its artful plates in a dining room that This Week in Sarasota calls “dark, rich, and casually elegant,” making the restaurant an ideal spot for a romantic date or suit fitting.
The experienced instructors at Empire Ballroom Studio love to teach brand-new students. Driven by their passion for dance, they lead classes in a variety of dances—such as the waltz, tango, and swing—that can be learned in American and international styles. Students learn to dance with passion, romance, and artistry while increasing their physical fitness and expressing themselves through movement. The staff welcome both couples and single students, and they also offer lessons to prepare engaged couples for their wedding dance.