Designed to incorporate the freshwater inlets of Lake Istokpoga, Spring Lake Golf Resort pairs a 45-hole golf complex with spacious, course-side villas. The resort’s two 18-hole courses stretch across a total of 13,234 yards of tropical terrain, comprising Panther Creek and its shorter, slightly easier counterpart, Cougar Trail. Water comes into play on nearly every hole on both courses, including Panther Creek’s signature sixth hole, an epic 800-yard, dogleg left that allows golfers six strokes to make par even if they are not a former president. Not to be upstaged by Panther Creek's grassy monolith, Cougar Trail’s ninth hole tests putting power with a colossal, 47,000-square-foot green that places it among the largest of its kind designed by humans. Bobcat Run is the relatively short younger brother, offering expedited par hunting in the form of a nine-hole, 2,561-yard layout.
Spring Lake's standard villas showcase the comforts of two bedrooms, two baths, and a fully equipped kitchen. After a day on the links, patrons can soak in tranquil views of the expansive course and its wildlife of grazing caddies from screened patios, flip through the channels on a TV equipped with cable, or chat softly over dinner and drinks at one of the resort’s two dining options. Outside the charming abodes, a pool offers respite from the Florida swelter, and a health club boasts a variety of exercise equipment.
One of the largest locally owned gourmet coffee and tea shops in the U.S., Barnie's offers more than 50 different gourmet coffees with 15 delectable flavors. Barnie's typically brews four different fresh coffees each day, and a ballroom of smoothies and lattes waltzes alongside mochas, espressos, and cappuccinos. Sit and sip a freshly brewed cup ($1.59+) or begin hoarding bags of pre-ground or whole-bean specialties such as Santa's White Christmas ($9.49/12 oz.)—a combination of Barnie's blended coffee with hints of coconut, sweet caramel, and vanilla guaranteed to keep you alert during the season when homes are most vulnerable to invasion by diabolically generous bearded elves. Recently unfrozen British cavemen can warm up with signature teas such as organic raspberry truffle and white-ginger peach, while all others can hose down tongue gardens with summer specials such as the Barnie Palmer ($2.29–$2.59), a blend of strawberry iced tea and mango lemonade.
Bringing powder power to seafood, steaks, and potatoes, Everglades Seasoning sprinkles unique blends of spices that dive beyond salt-and-pepper staples to flavor entrees and hairpieces alike. The original all-purpose seasoning mingles a natural papaya-fruit tenderizer with a host of flavors to gently lace steak, chicken, pork, and salads ($3 for 8 oz.). Moppin' BBQ Sauce holds a séance to learn the sweet and tangy truths held in the spicy spirits of vinegar and mustard ($3.72). Give unseasoned rookie cooks a hand with the Everglades gift shack, a bundle of spices and sauces to flame fish, sauté chickens, dust burgers, and increase buns’s attractiveness to potential partners ($18.95).
At Taste of Indian Sebring, chefs whip up a sprawling menu of classic Indian cuisine. As they prepare dishes such as tandoori shrimp and chicken vindaloo, they alter spice levels to customer requests of mild, medium, or hot. Their menu also includes vegetarian and vegan options such as vegetable masala or aloo gobhi.
Woody's Bar-B-Q smokes and grills the finest cuts of pork and beef before slathering proteins with tangy secret-recipe barbecue sauces. Fulfill contract clauses to consume fried cuisine by noshing appetizers such as the fried okra ($3.29) and sweet-potato fries (3.29). Woody's menu sates meat savants with a colossal offering of meats including ham chops ($9.49) and loaded mesquite-grilled chicken breasts ($8.99). The signature baby back ribs ($14.99 for full rack) come slow roasted in a secret marinade before being basted and grilled to seal in flavor and text revealing the marinade's ingredients.
Idyllic landscapes with verdant knolls and shimmering lakes surround Lake Wales, but Disney World, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico can all be reached by car in fewer than 90 minutes. There's also a wealth of local attractions, including 250 acres of public parks and museums. Designed by the Olmsted Brothers, Bok Tower Gardens is a world-renowned botanical preserve filled with vistas and tranquil flitting spots for humans, butterflies, and mothras alike. Even thrill-seekers can find pleasure just around the corner, as Chalet Suzanne is the taking-off and landing point for skydiving adventures, granting daredevils the chance to take in the scenic sweeps from high in the air.