The Golf Garden of Destin fosters putt-putt delight and club-flailing fun in a family-friendly atmosphere replete with a nine-hole executive golf course, expansive driving range, and 18-hole miniature golf course. Golfers can groom their putting stroke with a round at the putting course, where slick, faux-grass surfaces and subtle slopes coalesce to create breaks more difficult to read than a kindergartener's dissertation. The outdoor driving range keeps metal clubs and dimpled orbs on a collision course well into the evening with over 30 hitting stalls outfitted with towering lights. Duffers looking for a more immersive golf challenge can take to the executive course, where seven par 3s beckon to players still seeking their first hole-in-one and two par 4s assure that drivers and 3-woods do not abscond in search of work at the nearest sword-forging convention.
Winner of Parents Connect's 2009 Parent's Pick award for best local art class, Abrakadoodle transforms any party or class into a chance to expand minds with artistic-minded games and lessons. A one-hour arty birthday party package includes an engaging teacher, an art lesson, supplies, and a canvas artwork gift created by the guests for the party host or party recipient (parties start at $175 for six children, $250 for a minimum of 12 children, $10 for each additional guest). Creative classes such as the All You Need Is Love! class ($20) gives students the chance to create art inspired and accompanied by the music of The Beatles, and the Mini Masters for Mommy and Me class ($80-$90) allow moms and children to wield a brush while finding inspiration from botanical gardens and famous museum collections. Check the schedule for a full list of class times, dates and locations.
The inaugural South Walton Beaches Wine & Food Festival brings together wine enthusiasts, foodies, entertainers, chefs, and vendors for four days of sampling and fun. Attendees engage with wine connoisseurs during four-hour Grand Tastings, where they can sample more than 800 wines from regions across the world while listening to catchy tunes from a cadre of Nashville songwriters. When their engines run low on food, revelers can refuel by snagging a bite to eat from the Culinary Village, and while there, catch cooking demonstrations by internationally-famed chefs, such as Norman Van Aken. Other festival activities include food, wine, and spirits tasting seminars.
Nimble sages with plenteous stockpiles of chi guide students of all skill levels down the path of mindfulness in classes that seek to promote inner health and self-actualization. The experienced clan of instructors combines forces to lead a schedule of calming, focused classes designed to accommodate all skill levels. Beginners can cut their tensile teeth in Chill classes that prop chakras up on sturdy tripods and review basic postures at an approachable pace. The Activate classes further develop strength and flexibility, while one- or two-hour Yoga Heat sessions spark a purgative inferno with athletic explorations of deep asanas and breathing techniques. A serene, communal studio space helps reduce the effects of stress and assists in cleansing the impurities garnered in spiritual mud-wrestling matches.
The bar’s trademark dueling pianos serve as the epicenter of these nightly celebrations; patrons submit their favorite songs on slips of paper for the pianists and backing musicians to recreate. If the website’s playlist is any indication, the bands can handle popular songs from all genres and eras, from Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Kanye West’s “All of the Lights.” The performances are spirited: colorful lights splash upon a stage where servers, guests, and chairs that have somehow developed mobility all dance along to the music. On Sunday nights at the Fort Walton Beach location, a comedy show cranks up the revelry at 9 p.m. after the dueling pianos stop for a rest.
Fueling the celebration is the bar’s indulgent selection of drinks. The menu includes military specials and revelers grab colorful straws to help drain 32-ounce booze buckets filled with fruit-flavored rum or other fruity libations. Honey-infused whiskey sweeten specialty cocktails, and local beers add depth to coolers stocked with Stella Artois and Dos Equis.
The recreational sailors at The Island Watersports maintain a fleet of sea-worthy vessels including safe, stable WindRider trimarans. During four-hour sailing stints, up to four people can pile onto the netted canopies and center cockpit to trade the buildings, highways, and Earth elementals of solid land for the freedom of the sea. One person chosen by the group to guide the craft receives a 15- to 20-minute lesson covering the basics of catching breezes for fuel and operating the foot-pedal steering controls. The tri-pronged craft supports up to 800 pounds, and the fully battened main sail on a rotating mast keeps the ship stable even during fish stampedes. MP3 players can belt out favorite songs when plugged into the boat's audio system, and guests are encouraged to bring along a small cooler filled with seaworthy beverages and snacks. Island Watersports' current sailing season will end in October but may go into November if weather permits and the boats don't get grounded for sneaking out to Make-Out Reef. The Island Watersports reopens for the next season on March 1.