Visitors to Florida EcoSafaris at Forever Florida 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.
Brooke Pottery features fine ceramic crafts and a host of handmade doodads from more than 400 American artists. A glazed, tri-colored McQueeny Belt Bowl ($48) offers a fetching soup-holding alternative to cupped palms, while the Heart Coaster Set ($40) lovingly shields countertops from clammy cocktails and over-fizzed sodas. Decorate feng shui–deficient gardens with ash-wood Chi Energy Amber wind chimes ($35), or embellish tree limbs with colorful Aloha Chimes ($42). For kids, the Blues Band Harmonica ($7) provides hours of fun in the key of harmonica.
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.
Nestled on the shores of the eponymous southern Florida lake, Lake Okeechobee Resort is an ideal base camp for outdoor recreation. Popular pursuits here include bass fishing, boating, and hiking or bicycling along a segment of the 1,400-mile Florida Trail that wends around the lake’s perimeter. You can set off into the lake from the resort’s 100-slip marina. From its location on the southeastern side of the lake, the resort has a spot to watch sunsets over the water.
For those camping, Lake Okeechobee Resort has especially long lots for oversized RVs or sleeping bags designed for giraffes. An onsite restaurant, public bathrooms, and pool take the edge off of roughing it while staying at the campground or in the cabins.
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.