Movies 8’s towering vertical sign flashes its red letters and pastel colors at passersby, enticing them to step inside and enjoy a night at the cinema. In the lobby, black-and-white checkered tiles, pink and orange walls, and neon signs hark back to the 1950s, when ladies often wore polka-dot dresses and gentlemen still slicked back their pompadours with crude motor oil. Before feasting their eyes on recently released blockbusters stretched across the silver screen, moviegoers line up at the snack counter, where an old-fashioned menu displays the theater’s bounty of popcorns, snacks, and drinks. Once movies let out, guests can test their button-mashing mettle in Movies 8’s arcade, which has its own separate nook.
The instructors at Tiger-Rock Martial Arts have set out to engineer the perfect martial-arts workout, and they think they?ve done it. The secret formula samples traditional ho-am taekwondo, hanmudo, and personal-safety techniques for a curriculum that emphasizes fitness and self-defense. Tiger-Rock's teachers are certified in CPR and first aid, and they work with everyone from young kids to adults.
After a flood devastated the area in 1994, Flint RiverQuarium was built to educate future generations about the geographic and ecologic conditions in the Flint River Basin. Families explore exhibits made to look like natural habitats, in which native creatures splash, swim, and make ill-advised deals with cunning sea witches to become human.
Size: seven permanent exhibits
Eye Catcher: The RiverQuarium Blue Hole Spring holds 175,000 gallons of water and stretches 22 feet deep. Inside, 120 species of fish, turtles, and alligators swim, from the enormous 8-foot-long Gulf sturgeon to adorable turtles such as the red-eared slider.
Permanent Mainstay: The Cypress Creek Aviary houses indigenous birds such as the great egret and little blue heron.
Don't Miss: The Hatchery, where fish are raised from egg to fingerling before being transferred to other exhibits
Hands-On Experiments: Get up close and personal with one of the Flint River Basin's denizens during animal encounters, regularly scheduled on the weekend.
Catch a Movie" The Imagination Theater shows short films centered on local species, such as fire ants and alligators.
Special Programs: On Discovery Days (the first and third Sunday of every month) the RiverQuarium comes to life with arts and crafts activities, story tellers, and live animal presentations.
Spotlight Theatres screens enrapture audiences with first-run movies. In each movie house, digital sounds and visual projections of fresh Hollywood films alight inner emotions of audiences resting in plush, high-backed stadium seats—each outfitted with a coin-operated mustache comb—or thrown directly into the action through 3-D technology. As eyes and ears relish motion-picture pursuits, soda, candy, and bounties of salty, crunchy popcorn emerge from the concession stand to occupy chatty mouths or catapult towards the screen to feed the hungry actors.
An endless amount of stories flicker across the screen at these cinemas, which offer stadium seating and digital sound. The theater plays films chosen from Hollywood’s newest releases, featuring stars just plucked from the vines where they grow in the California hills. Between whispered critiques of each preview, audience members can wash down fluffy kernels of popcorn with soda from the concession stand. The theater also opens its doors for birthday parties and large private screenings for up to 300 guests.
One of the oldest community theaters in the state, The Gainesville Community Playhouse has produced crowd-pleasing plays since 1927. In Horton Foote’s The Trip to Bountiful, elderly Carrie sets out to escape the clutches of her cowardly son and his bossy wife by returning to her childhood home. A dedicated cast and crew of local volunteers ably enact Carrie's search for her past. Patrons peep through the fourth wall in the 210-seat Vam York Theater, which boasts facilities to stage the most demanding musicals or Shakespearean space battles.