At the helm of Mangrove Masters is Florida native and USCG-certified Captain Jack Boutchyard, who loves to introduce visitors to the waters he calls home—specifically those surrounding Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Captain Jack brings along all gear, including fishing licenses, rods, and bait for flats fishing charters that chase trout near the grass flats and redfish when the tide goes out. For a hands-off outing, the sunset cruise charts course toward a horizon bathed in soft pinks and purples, presenting a colorful backdrop for dolphins and manatees at play. Treasure hunters can also opt to meet Captain Jack on the dock for a short jaunt to the white, sandy shores of North Captiva Island, which is only accessible by boat and teems with riches such as conch shells, sand dollars, and buried chests filled with pirate baseball-card collections.
Situated in the center of a cluster of lakes, Chain of Lakes Kayak Rentals grants adventurers quick access to scenic nautical exploration. Half- and full-day tours expose visitors to local sights and waterways, giving them ample time to admire the lake’s verdant shores. Alternatively, hourly rentals of single and tandem kayaks let guests venture out at their own pace, paddling to the tune of their own drum or the drum their partner is beating instead of helping with the paddling.
Cardboard cutouts clad with cartoon superheroes and banners featuring beloved Hollywood starlets bedeck the walls of the Movies at Wellington lobby, reminding patrons why film viewing has become such a time-tested American pastime. Buttered popcorn kernels glint through front counters like diamonds in a jewelry-store case, luring those who want a snack while watching the newest releases in digital projection or innovative RealD 3D display. Guests can also question ticket takers about birthday-party packages for 25 guests, which offer unlimited popcorn, soda refills, and a tour of the attic, in which the projectionist stores his hand puppets.
With a stable of two schooners, Appledore IV and Appledore V, which split their time between Fort Myers, Florida, and Bay City and Mackinaw City, Michigan, BaySail's captains ferry passengers about the Great Lakes and the Gulf of Mexico during leisurely and educational tours. The sea vessels depart from Bay City to wind along the Saginaw River and into open water, letting passengers soak up summer sun or, in the autumn, traveling upriver for spectacular views of changing leaves and scarecrows playing hooky on the riverbanks. Come winter, the Appledore V makes its way to Florida, where it seeks out the dolphin populations of San Carlos Bay. All of BaySail's excursions are interactive seafaring affairs in which passengers are encouraged to help to crew the watercraft, learn about fish brought into onboard tanks, and force seagulls to walk the plank.
The Silver Spurs Rodeo story began in 1941, when pioneering ranchers gathered in Tallahassee to ride in a parade honoring Florida's newly elected governor and received statewide attention for their impressive and entertaining riding skills. Now the largest rodeo east of the Mississippi, the Silver Spurs Rodeo is annually ranked as one of the top-50 events sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Ticket holders can check out eight different riding and roping events, all of which test a cowperson's strength, character, and readiness to be bested by an overly emotional beast and a dust-covered clown. In the dangerous and exciting bull-riding event, riders attempt to ride a bucking bull for eight seconds, and tough and talented cowgirls participate in barrel-racing competitions, in which each contestant rides at full speed around large barrels, making sure to hit the electronic clock upon entering and exiting. Eyes can also feast on quadrille performances, which can best be described as square dancing on horseback. Watch couples dressed in fanciful costumes seated atop prancing horses that weave in and out of different formations to create eye-pleasing patterns while kicking up dust piles that resemble John Wayne.
The Punta Gorda Club unleashes muscular potential with an on-site nutritionist, a well-equipped gym, six clay tennis courts, and more than 80 group fitness classes each week. During a one-on-one nutrition consultation and dietary analysis (a $99 value), the club's food guru will discuss each client's eating habits, then draft a written meal plan that outlines what flavors of Twinkies they're allowed to eat. Additionally, an unlimited one-month membership (a $90 value, including enrollment fee) lets patrons loose to toughen tendons on the gym's playground of cardio machines, free weights, and step-aerobics teeter-totters. Members can also choose from more than 11 types of group fitness classes such as yoga, spinning, and Pilates, to tone their tummies in tandem or swat serves on six clay tennis courts.