With more than half a century of history behind its name, Sarasota Lanes has seen generations of locals bowl its alleys, with progeny making sly, crouching approaches to the same lanes their parents did years ago. The tradition continues at the alley’s 36 lanes with automatic scoring, far superior to counting on the fingers and toes of fellow players. The alley's snack bar refuels bowlers with succulent chicken wings, burgers, pizzas, and drinks. At the pro shop, bowlers can gear up for future lane domination with balls, bags, and accessories.
At Crowley Museum and Nature Center, a pioneer museum set up like a general store, historic structures, and a sugar-cane mill depict a Florida homestead as it would have existed between 1850 and 1920. At the heart of the homestead is the Tatum-Rawls House, which was built as a single-story house between 1888 and 1892, and is the oldest example of rural architecture in Florida. Over time, it was expanded to accommodate the Tatum clan, by the addition of a second floor, consisting of William Tatum and his wife and eight children, and was recently restored to its original glory with a wide front porch. Elsewhere on the 185-acre expanse, the Crowley Farm continues to pluck away at the land with pigs, cows, and a horse named Sugar who pulls the cane press to make the juice that is later boiled to syrup crystals. Boardwalks and nature trails traverse the delicate swamp, flat woods, and Tatum Sawgrass marsh that contain a variety of wildlife species including white pelicans, swallowtail kites, and eagles.
The instructors at True Blue Horse Farm instill the subtleties of horsemanship in students of all ages and abilities. Prior to each private lesson, students spend 30 minutes preparing for their time atop one of the many resident horses. They then review proper safety and grooming techniques before saddling the animal and memorize its life story to prevent awkward lapses in conversation.
Once settled, both the instructor and pupil lead hoofed vehicles out onto the farm's 2-acre grass ring, complete with a full jumping course. Students may choose to receive their instruction in the riding styles of hunting and jumping, which recall classic English foxhunting, or dressage, which involves commanding the horse to perform nimble maneuvers without having to yell at it or install a steering wheel.
Florida's Gulf Coast is one of the last places one expects to see an igloo. Nevertheless, drivers on I-75 will spot a dome worthy of the Arctic rising as they approach Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, a 115,000-square-foot facility that houses two NHL-size ice rinks. Visitors coast across the well-maintained surface during public-skating hours, while classes in figure skating and hockey skating teach ice-slicing fundamentals to students unaccustomed to getting out of their dogsled and moving on their own. In addition to ice rinks, the sprawling space contains a 13,500-square-foot indoor soccer-and-football field, a fitness center, a video game room, and space for birthday parties.:m]]