Sky Pirate Parasail's U.S. Coast Guard–licensed captains slip through John's Pass between Madeira Beach and Treasure Island while towing parasailers on a 1,200 foot tow rope, who glide under kaleidoscopic chutes tethered up to 500 feet in the air. After fastening their passengers, who range from school-aged kids to grandparents, into a secure harness, they fill the parachute's canopy with air and shuttle the skyward rider over the saltwater waves for an aerial jaunt. As the captain slackens the line and traces the coastline from offshore, the parasailer floats over the beach, the dolphins, and the gelatinous blob monster waving at sunbathers.
It’s not uncommon to stumble upon fake alligators as you make your way around a mini-golf course. But at Smugglers Cove's locations, live American alligators snap their jaws in exhibits nestled amid the miniature fairways. With an old-fashioned bamboo pole players can dangle a treat above 20–50 of the predatory alligators, which leap from the water to snatch their treat. Between feeding frenzies, games take place on Smugglers Cove’s 18-hole outdoor courses, where balls roll past rushing waterfalls, into caves, over mountainous terrain, and into a hole in a pirate ship.
With machines set up in rows to encourage competition, many ordinary gyms cater to men's bodies and psychology, right down to the urinals that were "accidentally" installed in the women's locker room. At Curves, you'll move around a circuit of hydraulic resistance machines that have been designed to work with women's bodies and promote weight loss, protect against osteoporosis, and deal with arthritis. An experienced trainer is always nearby to help manage your machine maneuvering and your muscle making. Instead of fiddling with weight stacks and losing your momentum, the hydraulic machines use your body weight and fitness level to create resistance that matches your abilities, decreasing the risk of soreness or injury. Because traditional lift-and-lower motions create bulky muscles, each machine uses push-and-pull motions to create toned, lean muscles perfect for crushing a grapefruit without looking like you can.
Winner of two gold metals and five silver medals at the Indy International Wine Competition, the Florida Winery prepares its Vino Florida wine on-location and often infuses it with tropical fruits, including raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, and melons. Vino Florida's blends and traditional wines are sure to please both vino novices and difficult-to-impress wine connoisseurs alike. A bottle of the Vino Florida ORWI, a species of flavorful fermented Florida orange juice, arrives stuffed with enough fruit to stave off scurvy in malnourished sailors' monkeys ($14.99). Free wine tastings are offered at The Florida Winery store, so you can meet the winemakers and hone in a bottle that best complements your taste buds. The shop also concocts ice cream made from its own wine and stocks a diverse supply of gourmet foods sourced from the Sunshine State, including coconut candies, spices, salsas, and more.
It turns out baby alligators are pretty cute when there's no chance they're going to bite you. That's what people learn when they visit the Alligator Attraction, where they feed the seven-inch creatures from a safe distance by dangling fishing poles off an overhead bridge. Visitors can also come in for a closer interaction by handling the gators, cradling them in their arms and smooching their snouts. These animals are much larger—the center's 50 gators grow as large as seven feet long—but the interaction is still safe because the gators' jaws are securely taped shut.
There are other animals to behold and interact with, too. Visitors feed koi fish from baby bottles, and they line up to greet rescue animals such as Becca the Australian blue-tongued skink and Rudolph the 95-pound African spur thigh tortoise. Outside of the small zoo, personnel bring The Alligator Attraction's titular reptiles to pool parties to swim around with guests and gossip about the neighbors as much as they can with their mouths bound.
In 1848, a great hurricane washed over Florida, blasting a passage through the sand of Madeira Beach. It would be first traveled by the pirate John Levique, whose legend would lend the inlet its name, Johns Pass. But Levique was not the only individual to make use of the pass. In what is now Boca Ciega Bay, travelers can make out the cresting fins of bottlenose dolphins and the slick backs of manatees. The sailors of Dolphin Quest strive to give their passengers up-close experiences with these creatures, embarking on 90-minute tours to seek out the elusive pods. The calm waters make for a pleasant ride as the Coast Guard-licensed captain and crew narrate, largely by way of free-verse shanty. On their journeys, passengers may also see frigate birds, osprey, and pelicans craning their necks from the mangroves.
A comprehensive guide to attractions and things to do.